‘Queenmaker’ Episodes 1 & 2: Recap & Ending, Explained: Will Hwang Do-Hee Go Against Young-Sim? 

Kim Hee-Ae is back with an expensive wardrobe and a powerful performance on Netflix’s “Queenmaker.” For the most part, her character is rather meek compared to the one in “The World Of The Married,” but we’re only two episodes in, so much more is yet to happen. Alongside her, we have Moon So-Ri, Seo Yi-Sook, Yoon Ji-Hye, Kim Sae-Byuk, and Ryu Soo-Young in pivotal roles. We wouldn’t go so far as to call “Queenmaker” a “Makjang” drama just yet, but we can wait a little bit to confirm this. The K-drama takes time to set its pace and might get a bit slow in places. Let’s find out if there’s a payoff.


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In ‘Queenmaker’ Episodes 1 & 2?

The first two episodes of “Queenmaker” are setting Hwang Do-Hee up to find her place against the massive Eunsung group (yes, we too thought about Samsung immediately). Hwang Do-Hee is like a loyal dog that cleans up all the dirt in the family of this massive conglomerate that has essentially monopolized the Korean market. The matriarch of the family made Hwang Do-Hee the manager of their strategic planning team after seeing her being selfless in her career very early on, showing her desperation to be someone important to her.


The Big Scandal And Hwang Do-Hee’s Efficiency

“Queenmaker” Episode 1 begins with a huge scandal about the Eunsung group. The younger daughter Eun Chae-Ryong is caught being abusive to her employees. The scandal has taken over the whole city. But Hwang Do-Hee is relentlessly working to make this go away. She is able to cover up by using Chae-Ryong’s luxury clothing products trend instead and it becomes the hot topic of discussion on the internet. Later, when the prosecutors call her in for questioning and Chae-Ryong is waiting, Do-Hee makes the team take pictures of her pumping milk for her baby in order to share with the news outlets of Seoul. She is so meticulous that she even gives them the exact headlines to use. We understand that this is the norm every time the Eunsung group is in trouble, and not everyone appreciates Do-Hee’s ruthless ways. At the same time, the labor group has been protesting against the Eunsung group for having laid off many women. To help them, a lawyer named Oh Kyung-Sook is protesting at the rooftop of one of Eunsung’s supermarkets.

In front of the press, Chae-Ryong bows her head in an apologetic manner. Before she heads out, a journalist asks Chae-Ryong how she can be working when she has Intermittent Explosive Disorder (leave it to K-dramas to teach you something new every day). Before Chae-Ryong can release her exasperation on the said journalist, a man throws an egg at her, and Do-Hee and the team are quick to take her in. Do-Hee’s plan of action works, and all of the products worn by Chae-Ryong are quickly sold out, making the Eunsung group’s products popular. Oh Kyung-Sook’s right-hand man hands Do-Hee Chae-Ryong’s shoe, which fell off during the whole mess with the press in front of the prosecutor’s office. He hands Do-Hee a letter that she needs to give to the head of the Eungsung group, threatening that if she doesn’t, the protest on the rooftop will get much bigger. She doesn’t pay heed to him and walks away, thanking him for the shoe.


Chase-Ryong’s husband, Jae-Min, lands the next morning and immediately holds a press conference, much to her great anger and disappointment. His doing so essentially makes it look like she actually has problems, and he’s a saint for marrying and dealing with such a woman. The Eunsung group also has the mayor on their side because they have funded his campaigns, making it possible for him to reach his position. The Chairperson states that Jae-Min is going to be the next mayor, making things much easier for the Eunsung group.

Oh Kyung-Sook And Her Philanthropic Heart

The lawyer Oh Kyung-Sook becomes popular overnight with her campaign. It is soon clear that she really cares about the welfare of the people and isn’t doing this for any personal gain. In her live broadcast, she goes as far as to call out Do-Hee and label her “Toilet Hwang” because she ends up taking out all the “dirt” produced by the Eunsung group. Do-Hee herself goes to meet Kyung-Sook to resolve the matter, but to no avail; instead, she gets smothered by Kyung-Sook’s excrement (fortunately, we just see a CGI spatter). As the plan didn’t work, Do-Hee decides to use the “Chairperson’s method” to get rid of Oh Kyung-Sook.


Jae-Min’s Dirty Party Tricks

Before the day ends, Jae-Min requests to meet Do-Hee. He shows her some messages between him and his secretary. It looked like when they were abroad, Yi-Seul, the secretary, spent a lot of alone time with Jae-Min. Through the message, we understand that Yi-Seul wanted to have an affair with Jae-Min but he stopped it, so now she is blackmailing him by taking advantage of  the “Me Too” movement. Do-Hee is not entirely sure she should believe Jae-Min, but he assures her by swearing on his baby’s life.

The next day, Do-Hee has done all her research on the young assistant and also figured that she worked at a bar during her time in college. This makes her assume Yi-Seul’s morals and blackmail her back for Jae-Min’s reputation. Yi-Seul is quick to deny the allegations and even says she never sent such messages, but admits quite quickly that Jae-Min did in fact assault her. Do-Hee dismisses her tears as fake and tells her to pack her bags and leave before she makes her past public. Do-Hee leaves the room, never turning back. Before she knows it, when she’s leaving the office Yi-Seul’s body crashes into her car. In her hand is Jae-Min’s missing cuff link that Do-Hee had noticed earlier. This implies that Yi-Seul was actually telling the truth and not Jae-Min. Do-Hee seems instantly traumatized, seeing a girl fall from the roof right in front of her eyes—and possibly because of her.


