I Live in Cheongdam-dong is a sitcom that airs Monday to Friday on jTBC. Thirty episodes have been aired so far. I haven’t been watching the show regularly but the few episodes that I’ve watched haven’t failed to make me laugh. I might just have to watch the whole series because it’s funny and homey. The sitcom surrounds an ordinary Korean family that has moved into Cheongdam, a ritzy neighborhood in Seoul’s Kangnam district, to maintain a manga reading room on behalf of a friend (I’m not 100% sure on this though). Of course, this family is not a typical Kangnam family that can afford to enjoy a posh lifestyle. This gap is the source of many comedic moments.
In the thirtieth episode (captured below), I found Ji-eun’s story most funny. Ji-eun is the daughter who works as a restaurant manager and often helps out at the manga room. At the start of the episode, we see Ji-eun working at the store desk and four customers who are busy reading, slurping ramen, or dozing off. Then, one of the customers’ phone starts ringing. It looks like the guy wasn’t supposed to be chilling in the manga store. He starts lying to whoever’s on the other end of the line. Right at the moment he says, “I’m in the office working,” the sounds of slurping, laughing and snoring halt, as if to help simulate a quiet office environment. The sounds return right when the guy hangs up his phone. Ji-eun is impressed by their customers’ feat and wonders if it’s their common life circumstances that enable those unacquainted people to stick for each other. But she actually thinks they’re pathetic.
Later, against her wish, Ji-eun and Sang-yeop go to the manga reading room at Sang-yeop’s urging. Ji-eun has been hiding that her family maintains the manga reading room from Sang-yeop, a born-and-raised Cheongdam guy to whom Ji-eun is attracted. She doesn’t want Sang-yeop to know that the shabby store isn’t even hers and that she is not affluent like the real Cheongdam peeps. Therefore, Ji-eun pretends to be a customer. Her uncles at the desk and the customers are initially puzzled by Ji-eun’s strange behavior but figure out what she’s up to soon enough and play along.
The series of tasks that customers spontaneously takes up in order to help Ji-eun is just hilarious. When one of the customers is about to leave the store and walks up to pay and calls on Ji-eun, another customer volunteers himself to the cash register. When Sang-yeop wonders where the sports section is, a different customer gets up to guide him to the right place. Then, when Sang-yeop tries to order ramen, and yet another customer gets up to cook, saying that cooking is his responsibility. When a mail carrier drops in to deliver a package for Hye-ja (Ji-eun’s mother), a student customer gets up saying that his name is Hye-ja. Hye-ja for a boy’s name haha.
While the story is somewhat dispiriting for many of us and for Ji-eun who is forced to realize that she is not much different from her customers, how it is told is just brilliant. Those customers are awesome customers that every business owner would appreciate.