Dramacist: Miranieva Buen
Hit series Penthouse 3: War in Life ends with a bang with a 19.1% viewership rating, according to Nielsen Korea. Despite the high viewership, it did not escape criticism due to the scenes and themes surrounding the mysterious, vengeful, and certified thriller.
Park Eun Seok, who plays Logan Lee, also played the character’s twin brother Alex Lee. Alex had dreadlocks, tattoos and spoke in a manner that showed African-American stereotyping. Despite the initial criticism, Alex still appeared in the late parts of the series and earned more ire due to cultural appropriation.
Another scene that caused backlash was Joo Dan Tae, played by Um Ki Joon, who plants bombs on his creation, Hera Palace. In the scene where the news reports the incident, they did not use CGI, opting for real incidents. Instead of a 100-story luxury apartment falling into pieces, they showed the actual news footage of the devastation of a building collapse in Gwangju. The building in Gwangju was being demolished when it hit a city bus that took nine lives and left eight injured.
To add insult to the injury, the production team also used the news footage of Pohang residents in shelters after they survived a 5.4 magnitude earthquake back in November 2017, presenting them as evacuees. That earthquake injured less than a hundred people, and viewers found this unnecessary and triggering for survivors and their families.
There’s also the theme of suicide where Shim Suryeon, played by Lee Ji-Ah, opts to fall to her death to frame Kim So-Yeon, who plays Cheon Seojin, to punish her for all of her crimes. Seojin also ends her life through overdose.
Despite all this, there’s no doubt that the makjang series will be missed by many.