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Hotel del Luna: Episode 1

I have a good feeling about this one. The Hong sisters’ new fantasy drama, Hotel del Luna, premiered this weekend with a compelling yet comical premise about an otherworldly hotel. The first episode hit an impressive 7.3% viewership rating, and this solid introduction certainly deserved the hype and popularity. It was a well-woven introduction to the origins of Hotel del Luna, how our capricious protagonist became the owner of this creepy yet fascinating establishment, and the agreement that gave her the next manager of this odd lodge.

  
EPISODE 1 RECAP

A person wrapped in a head scarf leads a horse down a dirt road with a wagon carrying what looks like a wooden coffin. The head scarf unravels in the wind, and we see that this supposed historical warrior with a sword is our protagonist, who we’ll later know as Jang Man-wol (IU). A group of soldiers discover the blood-stained scarf and race on horseback toward their wanted suspect.

That night, Man-wol stops at a tent for food and a drink, and the serving woman wonders aloud who this mysterious warrior is. Irascible Man-wol complains about the tasteless alcohol and chatty woman, and she proceeds to pour the alcohol on the coffin.

The woman asks if someone died or if Man-wol killed someone. She knows that the only people that wander through this area in these harsh conditions have either killed someone or are going to kill someone. Irritated by this woman, Man-wol threatens to cut off her tongue, but the woman isn’t frightened; rather, astutely asks what Man-wol is searching for.

Man-wol answers that she’s looking for a lodge where the dead can rest, and the woman identifies this place as the Moon Lodge. Man-wol’s eyes widen at the mention of this lodge, and she asks where she can find it. The woman says that only the dead can venture there and looks to the crowd of ghosts behind Man-wol.

The woman asks how many spirits lie in the coffin, and Man-wol sadly admits that these people died because of her. She then asks how many people Man-wol killed for the dead in the coffin, and short-tempered Man-wol draws her sword, demanding the woman to direct her to the lodge.

Noticing the engraving on the sword, the woman learns Man-wol’s name, which means full moon. Man-wol tears up as she tells the woman that she’s trying to take responsibility for the lost lives. Then, she holds the sword against her neck and prepares to kill herself if that’s the only way for her to find this lodge.

The woman, a deity named Mago disguised in human form, pities Man-wol for thinking that taking her own life will make up for the death she’s caused. But Man-wol claims that her life is the only thing she can sacrifice now and digs the sword into her neck. Mago reiterates that the dead gather at the Moon Lodge and looks to the horseback soldiers arriving behind Man-wol.

Man-wol positions herself to fight these soldiers, but they turn into dust as they ride past her. The woman tells that she’s killed these soldiers before, and Man-wol remembers slaughtering them and picking up the bloodied scarf.

Holding the scarf in her hand, Man-wol looks at her deserted surroundings and wonders if she’s arrived in the Moon Lodge as a demonic spirit. Mago has also disappeared, but her voice tells Man-wol, “You arrogant, foolish, and self-pitying human — now that you’ve walked into the place of your punishment, take responsibility for your sins.”

Then, a shadow approaches from behind, and Man-wol turns to defend herself against the attacker, but she stabs her sword into a tree. Her past life suddenly flashes before her eyes, and she cries at the faraway memories. The tree pulls the sword from Man-wol’s hands and absorbs it before growing taller with extending branches.

A sudden gust blows through and collects all the wood scraps to build a large lodge right in front of Man-wol and the mysterious tree. From afar, Mago comments that the Moon Lodge has met its new owner. She opens up the wooden coffin — full of bloody swords and ornaments — and tells the spirits that she will escort them to their resting spot. Then, she leads the horse on the night road lit by fireflies.

In the year 1998, a father (cameo by Oh Ji-ho) apologizes to his son for not getting him anything for his birthday, and the son assures him that it’s okay. A couple passing by drops money, and when Dad tries to claim it in finders keepers style, the son shakes his head and returns the money to the couple.

The modernized Mago appears (this time as a women peddling flowers) and commends the boy’s righteous actions, and Dad tries to wave her off. The woman tells the boy that his father is his misfortune, but she assures him that the suffering in early years will balance out to great fortune in the future.

Dad tries to dismiss the crazy flower seller and promises his son a birthday present. But the precocious young lad assures Dad that he doesn’t need anything special for his birthday and requests that Dad not do anything dangerous to make money.

Then, they’re interrupted by police sirens and an emergency search in the waterfront. The first responders carry a dead body out of the water, and the spirit also emerges and sees her own dead body. She also spots her potential perpetrator in the group of nosy spectators. Then, she looks to the full moon and disintegrates to dust.

In a sleek dress, Man-wol walks into her office, where we see photos of her and the lodge throughout the years, dating back to the early 1900s. She sees the full moon from her window, and her assistant, Manager Noh, notes that the full moon will attract many guests tonight. Man-wol seems annoyed by the impending flood of these bothersome spirits and tells Manager Noh to open for business.

Prickly Man-wol shares that the full moon always puts her in a bad mood, but she’s especially cranky today. She orders Manager Noh to reject any spirits who’ve had extremely unnatural deaths. but Manager Noh calmly responds that they shouldn’t discriminate against customers but promises to keep these unfortunate spirits out of Man-wol’s sight.

Man-wol glares at the full moon and curses at this repulsive sight. The lodge opens for business, with the Hotel del Luna sign flickering on and the building unfolding into a large castle under the bright full moon.

In the night streets, Dad flees from the police with a chunky bag in his hands. He trips and rolls down a flight of stairs, and his body seems to go limp. But he gets right up, rubbing his head, and he runs off with the cash from the register.

While running through the streets, Dad notices Hotel del Luna and hesitates to walk into the building in case he needs to pay. As he dusts off his jacket and ties his shoes to look appropriate for this fancy place, the drowned ghost enters the hotel. The receptionist asks how long it’s been since she’s died, and she estimates around ten days. Dad watches them from outside and then follows them up the elevator to a large fancy lobby.

In the lobby, Dad sits across from the drowned water ghost and asks if they need to pay to just sit there. Water Ghost doesn’t know since it’s also her first time at the hotel, and Dad asks how she got so wet. Ghost says that she was in the Han River, and Dad finds that curious.

Water Ghost notices the blood behind Dad’s ear and asks how he injured himself. Dad explains that he rolled down the stairs and flinches when he touches the injury. At the end of the stairs, we see Dad’s limp body with blood pooling around his head and his finger flinching ever so slightly. Wait, is he dead or alive?

Receptionist JI HYUN-JOONG (Block B’s Pyo Ji-hoon) notifies Manager Noh that they’ve received their first water ghost in a while. Manager Noh tells Hyun-joong to escort the water ghost to a room as soon as possible to keep the unpleasant sight away from owner Man-wol. Then, Dad walks by and briefly makes awkward eye contact before scooting away.

Manager Noh recognizes that Dad doesn’t belong at the hotel because he’s not dead yet and orders Receptionist Hyun-joong to quickly usher this unintended guest out of the hotel before Man-wol kills him. As Dad walks by a fancy vase with a gold snake, he’s tempted to steal it but decides that he has other priorities for now. As he runs off, the gold snake comes to life and follows him.

Dad finds a sign to an outdoor pool and wanders through the door to a beach. He’s greeted by the guest manager, CHOI SEO-HEE (Bae Hae-sun), who asks for his room number to further assist him. Dad politely declines the offer and runs back to the hotel.

Dad then wanders into the bar, where he’s met by bartender KIM SUN-BI (Shin Jung-geun). He smiles sheepishly and heads up to the balcony, where he marvels at the height of the hotel.

Manager Noh notifies his team that they have a living guest exploring the hotel, completely oblivious to the hotel’s purpose. Guest Manager Seo-hee worries that the living man will die if Man-wol learns about this, but bartender Sun-bi is more worried about their boss hanging this over their heads for at least 50 years.

Man-wol would repeat a catch phrase whenever they did something wrong — a threat to board them on the bus to the afterworld — and the team shudders at the thought of their impending scolding. Receptionist Hyun-joong worries that he’s at fault for letting this man in, and the other two are ready to throw him under the bus because they have business to tend to in the living world. Ha.

Manager Noh worries that this man will never leave this hotel if Man-wol discovers him, but it seems to be too late. Man-wol notices that the gold snake on her vase has disappeared and figures that there must be a thief in the building.

