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Hotel del Luna: Episode 2

The more he learns about the job he’s expected to perform at the Hotel del Luna, the harder our scaredy-cat hotelier tries to get out of his obligation, to no avail. His protests fall on deaf ears, so he goes along on a job that seems as dangerous as it is unbelievable. But he learns along the way that not everything is as it seems, especially when it comes to his new boss.

  
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Chan-sung tries to help Man-wol, who’s been stabbed with sharpened rod by the indigent former mayor she once cursed. But she stands and pulls the rod out, then sends it flying through the air to pierce the former mayor. It kills him instantly, and his body turns to dust.

Man-wol turns to Chan-sung and tells him that he gave up his one chance to run, “If you run away now, I’ll kill you.” Chan-sung goes looking for the body of the man she killed, but all he finds is the metal rod and a pile of dust. A hand reaches out of the dust and grabs his shoe, making Chan-sung leap backwards, then the hand crumbles.

Chan-sung reminds Man-wol that he said ghosts can’t hurt him, so she amends that the spirits of those with grudges can kill. He argues that he gets too scared to tell the difference, but she tells him not to be scared when she’s nearby.

HAHA, the big chicken asks Man-wol sheepishly to get his shoe out of the ash pile, and she offers to do it if he calls her “Boss,” but he repeats that he has no intention of working at her hotel. Man-wol saunters off, and Chan-sung has to get his shoe himself.

He asks if it’s dangerous to leave the ash, but she says it will be collected by the Grim Reaper. She looks mildly disgusted to see Chan-sung putting his shoe back on, freaking him out all over again, and she tells him she’ll buy him a new pair.

Man-wol takes Chan-sung shoe shopping, telling him never to wear brown shoes again, and he correctly guesses that’s the real reason she told him to throw his shoes out, ha. He doesn’t like any of the shoes Man-wol picks, but the store is about to close, so he’s forced to buy what she chooses.

Man-wol tells him to start working tomorrow since she bought him shoes, and he asks what exactly she wants him to do at her hotel. Man-wol says ominously, “You’ll console the ones who closed the doors [to their lives] with frustration. Death.”

Elsewhere, a car flips in a tunnel, killing the driver. His soul stares at his body, until a man in black puts him in a car with a license plate that says “TO HEAVEN.” The car takes the soul away, driving right through the other cars and people in the tunnel.

Mago, the deity who helped Man-wol find the Hotel del Luna, leaves a white lily beside the man’s body and wishes him safe passage across the Sanju River. We see a long, narrow bridge spanning a river engulfed in mist with hundreds of souls walking across, all holding white lilies.

Man-wol tells Chan-sung that most people cross the bridge over the Sanju River when their lives end, and go to another world. But she says that some souls get lost and end up as ghosts, stuck on Earth. She says that these lost souls are her hotel guests, and that Chan-sung will be safe as long as he stays by her side.

She tells him to be at work tomorrow and to wear his new shoes. Chan-sung asks if she’s one of the ones hanging around after the door is shut – he knows she’s not a normal human, and that she said vengeful ghosts can kill. Since she’s threatened to kill him, does that make her a vengeful ghost?

Man-wol says that the one next to his is probably a vengeful ghost, and Chan-sung jumps to see the eyeless ghost just inches away. Man-wol snickers that that shut him up, but what Chan-sung said about her being a vengeful ghost seems to bother her on the ride back to the hotel.

A mother and her young daughter feed some kittens in the street, and the little girl follows a growling shadow through an alley and into a park. She smiles at the enormous tiger that approaches her, but when her mother finds her, there’s only a tiger-shaped shadow slinking away.

Man-wol and Manager Noh stand in front of the ancient tree in the hotel, and Man-wol wonders if it’s dead, since it hasn’t grown leaves or flowers in over a thousand years. Manager Noh says that it must be alive since Man-wol calls it her “second self,” and she asks if that means she’s alive.

She suddenly senses that a very special guest has arrived and waits at the hotel gate. The tiger spirit passes by with only a short glance at her. Receptionist Hyun-joong also sees the tiger, and Man-wol says it’s dangerous for the soul of a sacred animal to be wandering around.

