Welcome to a world where being a chaebol daughter isn’t all it’s cut out to be, where being happy comes from being rich, where two people of differing classes fall in love….. Welcome to High Society. So I know that I’m a bit behind on actually posting recaps for this drama, and I’m not sure if I’ll catch up, but I do hope that you’ll stick with me because I plan on sticking with this drama.
We start the drama off with an introduction to our heroine Jung Yoon Ha (UEE) at her part time job, she’s currently dealing with a difficult ahjumma customer who wants to try out the more pricey fruits the store has to offer. Yoon Ha politely tells her that she can’t cut the fruit up for her to taste but she vouches for the high quality because she has some at home, ahjumma scoffs at her and asks how a part timer like herself can afford something that pricey and concludes that she must have stolen it.
In actual fact Yoon Ha comes from a much wealthier background and we find out that she is the youngest daughter of Taejin Pacific Group, being a chaebol daughter doesn’t mean that everything is all sunshine and rainbows though as we witness Yoon Ha being stepped on by one of her sisters for wearing the same colour as her. Back at home we see her having to defend herself for causing a ruckus at the event they were previously at and asks her mother to scold her sister as well since it wasn’t all her fault. Her mother just brushes her off and tells her that she’s the problem in their household and we hear her say to herself “that’s right. I’m the problematic one who’s trying to find happiness”. She continues on her narration by saying that “They say 90 percent of life’s problems can be solved with money. I carry with me the other 10 percent of those problems. Statistically speaking, one could be nine times happier than those who solve 90 percent with money. But numbers aren’t money, and when applied to people, the numbers always lie.”
The next day she gets berated by her superior who tells her to apologise to the customer, he says that they’re going through a hard time at the moment as their profits keep dropping, the execs are also meeting about this exact same thing as Choi Joon Ki (Sung Joon) states to the board that profits for Food Market have dropped by 15%. The news stresses out Yoo Chang Soo (Park Hyungshik) who’s in charge of the sector, his hyung tells him that if he can’t bring the profits up within 3 months then he’ll take over. Joon Ki tells us as he looks at Chang Soo that, “The road to becoming rich is to be born rich. If you do your best, good things will happen to you. As long as you have love, you’ll be happy doing anything. Those are the words my parents told me, but I won’t be deceived”. Joon Ki comes from a modest and loving family and we witness as his wheelchair bound father tries to help his wife with some chores before she comes home, but she comes home early and ruins his surprise of dinner (gah they’re cute, I like them). Joon Ki continues his narration, “The reason why poor people are still poor is because rather than wanting to escape their poverty, they found happiness in being poor. You can never be happy when you’re poor”.
Chang Soo goes up to the roof to vent about his hyung with Joon Ki, and then puts him in charge of the Food Market project stating that they’re in the same boat and if he (Chang Soo) has to do the project than Joon Ki does as well. Chang Soo puts a hand on Joon Ki’s shoulder and tells him, “You are my only family member, hyung and I are just business partners” he then tells Joon Ki that hyung thinks he’s going to inherit the company but Chang Soo’s not out of the running yet, he’s got a plan and it involves marrying Taejin Group’s daughter in fact he’s about to go on a blind date with her later on. Speaking of Taejin Group’s daughter she’s leaving work early “reasons” and her friend Lee Ji Yi (Im Ji Yeon) pouts that Yoon Ha never tells her anything about her life so it makes her feel left out. Ji Yi breaks out in to song about her name (hehe it’s a palindrome, because Lee can also be spelled as Yi, that’s cute) which gets Yoon Ha smiling and Ji Yi tells her that she’s proud of Yoon Ha for staying strong even though she must have wanted to quit today, Yoon Ha thinks to herself that on days such as this one she’s relieved that she’s the daughter of a chaebol.
Yoon Ha texts Chang Soo to change locations of their meeting place because she doesn’t like “crowded places”, suspicious Chang Soo calls Joon Ki and gets him to dig up a photo of her for him. Shortly after he gets a text with a photo of Yoon Ha…..as a little girl, Chang Soo blinks at it a few times and gets a new message from Joon Ki as a “bonus” this time a family photo, which isn’t all that helpful considering there are three girls.
We finally meet Yoon Ha’s eldest unni Jang Ye Won (Yoon Ji Hye) who’s currently the CEO of Taejin Pharmaceuticals and oppa Jang Kyung Joon (Lee Sang Woo) the Vice President of Taejin Group, the two exchange forced pleasantries where Ye Won remarks that some people are born with gold and able to do whatever they want and no one cares when they mess up, and there are others who run around doing everything but get told to be happy with what the have (ahh chaebol family dynamics the son is always the golden boy). Kyung Joon tells Ye Won to deal with the lawsuits and protestors the company is getting because it makes the parent company look bad and he’s not above cutting off his siblings because that’s just what dad did. Ye Won tells him not to get too cocky and challenge dad’s authority because it is still their fathers era. Yoon Ha’s mother, Lady Min (Go Doo Shim) and other sister Jang So Hyun (Yoo Soo Young) are out getting facials where they run in to Chairman Jang’s mistress who tells Lady Min that she’s had to fend off three different women for her in the past month.
Back at home Lady Kim sits down for lunch with her husband Chairman Jang (Yoon Joo Sang) whom asks her why she’s talking so much when she remarks about the dishes, Chairman Jang tells her that she should have checked the dishes ahead of time if she knew he was coming home. The two get in to an argument (idk if you can really call it that but anyways) when Lady Kim tells him that she does have a limit to her patience, she remarks that he’s free to do whatever he pleases. He reminds her that he’s the one who’s providing her all this wealthy lifestyle she leads, but if she’s not happy then she can just leave, she asks him point blank if he really thinks that she’s living with him because she wants to. That gets him even more worked up as he yells at her that he’s the king around here and no one is higher than him in the household, she retorts that if he’s the king then that means she’s the queen.