Dad continues to obliviously tour the hotel premises and finds his way to the ancient tree. He sees flowers blooming on a branch and remembers his son, Chan-sung, asking for flowers for his birthday. He jumps to pick off the flowers, but a gust of wind knocks him to the ground. When he tries to get up, he’s held to the ground by someone’s foot. It’s Man-wol.

Man-wol notices that Dad experiencing pain from her foot holding him down and deduces that he must still be alive. She accuses him of theft, and when he denies this, the golden snake slithers out of his jacket. She knows that he was planning on stealing and warns him that the snake bite could kill him.

Dad begs for mercy and says that he can’t die. Man-wol coldly says that everyone eventually dies and explains that he’s already dying, Dad notices his fading hands, and we see Dad flatlining at the hospital, with crying Chan-sung helplessly watching.

At the hotel, Dad pleads for his life, as he need to return to his son. Man-wol notices the blue flowers on the ground, and Dad explains that he picked it off the tree for his son’s birthday. She doesn’t believe him because the tree doesn’t blossom, but he promises that it’s true. She wonders if this is a sign to let this man live. Dad promises to live righteously and raise his son well.

Man-wol agrees to let him live, on one condition: Dad offers his son to Man-wol. She’ll give him 20 more years to raise his son, but after that, she’ll claim him. Starting to fade away, Dad desperately agrees to her terms to return to his son. She taps the top of Dad’s head, and he jolts awake in the hospital room.

When Dad opens his eyes, Chan-sung calls for the doctors to check his Dad, who’s just come back from the dead. Dad looks tearfully at his son, who continues to sob in shock. At the hotel, Man-wol realizes that she never gave Dad the flower to give to his son, and she throws it back at the tree. Upon reaching the tree, the flower fizzles into dust.

All bandaged up, Dad walks with Chan-sung at the hospital and recognizes the photo of the woman, whose funeral procession is escorted by her fellow police colleagues. The woman is the drowned Han River ghost, and Dad wonders if everything was a dream.

At the hotel, the Water Ghost tells Man-wol that she was a policewoman who was killed after being discovered during an undercover investigation. Man-wol unsympathetically relays her sympathies and informs Water Ghost that she’ll be rewarded with a special ride to the afterworld, but Water Ghost has unfinished business in the living world.

Man-wol warns Water Ghost that revenge is futile and advises Water Ghost to move on from her past life to reap the rewards of her honorable death in her next life. But Water Ghost insists that she must stay to catch the criminal she was pursuing because the murderer supposedly can’t be reached by law.

With a hint of annoyance, Man-wol notes that Water Ghost carries a lot of responsibility and asks if Water Ghost has any money saved up to pay for services in the living world. Water Ghost nods, and then Man-wol immediately puts on her best customer service smile to offer her help. Water Ghost reaches into the back of her head and pulls out a slimey bullet. Man-wol takes it and smiles.

At an award ceremony, Mayor Park Gyu-ho (cameo by Kim Won-hae) awards a local businessman — who we saw suspiciously walk away from the scene of the Han River body discovery — with an innovative business award. They’re interrupted by a piercing audio feedback sound, and all the cameras turn off. The door opens, and Man-wol walks in with her fancy shotgun.

Mayor Park yells at everyone to stop this woman with the gun, and the revived cameras turn to where he’s pointing to find nothing. Man-wol is only visible to him. She cocks the gun and shoots Water Ghost’s bullet directly at Mayor Park’s chest. The mayor caves in pain and announces that he’s just been shot, but he finds no wound. Then, from behind, he sees Water Ghost, or Officer Lee.

The cameras catch Mayor Park freaking out and desperately crawling away from this ghost, while confirming with the businessman that he killed Officer Lee. He says this in front of rolling cameras, and Officer Lee cries at this confession. Mission complete, Man-wol walks out with a satisfied smile.

Manager Noh commends Man-wol for this proxy punishment, and Man-wol presumes that Officer Lee will return to the hotel after sufficiently torturing her perpetrators. She asks Manager Noh if he retrieved the ghost’s payment, and he reveals a pile of diamonds that Officer Lee confiscated from criminals.

Man-wol looks delighted that these diamonds will cover her champagne costs, but Manager Noh takes half of the diamonds to pay off loans and then an additional half of the remaining diamonds to pay off future loans. Man-wol scolds Manager Noh for poor management of hotel funds, but Manager Noh clarifies that these loans are for Man-wol’s personal expenses — her car, shopping, and champagne.

Man-wol complains that she never needed to worry about money with her former manager. Manager Noh reminds her that the manager before that had her suffering through a farming austerity and suggests that she invest the remaining diamonds in the 20-year nurture of her new manager.

Man-wol reluctantly agrees to Manager Noh’s suggestion and vows to work Chan-sung hard when he grows up. When Dad receives the large sum of money in his bank account, he determines that what he experienced yesterday wasn’t a dream. Bandaged and hobbling on his crutches, Dad sets out to find this hotel and return the money.

As Chan-sung waits for Dad, a car pulls up. The windows roll down to reveal Man-wol, who inspects the child and smiles. Man-wol tells Manager Noh to send flowers — evening primrose flowers — every year for Chan-sung’s birthday so that Dad never forgets his promise.

We jump to the present in 2019, and we see grown GU CHAN-SUNG (Yeo Jin-gu) interviewing for a hotel manager position in Korea after working in Singapore. He explains to his interviewer that he had declined the offer last year because he had promised his late father that he would stay out of Korea for 20 years. Having overcome that barrier, he’s decided to take the offer. He figures that it was his father’s ominous superstitious beliefs that prompted this promise.

Just in case, Chan-sung asks about a hotel covered in ivy, with a sky bar on the 100th floor, and a beach-like outdoor space that may have existed 20 years ago. The interviewer looks confused, and Chan-sung looks relieved that this hotel is surely imaginary.

As Chan-sung gets escorted to his office, he’s informed that a birthday present arrived for him. Chan-sung stops in his tracks and mildly panics when he hears that the birthday delivery was flowers. In his office, he wonders what the flower delivery means, since it’s been over 20 years now. He finds a letter attached to the delivery from Hotel del Luna.

Chan-sung opens the letter and finds a hire letter from Man-wol requesting that he start his new job the next day. There’s even a map of the location in Myeongdong. At the subway station, Chan-sung wonders if he should visit the hotel, but he decides against it and throws away the flowers.

In the subway, Chan-sung squeezes through the crowds and enters the next train, which he finds completely empty except for Man-wol, sitting with the flowers he just threw away. Chan-sung confronts Man-wol and asks if she’s come to collect him now. He’s well aware that he’s been sold to her and that she had sent him flowers every year for the past 20 years.

Chan-sung admits that he felt uneasy every year when these flowers arrived and acknowledges that he jumped from country to country to avoid her. He didn’t expect her to actually come to collect him, as he believed the deal was over at the 20-year mark last year.

Man-wol slyly says that she let him off the hook for a year, so she expects him to come work for her starting tomorrow, as promised. Based on his father’s warnings, Chan-sung knows that Man-wol is a scary person, so he asks if she will kill him if he declines her offer.

Man-wol realizes that Chan-sung doesn’t fear her yet and figures that her beauty masks her menace. Chan-sung acknowledges this and reject her job offer. She regrets sending him flowers every year and says that she should have sent him a beheaded canary instead.

Determined to instill fear, Man-wol offers a different birthday present this year. The train lights turn off, and Man-wol slowly approaches Chan-sung, who pleads that she give up on him. She strokes his face, and Chan-sung asks if she plans on beheading him like the canary she spoke of. Then, she blows on his face.

Chan-sung closes his eyes, but nothing happens. Man-wol wishes him a happy birthday and assures him that this gift will be very special. The train returns to normal, and he leaves, Chan-sung reclaims the flowers and explains that he only threw away the flowers because they would need to be inspected when he crosses borders. Man-wol looks amused by Chan-sung’s unassuming nature.

As Chan-sung walks home, he wonders what Man-wol did to him. He imagines Man-wol seductively stroking his face and wonders if he’s become a toy. Then, he remembers his old father firmly ordering Chan-sung to run away if he ever met Man-wol, so he runs home to pack his things.