She snaps at Hyun-joong for not sensing the tiger and welcoming it to the hotel, but he says that in his sixty years here, he’s never seen a tiger as a guest. She tells him to do better at his job because there are plenty of souls hoping to work at Hotel del Luna.

Chan-sung sits at his friend’s house pouting, depressed because the eyeless ghost followed him and is sitting just outside. He worries that he was too mean, calling Man-wol a vengeful ghost, and his mumbling attracts the ghost and he finds her sitting right beside him.

He decides to show up at the Hotel del Luna in the morning, and he’s dismayed when it matches his father’s description exactly, though it’s also much smaller than he expected. He goes inside, where the place seems deserted — until Hyun-joong pops up from behind the counter and Chan-sung nearly jumps out of his shoes again.

Unaware of who he is, Hyun-joong shows Chan-sung the room rates, which are purposely high to discourage the living from trying to stay there. Chan-sung tells Hyun-joong who he is, clarifying that this does not mean he’s taking the job, he just wants to talk to Man-wol.

Hyun-joong takes Chan-sung in the creepy elevator to another floor. It seems equally deserted, and Hyun-joong explains that most of their ghostly guests sleep during the day. Manager Noh pops up out of nowhere to take Chan-sung to see Man-wol. On the way, Chan-sung touches Manager Noh to see if he’s a ghost, and Manager Noh says that he’s as human as Chan-sung.

In Man-wol’s office, Chan-sung gapes at the hundreds of years’ worth of paintings and photos of her, giving him a good idea of how long she’s lived. Manager Noh tells him that he’s worked here for thirty years, and that Chan-sung will be taking over his job. Chan-sung doesn’t like the thought of being stuck here for decades.

Man-wol enters, and the first thing she notices is that he’s not wearing his new shoes. He says they’re too flashy for his real job, which he’s headed to after speaking with her. Man-wol mentions the eyeless ghost, and tells Chan-sung to his horror that once a ghost forms a connection with someone, that connection lasts forever.

Chan-sung repeats that he has no desire to see ghosts, but Man-wol says that he must, since they’re his guests from now on. He says that he couldn’t find anything online about Hotel del Luna, but Man-wol shows him that it’s legally registered with the city. Chan-sung asks if they perform exorcisms, but Man-wol says the ghosts come here for healing.

As Chan-sung and Man-wol stand at an impasse, we move to another part of the hotel, where guest manager Seo-hee serves mountains of food to a ghost who can’t seem to eat fast enough. She delivers firewood to a ghost who froze to death, then recommends books to a grandmotherly ghost who wishes to read every book in the huge library.

In voiceover, Man-wol says that Hotel del Luna helps ghosts fulfill the wishes they couldn’t in life. She tells Chan-sung that ghosts deserve to leave this world without regrets, and that he’s here to do the managerial things that only humans can do.

Chan-sung gives her a bankbook to an account containing every penny that she paid his father for him, plus interest. She takes the money, letting him think that he’s bought his freedom, and cheerfully allows him to leave.

In the elevator, Chan-sung hears a small voice and he freezes. He turns to see a little girl floating near the ceiling, and he barely holds in his alarm as he pounds on the “door open” button.

A minute later, he comes screaming back into Man-wol’s office (literally, LOL), demanding to know why he’s still seeing ghosts after paying her back. She says calmly that his ability was a birthday gift, and when he asks how he’s supposed to live a normal life seeing ghosts, Man-wol says that he has no choice but to work at the hotel.

He follows her out, but only (he says) so they can keep talking about this, sticking so close to Man-wol that she may as well be piggybacking him. Bartender Kim tells Manager Noh that he’s worried that the new manager seems weak, but Manager Noh counters that Chan-sung looks courageous to him.

Manager Noh says that when he first started, he was more scared of Man-wol than the ghosts, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Chan-sung. Bartender Kim says that’s only because he doesn’t know why Man-wol runs the hotel, and that she’s scarier than any of the ghosts here.

Man-wol leads Chan-sung to a garage full of expensive cars and chooses a red convertible. Chan-sung asks if comforting the the dead is a lucrative business, and Man-wol gloats that he seems to like fancy things.

