“The Penthouse: War in Life”: The Stunning K-Drama from 2020/21 Worth Watching

The Penthouse: War in Life

2020 was a year of immense growth for Korean dramas. There were plenty of memorable k-dramas throughout the year—including Itaewon Class and Psycho, But It’s Okay (and plenty of others; honestly, the list would be far too long if I listed them all). So, the overall bar for what makes a great k-drama was raised insanely high. But if there’s one thing k-dramas are good for, it’s for exceeding the already high expectations. One of the most watched dramas at the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 is The Penthouse: War in Life.

The Penthouse: War in Life – A Brief Description

This thrilling drama follows the life of multiple families who all live in the Hera Palace—which is a luxurious penthouse apartment building in Seoul. The families in this penthouse all fight for power, wealth, and prestige throughout the entire drama. There are multiple different storylines that follow the main plot—ones between the parents and ones between the children.

the penthouse drama poster

Shim Su-ryeon (actress Lee Ji-ah) is the queen of the Hera Palace. As a character, she holds many scars from her past that impact her actions. She is elegance and grace, but she’s also not one to let others walk over her. Oh Yoon-hee (actress Eugene) is a girl who comes from a poor family, but is someone trying to gain access to the high society and possibly become the queen in the Hera Palace.

Take a look at the trailer for season one here:


The Penthouse is filled with plot twists and drama that you won’t expect, but will love anyways. Truly, this drama is what is known as a “makjang.” A makjang series is one that involves a lot of unrealistic, terrifically horrible situations that go from bad to worse. Of course, in the best way possible. They involve murders, secrets, revenge, and even more. These series are so filled to the brim with drama that you can’t help but keep watching just to see how it ends. The Penthouse is no different.

General Info about The Penthouse: War in Life

Season one is a total of twenty-one episodes, at just over an hour per episode. It was directed by Joo Dong-min. The episodes were released twice a week, starting in October of 2020 until January of 2021.

The second season is a total of thirteen episodes. Again, two episodes were released in a week, starting from February until the end of March 2021.

You can watch the trailer for season two here:


The third, and most recent, season has fourteen total episodes and was released soon after the second season. The episodes aired form the beginning of June until mid-September 2021. Like the first two seasons, Penthouse 3 was a major hit with fans.

You can watch the trailer for season three here:


Further, you can find this series on Viki with a VikiPass Plus—which is only $10 per month or $100 per year.

Actors/Actresses in The Penthouse: War in Life

Main Cast

Lee Ji-ah (playing Shim Su-ryeon)

Actress Lee Ji-ah began her career in 2007 with her breakout role in The Legend. This role brought her to fame rather quickly and she won the year-end Best New Actress award at the MBC Drama Awards. She also won the Popularity Award and the Best Couple Award with the other main actor in The Legend.

In The Penthouse drama, she plays Shim Su-ryeon, the lead female role who’s known as the queen of the Hera Palace.

Kim So-yeon (playing Cheon Seo-jin)

Kim So-yeon’s career began in 1994, when she was 14 years old. Her acting debut was with the show Dinosaur Teacher. Unfortunately, because of the roles she had, her career went downhill for a bit. A few of her most popular dramas include All About Eve (2000), Iris (2009), and many others. Before The Penthouse, Kim acted in Mother of Mind (2019).

In The Penthouse drama, she plays Cheon Seo-jin, a female lead that is known as the prima donna of the Hera Palace. As the prima donna, she does everything she can to give her daughter everything she wants.

Eugene (playing Oh Yoon-hee)

Kim Yoo-jin, known as Eugene professionally, is an actress and a singer. She made her singer debut in 1997 in the girl group S.E.S. After the disbandment of S.E.S. in 2002, Eugene started working towards her acting career and her solo career. She released two albums in her solo career and has starred in many various films and tv shows. Her acting debut was in 2002 with the show Loving You.

In The Penthouse, she plays Oh Yoon-hee, the last female lead who is one of the few characters not born into the wealth of the Hera Palace. As a mother, Yoon-hee works hard to climb the power dynamics of the Hera Palace so that her daughter can achieve her own dreams.

Supporting Cast

Uhm Ki-joon (playing Joo Dan-tae)

Uhm Ki-Joon plays Joo Dan-tae, Shim Su-ryeon’s husband and a successful money maker.

Shin Eun-kyung (playing Kang Ma-ri)

Shin Eun-kyung plays Kang Ma-ri, a woman who has recently come into wealth. Throughout the show, she leads a double life.

Bong Tae-gyu (playing Lee Kyu-jin)

Bong Tae-gyu plays Lee Kyu-jin, the son in a wealthy family of judges and lawyers. He is also a lawyer himself.

Others to Mention Briefly from the List on Viki:

Yoon Jong-hoon as Ha Yoon-cheol.

Park Eun-seok as Gu Ho-dong.

Lee Chul-min as Yoon Tae-joo.

Yoon Joo-hee as Go Sang-ah.

The Penthouse: War in Life Filming Location

One of the most notable features of this drama is the extravagant apartments. Many have wondered where these luxurious apartments even are. Sure, the drama says it’s based in Seoul… but where?

Good news, if you want to pay a visit to the hotel from The Penthouse: War in Life drama, you can! Or, well, you will be able to in the near future. The luxurious apartments shown in the drama (beginning in episode 10) are filmed in the Fairmont Ambassador Seoul Hotel. This hotel is the newest luxury hotel from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

the penthouse war in life scenery shot

While the hotel itself isn’t open to the public quite yet, you can definitely see sneak peaks of the rooms throughout the drama. The easiest way to tell which filming location is this hotel, you can just take a look where Logan Lee, one of the key characters, lives. His home is one of the rooms from the hotel.

The Reaction to The Penthouse: War in Life

This drama has become one of the highest viewed dramas at the tail-end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. By the end of the season, it had roughly 5.3 million views. During the first season’s airing, the show had the number-one spot for highest viewed on air.

If that doesn’t prove how positive the reaction to this drama is, then just take a look at the reviews. People haven’t stopped talking about this drama since it first came out. There’s tons of reviews on the internet—in various formats—and it doesn’t seem to be slowing any time soon.

Did you enjoy The Penthouse: War in Life drama?

After three impactful and widely spread season of The Penthouse drama it might be hard finding another drama that can be that good for that long. But there’s been a few that have come out recently that might be worth your time. Feel free to look through our Drama Category. We have tons of posts about various dramas that can fill your time. There’s even a few specific posts about k-dramas released in 2021 or coming out in 2022.

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