Chan-sung’s vision gets blurry as he packs his suitcase and when he goes outside to hail a taxi. Then, he notices that a pale woman in sunglasses appears in front of him.

At the hotel, Man-wol seems satisfied with her gift of vision — that is, vision of the dead. Manager Noh shares his concerns that giving Chan-sung this vision without any forewarning may cause more trouble and possible harm. Man-wol belatedly realizes this and figures that a dead Chan-sung wouldn’t be useful.

Chan-sung spots an upcoming taxi and tells the pale woman next to him that he has first dibs. The woman turns to him, and he tries to confirm that she must have seen him waiting. The pale woman says that she can’t see, and then takes off her sunglasses to reveal two bloody holes where her eyes would have been. Ah!

Shocked at this sight, Chan-sung rubs his eyes and realizes that he’s witnessing a dead person. He gapes as this dead person walks past him, staying silent so that the ghost can’t follow his voice. But when the taxi arrives, the ghost immediately turns around to the sound of Chan-sung’s voice talking to the taxi driver. Petrified by the ghost, Chan-sun fails to get into the taxi and runs for his life.

Man-wol follows Chan-sung as he flees with his suitcase in tow. He runs into the ghost at an unexpected corner and then yells as he runs in the opposite direction. After multiple laps around the neighborhood, Chan-sung opts to hide, but mischievous Man-wol peers over the ledge to drop a stone on him. That’s enough to startle scaredy-cat Chan-sung, who runs off screaming once again.

Chan-sung finally gets cornered by this ghost, and Man-wol watches with amusement. He yells at her to go away, and when she tries to take off her sunglasses, he yells at her to stop. “I know that you have no eyes, but it’s so scary!!!” LOL, I love this.

Showing some mercy, Man-wol intervenes and covers Chan-sung’s mouth. Once he falls silent, Man-wol throws a pebble in the opposite direction, and the ghost follows the sound and leaves. Chan-sung gets himself together, and Man-wol says that her gift will accompany him across borders and can’t be thrown away like the flowers.

Chan-sung asks if Man-wol sent the ghost to him, and Man-wol clarifies that he can just see what he couldn’t before. He’s crushed by this new frightening reality. Man-wol suggests that they go find a good restaurant she saw on TV, and Chan-sung seems incredulous by her casual suggestion to grab a bite together.

Chan-sung asserts that he won’t go to the restaurant with Man-wol until she returns his eyes to normal, but Man-wol has the upper hand here. She warns him that if they don’t make it to the restaurant in time, then he’ll have ghost vision forever.

At the restaurant, Chan-sung keeps his eyes closed in fear of seeing more ghosts while Man-wol takes pictures of this famous foodie location. Outside, a homeless man eats leftovers and recognizes Man-wol as the woman who shot the gun at him. Aha, he’s Mayor Park. He remembers her and looks ready for revenge.

Inside the restaurant, Man-wol tries to assuage Chan-sung’s concerns about seeing terrifying ghosts all the time by pointing out a harmless child ghost in the restaurant. She says that most ghosts are like this — either because they haven’t realized that they’re dead or because they find something they were obsessed with in life.

Chan-sung finds Man-wol extremely strange and asks if she’s dead or alive. Looking a bit somber, Man-wol says that she’s not dead yet — she’s merely existing for now. He wonders if that implies that she’ll die one day, and she jokingly asks if he’ll kill her. Chan-sung only wishes for Man-wol to disappear from his life.

As they walk through the streets, Man-wol orders Chan-sung to buy some milk tea and threatens to kill him if the shop closes on them. After he leaves, Man-wol spots the indignant former mayor from the corner of her eye and prepares to confront him. The mayor recognizes her as the shooter, and Man-wol informs him that his afterlife will be even worse than his current life.

The foul mayor blames Man-wol for his ruined life and stabs her with a sharpened rod. He laughs at his successful stab, and Man-wol remembers her former sword fights. As the mayor walks away, Chan-sung worriedly runs to Man-wol to check if she’s okay.

Disheartened by how her actions mirrored the mayor’s attack, Man-wol wonders why humans never acknowledge their own wrongdoings and always blame others. Man-wol gives Chan-sung one opportunity to walk away from her now and have her disappear from his life. After a moment of hesitation, Chan-sung runs away from her.

Man-wol sits against the light post like a ragdoll and closes her eyes in defeat. Then, Chan-sung reappears with a wagon in tow to carry Man-wol. He worriedly tells her to get into the wagon and wipes away the dirt in the back, but Man-wol gets up on her own just fine. She pulls the rod out of her chest and calls Chan-sung weak.

When Chan-sung tries to leave, she doesn’t allow him. She suspends the rod in the air, and for a moment, Chan-sung suspects that she’s going to kill him. But the rod shoots past him, through the alleyway, and pierces the former mayor, who crumbles into dust. Man-wol says that Chan-sung missed his opportunity to leave. “Now, if you run away, I’ll kill you.”

  
COMMENTS

This first episode captured my attention with its perfect balance of comedy, creepiness, and thoughtful storytelling. I liked the mysterious mood, which was a crafty way of keeping certain elements vague but also a great way to keep the audience intrigued with just enough information to keep us curious. The amount of background provided in this first episode felt just right — not stretched out or truncated — with teasers to keep us interested in the full backstory on Man-wol and the curse of the hotel. This episode was also super pleasing to the eye with the beautiful graphics and editing. I loved how the hotel unfolded into a massive castle (almost Harry Potter style) and how Man-wol’s supernatural abilities were accentuated by the colors and tasteful editing.

Considering the Hong sisters’ recent flops, I’m very cautiously optimistic about this show. It’s too early to say, but I have a feeling that this could be their big comeback show because the writing feels very strong. The Hong sisters’ style really shone through in this first episode, with the puns and extended skits of dramatic irony, but in addition to the Hong sisters’ signature elements, I found the writing to be very tight. The transitions in dialogue felt seamless, with one topic naturally flowing into the next, and that was obvious throughout the whole episode. I appreciated the thought put into the writing, and I hope that this high standard of writing continues.

I like our leads, and I’m looking forward to seeing their chemistry. After being blown out of the water by IU in My Ajusshi, I was excited to hear about her dramaland comeback but also doubtful that any role could top her raw and profound performance in that show. So far, my doubts have subsided because the role of Man-wol is so different and allows her to showcase her range. She’s full of grief, mischief, sass, menace, and petulance — it’s so fun to watch it all come together. IU’s Man-wol is a combination of the Grim Reaper and Marry Poppins, and I love it.

I think IU’s Man-wol will pair nicely with Yeo Jin-gu’s Chan-sung, who seems to be “weak” in ways that she won’t allow herself to be. She’ll surely experience some growth in embracing some of the tender moments of kindness instead of writing them off as weakness. While Chan-sung isn’t just “weak” as Man-wol puts it, he is a full on coward when it comes to ghosts, and I am so amused by this. I appreciate how Yeo Jin-gu plays such a delightful scared-cat by fully leaning into all the comedic elements. His ghost-fleeing sequence was incredible, and I loved his full commitment to the frazzled chase. He’s making me chuckle again as I think about it, and I can’t wait for more spook and laughs.

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The Beauty and the Beast and Maleficent references this show is giving us cannot be unseen, especially when Man-wol is being the Beast and Maleficent to Chan-sung. This is a great premiere episode, with a nice balance between the supernatural, mystery, spooky, and comedy. There is so much to explore in this drama so we will never run out of things to look forward to in the first half. I am hoping that this show penned by the Hong Sisters will have its second half stay as good as its first half, which is what they failed to deliver in their previous works.

Performance-wise, IU as Jang Man-wol is fantastic. It is only the first episode but she showed a range of emotions. We all know Yeo Jin-gu is a great actor especially when he is on darker dramas like Circle and Crowned Clown, but his character is shocked and scared most of the time here. We still have a lot of episodes so I'm not rating his acting yet.

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Agree with you fully! Really impressed with IU’s acting, but Yeo Jin-Gu seems slightly uncomfortable/out of place in this role he’s playing so far. But it’s just the first episode, so we can wait and see.

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I don't know if it is just me, but his comedic timing here is somewhat off. Maybe it is the writing or directing but I am not sure. Also, having a character who is scared most of the time gets tiring easily. Hope he gets to show his acting abilities on this show.