Jae-Min’s True Colors 

“Queenmaker” Episode 2 begins with the truth behind Yi-Seul and Jae-Min’s story. Before jumping off the roof, Yi-Seul wrote an email to Do-Hee stating that she worked in a bar to cover her college tuition because she wasn’t able to get a grant. She never sold her body to make money, and if just working at a bar was a crime in the eyes of the Eunsung group, then she was guilty. Her unwell mother couldn’t help her, and that’s why she had to take the desperate measure of working at the bar. Her last note is that Do-Hee is the only one who knows about the assault, and she’s the only one who can make a difference in the Eunsung group. Do-Hee immediately confronts Jae-Min with the cuff link. While initially feigning ignorance, Jae-Min is caught when Do-Hee checks his phone and then makes a call to Yi-Seul’s number. The phone rings in the room, and Do-Hee confirms her suspicions. Do-Hee is absolutely disturbed by the idea that she caused an innocent girl to jump to her death by believing Jae-Min’s lies. Jae-Min points out Do-Hee’s hypocrisy because she has done many things before this for the Eunsung family that are big crimes on their own, so why is she suddenly sick to her stomach? Ironically, Jae-Min’s workspace is covered with photos of him being a philanthropist across the globe.

Kyung-Sook’s Safety And Do-Hee’s Change Of Plans

Do-Hee remembers her “Chairperson’s method” plan for Kyung-Sook and rushes to the building she’s at. The whole affair could turn out to be very disastrous for the Eunsung group. But now that she’s developed a conscience, she can’t let another person die under her watch. The men are already there to get Kyung-Sook. Do-Hee comes in their way and tells them to stop because she’s the higher authority there. Kyung-Sook’s right-hand man, Dong-Joo, sees everything that is going down and follows the men up to the roof. Before they can attack Kyung-Sook, Do-Hee rushes in front of her and gets hit instead, but in the process, she accidentally pushes Kyung-Sook off the roof. The protestors are shocked by the view, but Kyung-Sook is saved by a kind of safety net used by the protestors. Naturally, this causes an uproar among the protestors, making Kyung-Sook a hero, who jumped on purpose to have an impactful protest. Both Kyung-Sook and Do-Hee end up in the hospital, while Kyung-Sook gains one million followers on youtube.


Do-Hee’s Absence And Disastrous Outcome

Because of Kyung-Sook’s accidental stunt, the Eunsung group is in a soup and the public is boycotting their products. Do-Hee is literally ‘sick in bed, but the family believes it’s because of witnessing the young girl die in front of her. In her absence, Jae-Min takes full advantage of the situation and suggests all the women are re-employed. He has an elaborate plan to make the disaster go away and change their appearance in public, as he plans on becoming the next mayor. As Chae-Ryong’s sister suspects, Jae-Min is after power and money and nothing else, so the Chairperson slaps him in the face when he incites the idea of getting rid of her daughter and loyal employee Hwang. Jae-Min is put in his place, but she agrees with parts of his plan, including reinstating the employees.

Jae-Min also shows up at Yi-Seul’s funeral when Do-Hee happens to be visiting too, making her blood boil. He places his hand on Do-Hee’s shoulder, frightening her and bringing her to tears. Do-Hee, speaking later to her predecessor, learns that Jae-Min had done something similar before his marriage too, and even with her warnings, Chae-Ryong had married him.


‘Queenmaker’ Episode 2: Ending Explained – Will Do-hee Continue To Work Under Chairperson Son?

Jae-Min is quick to reach out to Kyung-Sook through his new assistant, Ji-Yeon. Ji-Yeon is eager for Do-Hee’s position and will do anything in her position to get there, including, doing sexual favours for Jae-Min. She goes to the hospital and suggests to Kyung-Sook that the employees will be reinstated if Kyung-Sook can forget about everything else that has happened. Kyung-Sook agrees to let bygones be bygones as long as the labor force is happy. In the meanwhile, Chairperson Son has dropped in popularity amongst the people of Seoul, and the mayor tries to call in more favors from her by using that as an excuse. It’s a failed activity, as Son is angry enough to use all the information she has on the mayor to get him to resign early through public humiliation, not just for him but for his entire family. At the same time, Jae-Min appears like the big man by heading to the protestors himself and promising them better employability because they are “part of the Eunsung family”. Kyung-Sook is impressed by Jae-Min’s gimmicks, and as he creates a show for the camera, he becomes a hero, the next mayoral candidate for Seoul City.

Do-Hee returns to work with Chairperson Son. Son tells her that she has been away too long at the time of disaster, but she can understand seeing someone die in front of her own eyes must’ve been difficult. Earlier, Do-Hee met with her daughter Seo-Jin, who wanted to expose Jae-Min by soiling Yi-Seul’s name. She has an elaborate plan and wants Do-Hee to execute it for her, but Do-Hee refuses, saying the loyal dog might come back to bite the daughter. Now, when the chairperson tells her to forget about Jae-Min’s “mistake”, Do-Hee refuses to bend the knee and leaves by denying the chairperson’s wishes. This means war for Do-Hee, so we can only guess who she’s going to team up with to go head-to-head with the Eunsung group. 


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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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