Chang Soo gets dropped off at his blind date by Joon Ki who’s also on his way to see his lady friend at the same place, on his way up Joon Ki runs in to Yoon Ha, who’s now in ripped jeans and a tank, the two end up on the same elevator as each other and Joon Ki takes in her attire. The blind date between Chang Soo and Yoon Ha goes as well as expected with the two switching between jondaenmal (formal speech) and banmal (informal speech), Yoon Ha wants Chang Soo to tell his mother that he doesn’t want to marry her, he tells her that if she’d just come right out and said that to him without going through this whole “transformation” he would have helped her out, but now he’s in not mood to, and he’s going to tell his mother that he likes Yoon Ha soooooooo much and wants to marry her, cause the thing he hates most is becoming a fool. She follows suit once he gets up and ends up getting a glass of water dumped on her, he tells her that what he said before was just a scare tactic and that nothing in life comes free.
Joon Ki meanwhile heads up to a hotel room where he’s greeted by his lady friend, however he shrugs off her hug and as she whines about how she doesn’t want to be ordered around by his parents when they get married because his parents are a nuisance. Hearing this, he coldly tells her that her fathers furniture company doesn’t have a bright future and she has no charm at all, she’s not worth him investing his time and heart into. As he leaves the room she yells after him that he won’t be able to find another woman like her again who’s willing to take him and his status. He ends up getting in to the elevator with a less edgy and more demure looking Yoon Ha, she accidentally bumps in to a passerby and spills the contents of her bag, in her haste to get away she leaves her hairclip behind, which Joon Ki picks up.
Back in the car Chang Soo picks up a call from Joon Ki’s mum who’s calling to check up on her son whom she hasn’t seen in two months, after hanging up Chang Soo tells Joon Ki he wants to go and ride their bikes. We make a quick stop off at the bazaar preparations where the chaebol wives play a game of two face before returning to the two guys racing each other on their bikes. Chang Soo ends up ultimately winning, he tells Joon Ki about Yoon Ha’s plan to use him and Joon Ki tells him that he broke up with his lady friend, Chang Soo echoes what she yelled after Joon Ki earlier, that it’ll be hard for him to find another girl at that level.
Lady Min finds out that her husband has restricted all of her monetary access and access to the private plane so she can’t fly out and see her granddaughter she gets back home and ends up taking out her frustrations on Yoon Ha. Lady Min asks her if she knows why she scares her, it’s because she doesn’t cry when she gets hit, Yoon Ha replies back “You may not remember, but I cried the first time I got hit, I shriveled up the second time, I became sad the fifth time and became obedient the tenth time you hit me. But while I was changing, you remained the same”. Her words don’t really affect Lady Min who just tells Yoon Ha that nothing ever works out for her because of Yoon Ha (wait wtf, are you going to start blaming your daughter if a bad storm happens to come your way then?).
Joon Ki gets back to work to find Ji Yi cleaning his desk for him, she asks him what he’s doing there so late and he tells her that he wanted to get some work done. The two end up walking out with each other and she continues to follow him despite his nudges for her to leave, he eventually offers her a ride home much to her delight (gah her crush is so cute). Yoon Ha sees the two as they’re walking out of the building and gets a mischievous smile on her face, she sneaks up behind Ji Yi and totally ruins the dream moment Ji Yi seemed to be having with Joon Ki (she does look at Joon Ki with an impressed expression though). Joon Ki realises that Yoon Ha is the same girl that he saw that afternoon and leaves the pair without exchanging any formalities. Offended by his dismissal of her Yoon Ha follows him and asks him if he knows her, we end the episode with Joon Ki’s narration, “They say it’s fate if you coincidentally meet three times. I don’t believe in fate. I only make choices”.
As far as first episodes go this one is pretty much the standard, a basic introduction to the main cast and their problems with bits of their personality sprinkled in. I really liked Ji Yi right off the bat because she’s so adorable and I’m glad that Yoon Ha has a friend like her to turn to when her family life gets bad, I do wonder though how Ji Yi will react when she finds out who Yoon Ha really is.
Whilst I didn’t enjoy the exposure to Yoon Ha’s family life, it did interest me, all the little conflicts between each family member. Ye Won and Kyung Joon’s battle to be successor, Lady Min and Chairman Jung’s obviously strained relationship that doesn’t appear to have ever seen happiness, Kyung Joon’s relationship with their mother versus the relationship the other girls have with her. Lady Min’s treatment of Yoon Ha did pique my interest because she appears to be the victim each time Lady Min is frustrated, and whilst her treatment of her other two daughters is also cold, neither of them appear to receive the same treatment as Yoon Ha.
Both of our leads keep themselves partly distanced from their friends, her to hide her family background and him to draw a line between friend and superior, so it’ll be interesting when they can finally close that distance (although I think that is still a while away). Yoon Ha’s character is an interesting one because she takes the part time job to get away from her family and yet she can’t yet bring herself to fully leave it behind and in a way holds on to it as a security blanket. The two leads couldn’t be more different as well because whilst she wants to get married to someone who can see beyond her social status and find true happiness, that isn’t something that Joon Ki believes in, and from the way that he broke up with his lady friend he makes dating seem more like a business arrangement to me for some reason.
So will Joon Ki pretend that this is the first time that he’s seen Yoon Ha or will he reveal that he saw her at the hotel?