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@sensationalfantasy
NOTE: DON'T READ IF YOU ARE HAPPY WITH THE DRAMA

The directing isn't doing either of them any favours and doesn't work to either leads strengths.

As the drama is framing wide and the camera relatively static so its easier to mesh with its CGI - its creating issues for both actors.

- IU: If you watch her best scenes in MA, the camera only focuses on her emotion for short moments, instead the camera was choreographed to her every action (its like they understood her background was music film clips and dance). When the camera is wide they are struggling to make her small frame dominate the scene.
- Yeo Jin-Gu past roles aren't those of physical actor, and as he is often framed wide here it requires the actors' whole body to sell the timing and he doesn't yet do that convincingly. Moreover, without his previous range of micro expressions it is even more noticeable when he falls out of character.

If you are trying to invoke fantasy, the director can't let us see the edges...and here the edges of their make-believe are all to visible. At present, the directing never allows us time to build emotion in early scenes, instead it jumps to long CGI shots as a crutch...even more distracting when they sit in the Ghibli wheelhouse.

I hope this settles down and finds its rhythm but I fear it is the early signs of a mismatch.

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I am happy with the drama so far BUT knowing that the leads are great actors made me want to see more of them hence the performance-wise comment. Your comment made me see through the directing! I agree it isn't doing any of their strengths a favor. I also hope this show finds the right rhythm and settles with that. I am liking it (so far) and I hope I won't have to drop it because of this mismatch.

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I think this drama would feel more comfortable if they cast an older, more established actress as the lead.
As much as I like to see IU for her visuals, she still doesn't have enough to carry the show (My Ajusshi just happens to suit her limited expressions well, and she is paired with the LSK, who can carry any drama on his own).
Same goes with YJG, I don't think he can carry a drama as a lead, but his character is less prominent compared with IU.
The drama is fast paced and visually beautiful, and I anticipate there will be loads of quirky side characters, so hopefully it balance up the leads shortcomings, but so far the best act is from the boy's father cameo.

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How about Tim Burton's Corpse Bride?! This drama has so much Tim Burton's vibe!

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It gives off that spooky Ghibli feeling too!

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I saw the first episode of Hotel Del Luna. The production values were very good. But it seems the story and premise will borrow heavily from Miyazaki work's, especially "Spirited Away" and "Howl's Moving Castle." Instead of an gross bath house owner, IU was stunning and stylish hotel keeper.

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Let's see if the show will stay that way. References aren't bad so let's hope the show will give us something unique!

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I hated the scared wimpy female lead in Masters Sun the first few episodes, so I am giving his comparable but male character a chance until at least episode 4 to find a groove I like.

I think, by the way, that he's a reincarnation of a past lover, even if she doesn't know it herself. That tree we're told never leafs or flowers, but does so for the dad to find. So the male lead is someone special.

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Chan-sung being a reincarnation was somewhat hinted by the teasers and trailers. I really hope he somewhat keeps his strong character towards Man-wol but improve his way of dealing ghosts. There is nothing wrong with being scared but he needs to face them in his new workplace. I'm giving him until ep 4 to make me like him but dramas don't always work like that (Shing Sung-rok in The Last Empress is an example. Didn't like him until episode 10 HAHA).

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Never saw the teasers but glad to know my instincts are right! Yep, episode 4 is my make or break it episode. Providing I like the drama okay till then I will keep going. I learned my lesson with Healer, which I dropped twice before getting to episode 4, but when I finally persevered it became my best liked drama of all.

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He actually faced the ghosts head on by the end of ep2

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He did. Haha. I hope he continues to face them properly like the way he did with the female ghost on ep 2 (I didn't want to comment about things that happened on ep 2 here).

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@sensationalfantasy Lol, I don’t think that’s really a spoiler. We’re good.

I think the director wanted YJG’s exaggerated frantic expressions (like how Big Sun started out in Master’s Sun). It’s expected he will gradually grow comfortable to them so the scaredy-cat will have room to become brave.

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I haven't continued watching HDL, I was intrigued because of wrong reasons and not for the drama itself. I found ep 1 ok, IU is so pretty. The acting was ok but I found YJG's character awkward. He's young but the character is older and experienced. It doesn't help that he does not seem to act his character's age.

Anyways..TLE has 26 episodes, it requires more warming up compared to a 16 episode drama. (Making excuses for SSR is my thing hahahaha).

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I knew you'd pop up when SSR is mentioned! HAHA. (I also do that) I'm not really thinking so deep of YJG's character (at least not yet) but the character description about being old and experienced was not what show gave us in the first episode. I am going to blame the writing and directing for this mismatch.

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Loved the scene where IU destroyed the crony politician. He believed he was indestructible and Man-wol plus the Police Lady ghost showed him he was as vulnerable as anybody.

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@fgb4877
I think this is about revealing who IU really is.

1 - Vengeance is paid for by earthly money.
The coffin IU brought on horse cart was full of jewels...what vengeance did she by from the original Inn Keeper?
2 - IU not only sought vengeance by is happy to inflict personal vendettas (off the books). Is this why she is the scariest in the hotel?

Personally I have a problem with the often repeated SK drama trope that vigilante justice is the only way for ordinary people to achieve justice...If that is the case, then the social compact is broken...only made more sorrowful by the fact that the make-believe nature of any restitution means that there is no real hope.

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Dear DramaLama, Man-Wol character is flawed, yes (if the character was perfect then there shouldn't be much room to grow).
It seems UI's character is a mercenary.
As the problem with the representation of vigilante justice in SK, I see it as a veiled comment on a society that basically lives to work but that probably doesn't perceive getting a lot in return. If they are that productive, why can't have them better things? (or better life quality -which is way more important-).
Of course, I can be sorely mistaken.
At this moment I am cautiosly optimistic about this new Hong Sister's outing. Loved "My Girlfriend is a Gumiho" and even better "Master's Sun", but "Warm and Cozy" (*cough* Mad&Boring *cough*) almost ruined K-Dramas for me.
Cheers!

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I so agree with your comments about vigilante justice, but it never surprises me too much because SK is, if anything, even more noticeably preoccupied with corruption in high places. I always want to say bravo to the dramas for highlighting corruption. It's not always widely recognized but most political scientists will tell you that the biggest obstacle to democracy is bureaucratic corruption. So for fairly new or emerging democracies, stamping out corruption is an urgent task and if corrupt police or politicians won't do it, community actors and vigilantes must take on more of a role. So I completely agree with you about vigilante justice as I come from Canada, one of the least corrupt places in the world, but I definitely have more sympathy for vigilantes where democracy is newer, corruption still extensive, and thus police and politicians can't be completely trusted to address an individual's wrongs in a world of bribes and graft.

Anyway, because I see such an emphasis on bureaucratic corruption in kdramas, and heroes whether legal, illegal
, bureaucrats or just groups of neighbours, I think there's a lot of hope. People are paying attention, South Koreans are addressing these problems in real life and fictional life.

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Mr. Barbrery, I am Venezuelan and believe me, corruption is a plague. It is even worse if it comes from the highest places in power. In fact, it is said that our modern Latin America resembles (as far as murder per 100,000 inhabitants) Medieval Europe. When impunity goes rampant, so does violence and vigilantism.

And as far as South Korea, several years ago I came across a very interesting book called "Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and his Turtleboat Armada" by Park Yune-Hee. It is a Dictator Park Chung-Hee era propaganda and tried very obliquely to shame SK's First Republic and the way they had to abandon Seoul for Busan by mocking its Imjin War parallel: how the Joseon court abandoned Hanseong (Seoul) and its inhabitants and later tried to exchange four provinces of Korea for the lives of four princes (if my memory serves well).
It is said that even if General Yi Sun-Shin fought against Japanese invaders, his nemesis were king Seongjo's advisors... his turtleboat armada saved their necks again and again and they still twarted his efforts to win the war!.
Probably for Koreans, corruption equals traitors.

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@fgb4877
"...Probably for Koreans, corruption equals traitors."

Wow. Thanks for that insight.
If that is the case, it may have unspoken parallels in sageuks where corruption and traitor are so intertwined.

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There's a drama about that admiral and his turtle boat so I know exactly what you're talking about!

Corruption should equal traitors to the country because it undermines a country's very foundation. I have never been bribed or given a bribe once in my life so the stories from places where corruption is rife dismay and disturb me. What's most bothersome is when it's treated as a daily fact of life. That's why SK's preoccupation with it should be seen as a sign of health.

Love the word "impunity". Exactly the right word and so infuriating.

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Dear SadKDramaLama, it is an unusual pleasure to give someone an insight. Also, social pacts are dinamic, not static. If you see closely in every social crisis there is a redefinition of parts of that pact... the king believes he is almighty and can torture or plunder their nobles?, then limit his power (Magna Carta (TM) ). The ruling class lives on another planet and doesn't care for the welfare of their citizenship?... well... then is time to get rid of them and start something new (French Revolution (TM) ).

Hope to read you soon!.

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Yes, the first episode sucked me in. IU is looking spectacular and I am looking forward to YJG not being a love robot. I like the Hong sisters work, even the stuff that other people don't...yes, they are sometime weak in the second half but most of their work sucks me in like a black hole. They have the magic.

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Unfortunately, I've had enough of YJG lately. I'll give this one a pass most likely.

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Try Go Go Squid, Linda, for a handsome male lead. Li Xian is killing the cold rich guy role in a way lots of actors don't - he's never been on my radar before but seems a fine actor. I'm not as impressed with Yang Zi the female lead - seems a bit too much of a bobblehead - but I'm hoping she comes into her own (she's supposed to be a genius) once she's not so nervous of him cause she fell in love at first sight. My favorite character dynamic is actually the male lead with his acerbic grandpa, but there's room for a fun fluffy romance as well.

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He's really hot in Tientsin Mystic.

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I might try it just because I like him in Squid. He's got personality as well as looks, a plus for me when it comes to c-dramas where I find the combo quite rare.

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I really sound picky lately, but I don't like Li Xian as a lead. I liked him as 2nd lead in Only Side by Side With You and Medical Examiner Dr Qin - he's really good in Dr Qin. He just isn't the type of guy I find attractive. Plus lately I seem to like the Xianxia and Wuxia more than the modern dramas. Thanks for the rec'd though!
On the other hand, I'm totally obsessed with The Untamed and Xiao Zhan. For the first time I'm reading the novel and really liking it, plus I want to watch the Donghua if I can find it.

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Is the Untamed boy love? I thought it was so not my cuppa, but I'll take a look at it. Watched only Side by Side With You and didn't even know Li Xian was in it so that's how much he registered with me from that one.

Yes, I'm more into the wuxi and xianxia too but there seems to be a dearth at the moment compared to the glut of the last year.

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@barbrey Well, the novel is certainly boy love, but you gotta know Chinese censors will never go there. It's a very nice bromance, however. But mostly I've read several detailed synopsis of the story and I love the story. And Xiao Zhan nails the part he plays. He's cute as can be, charming, playful - at first, because I don't know exactly what happens next but it's intense. And I'm curious how the C-drama will end it.

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I am loving the lead in that too. He's totally got my attention. I read somewhere that there are some fans that find him too wooden in Go Go Squid. I don't feel that though. He's just got something that makes me want to watch him. He's got me straight trippin boo. Ironically, supposedly the lead female is getting kudos for her acting which I find just okay and very forgettable. The drama though is 65% flashbacks which has got to stop... I tried to watch the forensic medical drama he was in and his character is uber adorable and sexy, but it's so gruesome. I just couldn't continue.

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I keep expecting the female lead to do something brilliant but pretty sure she's going to continue the shy, submissive thing throughout now. I agree, neither the actress nor the character is doing a lot for me, which is too bad because I thought the girl genius and online singer cosplayer would have good storylines.

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I agree with you. Loved the first episode! I'm not a fan of ghost dramas (I usually skip them) but this was one was intriguing, well-executed and mysterious. It had a good amount of comedy too.

LOVE IU!!!!!!!! She looks beautiful, intelligent, smart, arrogant, self-confident, and at the same time, sad, vulnerable, sorrowfull and miserable. It astonishes me that everything of that could blend together so well! Can't wait to see more of her and know more about her story and her real feelings!

YJG...Not feeling him yet. I hope his character will find its depths. Because, right now, I don't see anything more than just a righteous but scared-cat young man. I hope the Hong sisters can deliver a strong character in him.

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Can anyone explain the title? I mean, why it's del luna instead of de la luna? I refuse to believe it's just a silly mistake.

She's some great warrior? She felt regret for killing so many people so that makes her the new hotel owner? Will they even bother to explain, maybe better not even try.

Why do they need money? I thought the hotel wasn't real, but it is? They have loans? If they were real people would know the location, the father would have found them, regular guests would com inside.
She can easily change objects and her dress why does she spend so much? Also, she would have access to so much information from the dead about money there is no way she would not be rich.

I didn't like it much, felt like a poor copy of Master's Sun but without the charming main couple.

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No, manwol had betrayed someone and might have killed many innocent lives in the situation and that guilt made her to find that hotel to repent for her mistakes but got stuck in it unknowingly. The dead looking tree in there represents her time being stopped and she hasn’t got the memories of her sins after being forced to join the hotel and serve ghosts to heal and fulfill their wishes they couldn’t fulfill during they were live until they take the bus to the after life. The main reason of her cause, what happened to make her feel such guilty and why she is president of that hotel and the mystery of the tree is yet to be unfold. It’s only first episode but many hints have been given, it wouldn’t be interesting if the main plot of the story is revealed within 1st two episodes.
Also your other questions about money, loan will be answered in the second episode. It’s really interesting and engaging to watch. The more the story unfolds, more you get involved in it. I hope you don’t jump into conclusions yet and watch it first

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Yes, it should be Del Luna, but who knows, maybe it’s intentional. Like the Hangul name of Innocent Man was purposely written with spelling error to be true to the way the female protagonist had trouble spelling Hangul and wrote the phrase wrong in her diary.

The gist I get is that the old owner picked her as a successor.

The hotel is very real. It’s a registered business (as they will show in ep2). So there are real life expenses like property tax and utilities. Also our pretty owner is a hefty spender. Maybe she can change her appearance (though it seems like she actually shops her clothes) but she can’t drive fake cars and eat fake food so she still uses money. They keep humans from coming by listing ridiculous prices and keeping the hotel off search engines.

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*De La Luna

Damn it. Now they got me writing it wrong🤦🏻‍♀️

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Thanks.
I also thought the old owner picked her just that maybe they would not explain exactly the reason but maybe later.
I still don't get how it could be so hard to find if it's that big and why she is not rich.

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The hotel is actually not big at all. It transforms at night for the dead to see. The kid’s father was having an outofbody experience so maybe that’s how he saw the hotel like a ghost. Also, if she didn’t want the kid’s father to find it, I’m sure she can do some illusion to hide the entrance to mortals.

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How is she not rich? I think she was at one point because she certainly acts that way, loaded. There seems to be a character that contributed to the hotel’s financial crisis, whom she got furious by mere mentioning of the name. Maybe we’ll find out later why she’s in so much debt.

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She is rich but don’t have that much as she only gets monetary help and valuable things like diamonds in return of helping the souls or ghosts like how she got diamonds after helping dead female police officer to take revenge like for her. She isn’t dead just existing as her time has stopped for a long time but she has some powers developed which reason might be revealed later.
Her hotel’s food, materials, expenses all are bought from real world with money as well as her spending habits is too much and she has many luxurious cars on loan so she had financial crisis before and still has to pay for tax, loan of cars, her expensive champagne and designer dresses. Also the hotel is only based on what ghosts gives them in return for their work so it always doesn’t seem to work and she has debts

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The script is originally written as the initial plan for Master's Sun (they have explained this multiple times)

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Ms. Lixie, since the moon in Spanish is feminine, it should be "Hotel de la Luna". At this moment I take it as a creative license and just hope the show is as good as "Master's Sun".

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Yes, that is why I asked, why not call it de la luna and make it less weird for anyone who understands a little spanish.

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Because Del La Luna is the name of a real hotel, they couldn't buy the right to use the name for a spooky hotel them

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Well they could have stuck to the original Han name 滿月客店, lol

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There was a brief close-up of a jewel on the side of the rifle and it looked a lot like the eyes of the snake. So, multi-purpose snake? I think it is officially Significant and we will be seeing more of it.

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The jewel has the same “Circle with a curved slash through it” symbol as the pin that General Manager No had on. Seems to be the insignia of the hotel?

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I dont know but this the first time where I think so far the person introduced to ghosts (chan sung) is still like appropriately scared like i enjoy that he wasn't that afraid of man wol (as in screaming wtf). I appreciate dramas like these more when the characters are actually using some common sense and decently smart enough to figure some stuff out at the very least.

But i do feel that that one chase sequence of chan sung and the ghost seem apt but also inconsistent because it just feels so out there considering his reaction to other scary things.

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Show seems to be going out of its way to showcase IU, in as many different costumes as possible. I assume that she is a huge draw now, especially after My Mister, and they decided to run with it. Wouldn't be surprised if the script was tweaked to make the female more prominent after she was cast.

Her badassery and calm determination here remind me of her Ji-an role, except this time she gets ALL the fancy clothes.

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It’s very Hong Sisters, the whole wardrobe play. If you’ve seen Huayugi, you’ll know.

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If this was the early concept for Master's Sun, which I just read, then it seems possible the Man Wol character was originally a man and the Chang character was a woman.

Okay well this is a loooong stretch but I wonder if the mistranslation might be due to a switch. The girl in Masters Sun was the sun, by name and symbolically. And Hotel del Sol would be correct it they kept that and the gender for the original concept. Someone then, when they changed genders, and thus to moon from sun, sloppily just replaced sol with luna without changing the article?

Sorry off on a tangent!

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This is the theory that makes the most sense out of any of them I have heard tbh (besides the simple “The people on this drama know absolutely nothing about Spanish and just put words together”). Bravo!

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@lordcobol
IU's wardrobe is a function of trying to make her small frame read in wide shots...and not be swallowed by the settings (particularly the CGI).

I would love this to be part of her character but to date her wardrobe doesn't seem grounded in the story. (Compare that to Sa-Ra from the Beauty Inside. Her wardrobe and earrings in particular were a masterclass - all about the power and fragility of her position)

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I don't think the script was tweaked. Jun Ji Hyun was the first actor who was offered the lead in this project and there was no mention of any prominent male actor being up for a lead role at that point. After Jun Ji Hyun passed then IU made the headlines for being attached to the drama. The female lead I think was always meant to be more prominent.

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I’m loving it. Yeo Jin Goo finally back in a real comedic role after Potato Star. So adorkable. I know eventually he’ll start chopping onions so I will enjoy the Scooby-Doo act while it lasts.

IU is slaying it of course. It’s practically written for her.

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I wonder who else they tried to cast for this role? It is certainly written for the lead actress to show the full range of her acting chops from micro motions of the facial muscles to full scale action heroics ... and the finest detail of her skin with every imperfection enlarged to “boulders” on those close ups zooming in on the eye!

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Haven’t heard who was considered. Unlike KES throws names out before casting to lure investors and drops names of everyone who turned her down after the drama draws success (to say how they lucked out), Hong Sisters have been very direct with their casting news. We only hear of the endgame.

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I'm also wondering too. Who do you think can also fit the role?

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Jeon Ji Hyun was offered first, whom I think would fit the role right off the bat from the very first scene. It's of my personal view where I think the role requires an actress with a much more mature vibe and gravitas to convincingly deliver the role. But she rejected the offer.

I also think Kim Min Jung would've slayed the role as well since I can see how Man Wol resembles Kudo Hina (of Mr Sunshine) a lot. Kim Min Jung can definitely bring in the A game in portraying the role who seems to be so mysterious and having hidden pain, but masking it with so well with her commanding confidence and elegance.

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director said IU was the only person he approached. the director said at the press conference that had IU not accepted they wouldn't go through with it. He cast YJG because they had worked together when he was young and the director thought he'd suit the role. The director said that only one copy of script was sent out and that was to IU. Early rumours had JJH but that was not going to happen because she's on hiatus . The people working on the costume are IU's very own staff.

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It was not a rumour because JJH side acknowledged that she did receive an offer for a HongSis drama scheduled for 2019 airing, among many other offers she received. At that time, the drama was yet to be titled and a director was not officially attached to it yet. And seeing how the role came out, it is very well understood why HongSis tried to court JJH for it.

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I find the Hong Sisters usually write their full script to fit the actors after they sign on. (And that’s why their endings suck because they don’t have a full idea how they want it to end) Just because JJH received an offer doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for the same story.

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@geliguolu It's hardly possible for them to plan and write more than one drama to be released in the same year. By approaching JJH for their drama first with no news on the male lead candidate, it suggested that the drama will be more focused on the female lead and that is what this drama is about. The broadcast channel info matches as well, all the more suggesting that the drama is indeed the same drama.

Hong Sisters often 'throw names' for their casting as well - Jun Ji Hyun was originally courted for My GF is a Gumiho, Kim Woo Bin was originally courted for Warm and Cozy (which later the offer went to Rain and eventually to Yoo Yeon Seok), Park Bo Gum was originally courted for Hwayugi, among a few other examples.

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“He wonders if that implies that she’ll die one day, and she jokingly asks if he’ll kill her. Chan-sung only wishes for Man-wol to disappear from his life.”

A bit of foreshadowing? The dramatic climax to come near the end of the drama? Hmmm... does this sound familiar?

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Sounds like Hwayugi to me HAHA

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Also Goblin... like both dramas, this drama also has an Important Sword; it is stuck in the heart of the tree representing Jang Man-wol’s life.

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I loved this opening episode. It took me back to my childhood when I used to dream of being an agent with Men In Black, or getting that letter from Hogwarts, or being swept away in (less cruel but) similarly magical worlds of Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Totoro, Natsume Yuujinchou.

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The look and sound of the drama is fantastic. IU looks amazing, and I'm buying her as a bitchy, cold, yet probably lonely and sad, whatever she is. (Goblin?) But, for some reason I'm not sucked into the story, and I find myself analyzing the look, dialogue, and acting rather than letting it take me for a ride.

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Agreed. IU is trying to sell her character and I so want to buy it.

However there is not a lot for her to work with as that bitchy, coldness requires banter to bite. Instead of giving her "to and fro" for her to react to, at the moment the drama is jumping between set pieces. Hence, its like her cool delivery is stuck in a vacuum.

Hopefully the story will settle into its rhythm.

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The Hong sisters always start off strong, but those endings of late have left me very wary.

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For a man with a degree from Harvard, Chan sung really is a idiot. Yeah, a debt is just forgotten about because you delayed to pay for a year.

And the fact that he chose to stay with a man who sold him to save his own hide and to give him the advice of running and never setting up roots because said man all but destroyed his life. Yeah. Idiot.

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That man was his father.

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And where exactly was a kid that young supposed to go? And honestly, that story sounds wack-a-doo, so you probably wouldn't really believe it. And he was young. And it was his dad. So, yeah.

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And when adulthood came around.

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Yea, even during his interview he said it was his late father’s superstition and he’s just keeping his promise to not return to Korea for 20 years. If he did believe him, he wouldn’t return to Korea ever.

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Getting a young child all the way through a Harvard MBA program sounds like acceptable parenting to me? We don’t know when the father had to part ways from the son, but it looked to be reasonably late.

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@hebang
It is arguable that Man-Wol put her property through Harvard.

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@SadKDramaLama

JMW put up money , but the day to day care of a young child into adulthood was the father.

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With all due respect, that man was his father who narrowly escaped death, a father whom he loved dearly as was shown and he was a filial child that even the father knew he didnt deserve. For all he knew, that was just some dream he had while injured.

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What's more, the father clearly says something like, "but my son will be left all alone if I die". I think that train of thought played a role as well, in his decision to strike that deal with Man-wol.

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yes, he wanted to stay alive to raise his son.

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@kdkpalways
Thats kind of funny if you add the next point in the line of events.

...he wanted to stay alive to raise his son...to deliver him into the slavery he sold him into.

Once he sold his son, in this story he didn't need to be alive for his son to thrive. Man Wol paid to ensure her "investment" would be safe. She would have done that even if he was an orphan.

If that is the case, the fathers extended life was primarily for the father's benefit. The rationale that it was all for the son only holds if there was no support from MW...but we have seen where they already were in SK society and their chances of survival alone were slim.

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@sadkdramalama As I recall, Man-Wol made no investment until after the fact. He had no clue about her investment (neither did she know she will get the diamonds to invest) when he agreed to stay alive and raise his son for 20 more years. His choices were for his son to suffer immediately or suffer 20 years later. Most parents will choose the later.

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@geliguolu
Apologies, if in trying to avoid tl:dr people missed that I did outline the issue of him not knowing of the payment and returning to his previous life.

I had to re-read to check but I never stated the father knew. That means he also did not know that their life would stop the downward spiral it was already on...one that has already lead to his actual death. All we do know is that he would sell his child...we don't know for how little.

The value judgement the he would limit his son's suffering because he was around only negates the other reading if his son wasn't already suffering. We are yet to learn the full story of the father's situation or if there are other family, all that we know is it got to a point where he actually died.

I guess I am concern on the bending this to a parent must do what ever for their children because that may not be the case here and to me the story is yet to support it. At its heart, it also negates that the counterfactual has any merit or those who lose their parents can succeed in life. To me, that is a fallacy and too brutal.

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Sorry... I read this thrice and can’t understand your point.

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His father didn't ruin his life. He didn't want to leave his son without a father. Also, the fact that he's a single dad. Chan Sung was a child, do you really think he'd be running away from his only family.

This is fantasy, the logic of thinking he could avoid the contract is the same as any 'fairytale'. Plus, I don't really see any other solution if Man Wol is going to collect him no matter what.

He's not an idiot. At least the time he spent away, he educated himself. Just because (for now) we see him as 'scaredy cat' doesn't actually make him weak. He's being introduced to a world he's never known before.

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I totally agree, what could he have done, died and left a 10 yr old alone in the world?? He made the right choice and to be honest he thought it was a dream. Remember when he left the hospital and saw the police woman’s funeral picture. He said , I thought it was a dream, then when he saw the money in his account he wanted to return it but could not find the hotel.

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I liked, but I find it so similar to the anime xxx Holic, like the clothes, her love for wine and personality of the characters, the major difference is that the anime was in a shop and the drama is In a hotel.

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Yes!! I was about to point it out! with a little bit of Goblin. like xxxholic she exists because of the hotel. Chan Sung is the exact opposite with Watanuki but same character i.e. kind hearted.

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I am loving this trend off late in drama verse with alpha female heroines being paired with beta male heroes. All 3 ladies in WWW, Veronica Park in SOS, Yeon Seo in ALML and now Man Wol in Hotel Del Luna. I dont think Yeo Jin Goo is supposed to outshine IU here. He is the polar opposite of her with a inherent goodness to him. It balances the pair out. I like the richness of the world. I like the saturated colors, it adds to the mythological theme. Cant wait, definitely a strong start. And when you take into account that this was rushed into premiering because Arthdal is taking more time to roll out season 3, I respect everybody involved even more. Must have been intense hard work. I hope and pray that it delivers till the very end.

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Don't forget Hoo-ja in My Fellow Citizens. Not exactly "heroine", but plenty "alpha".

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I'm missing the alphas! Really, they're the reason I secretly (I'm a feminist) watch international dramas I think, cause alpha leads in North American shows never are alpha when it comes to romance anymore. Ah well, I guess I can give up on my slightly masochistic tendencies to further the alpha female agenda (though don't get me wrong, I prefer an alpha female lead to a beta as well).

Sigh. I'm getting old and it shows!

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I add Big Issue to your list, with bad ass smart alpha female heroine

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loved the premiere! IU and YJG are doing well and i'm looking forward to where the show will take us, the cinematography is so beautiful, i got goosebumps when the Hotel unravelled for the first time

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I love the look of this drama and IU is doing a great job, but I have the same reservations with this drama as I had with Hwayugi. Style over substance. Somehow soulless despite the cast's best efforts. I am really having a hard time envisioning a romance between the two leads, perhaps cause IU character is reminding me of Monkey. I hope I am proved wrong!

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Now I would love a showdown between Man-wol and Monkey.

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What a drama that would be. And the fashion PPL RIGHTS WOULD BRING IN A FORTUNE!

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And wouldn't that be a great pairing? Give me alpha male with alpha female over lopsided alpha/beta pairings any day for cracktastic sparks a-flyin' romance.

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My demon monkey (Seung Gi) would kick her butt without breaking a sweat.

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I like it so far. I’m not totally in love yet, but this episode was an enjoyable watch. I hit me a few minutes in that I’m in the mood for fantasy right now.

The only thing I’ve seen IU in is Dream High, so I’m excited to see her in a lead role now. She’s great so far and looks amazing. Her character is something else! Hopefully her backstory and how she ended up where she is will be explained.
I’ve only seen Yeo Jin Goo once as well, in Circle. I’ve been waiting to see him again in another good drama. Hopefully this is it. Him flailing around running from ghosts is a good time.

I was reminded of various things while watching. The CGI and fantasy elements felt like a mixture of Goblin and Disney, and the ghosts are similar to the ones in Master’s Sun.
Also, IU’s demeanor when she was looking out the window and saying she was sick of the moon suddenly reminded me of the character Lady Dedlock in the first few seconds of this trailer for BBC’s adaption of Bleak House (which I have not yet seen): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_9SBBK4KzI&pbjreload=10
I’m tempted to call IU’s character Lady Jang from now on.

I’m also liking the soundtrack, particularly the use of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

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I love IU. She is slaying her role and is so badass. I can imagine how much fun she must be having playing it too. Oh and her outfits! Gorgeous. Did I mention I love IU? She’s amazing.

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interesting start! the hotel reminds me a little of the Grand Budapest Hotel in some ways, though of course a lot of the aesthetics are starkly different. i would LOVE to check out that swimming pool IRL 🤩

the first bit was a little slow; it felt like Man-wol was channeling My Mister's Ji-an a little in the initial scenes, so it was interesting too to see her transition to the modern day hotelier that she is. i like how they set up the story of how Chan-sung came to be "under her beck", as Man-wol also put it. looking forward to seeing how things progress in the next ep!

check out KDL for the locations we've found so far (more to come)! also, here's the meaning of the evening primrose flower :)

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I was about to say the same thing 😄 but hold myself not to saying it. The aesthetic does feel like watching WA movie. Honestly I don't really understand the plot, at this point I only watch it for the picture.

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one of my colleagues just said it's like the female version of Goblin haha 😅 don't know if it's a good comparison but there definitely seems to be fancier aesthetics and CG in this one!

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It's kinda apt. I can see it. I'm just grateful that YJG character is not minor 😄

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Oh man ! As soon as I saw the quiet lady wearing sunglasses in the middle of the night, waiting for taxi, I knew to close my eyes or to cover half of my screen. But I should have known to do the same while reading this recap. You got me ! 😁

Anyway, thanks for the recap!
I'm not into the main lead yet. But IU's character has me intrigued so far.

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This episode was really all set-up, but I enjoyed it. I don't have strong feelings about it yet, but I'm interested to see where it goes. I like IU's character (her style is fantastic) and the setting is fun. I hope we get a little more substance in episodes to come.

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Yeo Jin Goo. he makes me laugh here. So much better than his char in My absolutely Boyfriend. At least, in here his character make him do hillarious think. Lol... IU and YJG acting chemistry is off the charts imo. They light up the screen everytime they are on screen together. Their char personality makes them look enjoyable together.that's recent hongs sister leading pairing is lacking for me. Rom com is do or die in their on screen chemistry. Because at times, chemistry between thr main cast is the core of the story in a rom com or fluffy drama.

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I'm not really feeling any chemistry yet though I like him and love her (she's my favorite k-actress). I'm having a hard time seeing how a romance will even get started between them. But the romantic potential is definitely there, I agree, and perhaps you're just picking up on it earlier than me. I hope so, because I like the style and premise of this a lot, and a hot romance at the centre might restore my faith in K drama romance, which has been fading of late.

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I don't think their chemistry will be passionately hot. But just from the first episode, I already can see the spark which makes viewers can glued to the acreen just watching them. It's help they feels comfortable acting with each other. Which I found getting rare nowadays between the OTP. Either they don't match or they are not invested in each other company.
the attraction from IU's character is there also the end of this episode.

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I don’t feel romantic chemistry yet. Well it’s hard because one is trying to freak out the other and one is trying to run away from the other. But I do see obvious sparks in their argumentative conversations. Also they are having a blast bts.

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I really liked both the first episodes, and I'm always up for more IU since My Ajusshi. I actually tried going back and watching some of her earlier series and they just didn't grip me the same way.

Like most I'm hit or miss for Hong Sister dramas, but this one is certainly off to a good start. The visuals were great, and I like the vibe all the characters are giving off. Can't wait to see IU being all cocky and looking fabulous in various outfits. Excited for next week!

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The first episode was promising! I'm really curious about Man Wol's past. The hotel didn't have an owner anymore, it means she can get away if she finds how?

I like the mix between humor and creepy things.

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The story reminded me the song Hijo de la luna by Mecano. The Moon accept to help a woman to find love but in exchange she wants her first born child.

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And Rapunzel. And Rumpelstiltskin. First born children were the trade in those tales. I wonder if it's a folklore trope across cultures.

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Yeah too. Poor babies!

But I think it's her name Full Moon that made me think about the song. It ends up more tragic than the stories.

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Just listened to it. Beautiful, tragic.

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Rumpelstiltskin! That’s the story that I’ve been scratching my head to remember! I was actually reminded of this story first, not Beauty and the Beast.

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I love that song and haven't thought of it in ages (and I never knew what it was about!). Thanks for reminding me.

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You're welcome! I like the lyrics: when the baby is happy, the moon is full and when he cries, she decreases to make him a cradle.

It's an old song now...

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I know, we are showing our age here. 😅

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???

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We’ll need to develop a color code. See if it holds true.

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this is fun and kooky... for me, the look of the hotel reminds me of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and maybe the kooky flavor of the story... but probably mostly because of IU's wardrobe. it evokes that 1930s look...

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Looks like i'm the only odd one here. I decided to check out the drama due to its strong premiere ratings and also I'm a Hong Sisters fan. But IU's acting just turned me off. I find her acting awkward and self-conscious, came across as a bit of a tryhard to act all badass and cool. And she just doesn't have the actress' charisma to command a screen presence. Not a hater, just my honest thoughts. YJG was phenomenal as a sageuk child actor, but I feel that he's now in that awkward transition phase where he's still finding his feet in an adult modern role. The two didn't have much chemistry at all. I could barely finish Ep1 and didn't feel like watching Ep2 (The last Korean drama that i dropped after Ep1 was Boys Over Flowers). Feeling a bit upset now - i'd really wanted to like this show :(

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Why don't you just wait a while and see what the consensus is? None of us know if it will be good and we've got various reactions to the first episodes. I didn't like the first two episodes of Healer but everyone seemed to live it so I tried again later and it became my favorite show. I didn't like Goblin, tried again and never did like it. Maybe what huge you about IU will settle down, maybe not, but if everyone starts r aging about how good it is by episode ten, you might want to give it another shot.

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I totally agree with you. Her acting to me is very shallow she's going through all the proper facial expressions etc. but I don't feel it. An older more seasoned actress could've just slammed this down. I can't take IU seriously as a badass or anything else. I'm not a fan of YJG. He just doesn't do anything for me and agreed there is zero chemistry. To imagine how this could've been with different leads is.... Imagine Seo In Guk as the male lead and Son Ye Jin as the female lead. That would've been so sexy.

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I loved cinematography, visually this show is very appealing, ManWol character fits IU like a glove, Yeo JinGu was the weakest link so far, he's not that good in comedy. Nice introductory episode overall.

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Can we talk about these outfit changes that IU has got going on!? I'm so jealous of this wardrobe. I need that stylist in my life ASAP XD

I'm LOVING this show so far! Can't wait to see more !

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After My Ajusshi, Lee Ji-eun's acting has improved so much and I really enjoy watching her on screen now.
I want to feel more depth from the drama, but Hong sisters' works I've watched so far are more about entertainment than substance in my book. They make me wonder what happens next, more than provide something new to ponder about. There's nothing wrong with that of course. I hope there will be more, but I don't have high expectation and just enjoy the ride for what it is.

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I love Love LOVE the vibes in this drama so far! With the music and aesthetics, it somewhat reminds me of Harry Potter + whimsy witch vibes. Personally, I kind of found IU's acting a little bit awkward and I can't believe I'm saying this, but also Yeo Jingoo's acting, but that didn't stop me from absolutely loving the two episodes so far. Come on weekend!! Where are you?!

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does anyone know what IU is (human, ghost.....witch? lmao) it seems like in the beginning of the drama, she's a human and becomes owner of the hotel? but she's obviously not human now...or maybe a special form of human soul hybrid?

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Lol, they created Jang Manwol's instagram, with her food pictures and all:

https://www.instagram.com/fullmoon.long/

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Thank you for this. It reminds me of how the Lizzie Bennet Diaries had their character interact with our world offscreen.

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It was just okay for me. I am not into either lead so I'm kinda struggling there. While IU is really pretty (and they are definitely spending a lot of screen time on that) I don't think she was the best choice as a believable warrior, punish-er, and all around frightening persona. I think there are older more seasoned actresses that could be much more believable and terrifying. Both leads acting is very on the surface for me and I'm just not feeling it. I love paranormals but the two episodes were almost kind of boring for me. I might be dropping this. In my head I'll keep fantasizing that the leads were Seo In Guk and Son Yi Jin.

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This is my cup of tea! I am taking a deep breath and doing a live watch of this one. It will be my first. I look forward to sharing this experience with everyone here.
And oh wow, Oh Ji-ho (Chan-sung's father) sold the show for me; oddly, it was his character that let me immearse myself and feel invested in this drama.
Thank you for the recaps, dramallama.

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This is my first live watch too!!

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Thanks for the recap...the first two episodes has my attention, I'm looking forward to watching this show... This year I have dropped too many shows (put them on hold for awhile) so I'm hopeful with this one:-)

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I'm enjoying this drama so far! The plot is very intriguing and I'm getting so curious about Man Wol's past and how Chan Seong might possibly be connected with it. I'm also excited to find out the reason why Man Wol was chosen to be the owner of the hotel and how and why it came to existence in the first place. Also looking forward to the side stories of the hotel employees, as well as the ghosts who would come to the hotel.

The visuals in this drama are just breathtaking! The colors, cinematography, and CGI are very pleasing to look at. Also, I just loooove Jang Man Wol's outfit. She looks very stunning in them. I'm also loving the musical scoring so far. The OSTs are already giving me the feels.

All in all, I'm really excited to see how this story unfolds. I'm hoping it can retain my interest throughout the drama. If they keep this pacing and reveal the plot points in perfect timing, I'm pretty sure it will!

P.S. the part where Chan Seong's father got caught stealing the flower and Jang Man Wol asking his son in exchange for his life is giving me major Beauty & the Beast feels!!

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Doesn't she look like an actress out of the golden age of hollywood?! We just don't see such beautiful clothes in a modern setting like this. It is sumptuous.
Also, does your name refer to "30 but 17"?

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YES! I'm living for her beautiful outfits! 😍

and yuppp!! 30 but 17 is one of my faves!

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I have come from watching the second episode. I enjoyed it and felt it hit my heart sincerely. It was a different feel from that of just being entertained in the first one. And it gives us more insight into characters.
Did anyone else tear up during the goodbye scene with Man-Wol and the manager. I am going to miss the actor because he lent such gravitas to the part.
Also, I respond to the idea that the dead have another chance to be healed and settle their accounts. It is quite hopeful, isn't? I think I am most eager to see their stories in the upcoming episodes.
I am a sucker for the tales of good being rewarded and evil punished.

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Does anyone know where IU got the black dress with gold design on it? I have searched high and low on the internet, but I cannot find a replica of it or anything similar to it. Bummer because I would LOVE to purchase that dress

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I'm enjoying this drama so far. I read in some article that the director wanted IU in a different, luxurious outfit frequently (daily?) and they have certainly done that. She's looking and acting great!

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Someone knows ? Why DEL LUNA? ¿ DEL ? spanish grammar should be scared
(according to drama style)

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rip sic 180719

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So, How are you enjoying your stay at the Guest House of the Moon?

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its a secret

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There's something about IU the actor this time around... It feels like she's in full command of her performance. People were surprised by her in 'My Ajusshi' because, frankly, she has a past record of being hit-and-miss acting-wise. We do have to bear in mind, though, that early IU was also VERY YOUNG IU. She's now the ripe old age of 26.

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