When he asks where they’re going, Man-wol tells Chan-sung that they’re going to catch a tiger. They wind up at a museum, looking at the stuffed skin of the last captive tiger in Korea, and Man-wol grows pensive at the thought that it’s dead, but made to look alive. Her mood reminds Chan-sung of her telling him that she’s not dead, she’s just here.

A sick man lies in bed, and he sees a tiger pacing around his bedroom. The tiger roars and pounces, but disappears in midair, and the man tells his assistant that he had that dream again.

Over lunch, Chan-sung tells Man-wol that the chairman of his hotel received the Baekdu tiger as a gift from North Korea, and brought it to their country. He asks why they’re in a restaurant instead of looking for the tiger, and Man-wol says that she wanted to eat here since it was featured on that drama she likes. She challenges Chan-sung to eat five rice cakes in one bite like the hero of the show, but Chan-sung wails that he needs to get to work and doesn’t have time for this.

He orders her to fix his eyes right now, but instead she says that a tiger once told a rice cake vendor that a rice cake would save his life, but the seller gave it away, so the tiger ate him. Man-wol tells Chan-sung to bring the eyeless ghost to the hotel so she can send her on her way.

The frozen ghost is finally thawed and is sent to the Sanju River by Manager Noh, Seo-hee, and the GRIM REAPER (Kang Hong-seok). Manager Noh tells Reaper that he’s retiring soon and is planning a lot of fishing trips, but Reaper informs him that he doesn’t have that much time. Manager Noh takes the news graciously, simply saying that he needs to get things in order.

Man-wol and Chan-sung end up at a cafe, where Chan-sung continues to assert that he will not be working at Hotel del Luna. Man-wol isn’t impressed by his Harvard MBA or the fancy hotel he’s been hired at, and she tells him that now that he can see ghosts, the only jobs he’s suited for are managing her hotel, or a shaman.

Chan-sung says he can just ignore the ghosts, so Man-wol gives him a test. She pinches the flame on the candle on their table, which turns black and becomes a cloud of particles. She challenges Chan-sung to get her coffee and return without spilling a drop.

Chan-sung quickly realizes that the entire restaurant is filled with ghosts, all staring at him. He walks carefully back to the table, coming perilously close to spilling the coffee every time a ghost rushes him. To Man-wol’s annoyance, he somehow passes the test, but she snaps that he can’t expect to work at a fancy hotel when he can barely carry a cup of coffee.

Back at Hotel del Luna, the other employees ask Manager Noh if he’s retiring as soon as Chan-sung begins work. He only says that he’d hoped to see them all move on to the afterlife. Man-wol storms in angrily and asks Bartender Kim if a Harvard MBA is as impressive as his passing the state exam during his time.

He says it’s not, and Chan-sung confirms the others’ background in life (Seo-hee was rich, while Hyun-joong attended the best school of his time). She yells that they were all better off in life than Chan-sung, who thinks he’s such a hotshot.

Manager Noh asks when Chan-sung will start work, as he needs to check himself into the hospital. She tells him that Chan-sung thinks he can get along just fine despite seeing ghosts, so she’s giving him a few days before he cracks. She curtly gives Manager Noh permission to go, and Bartender Kim grumbles that after all Manager Noh’s years of service, she might have shown a little concern.

Chan-sung finally makes it to his new hotel job, and he shrieks loudly the first time a ghost surprises him. He reminds himself to ignore it, but he has a harder time ignoring the eyeless ghost when she shows up in the pool area. His new boss wants to introduce him to some VIP guests, but if Chan-sung speaks, the eyeless ghost will locate him, so he does the only thing he can do — he flings himself into the pool.

As he’s drying off, Man-wol arrives and asks why he didn’t just ignore the ghost. Chan-sung says that he’ll stay at her hotel as a guest to get used to ignoring ghosts, but she doubts that he can ignore the tiger spirit. She asks if he’s curious what happened to the Baekdu tiger, and she takes him to the home of the chairman of his hotel.

The chairman (cameo by Nam Kyung-eub) is the same man who dreamed of the tiger spirit, and Chan-sung apologizes for visiting him unannounced while he’s sick. Man-wol wordlessly paces the parlor then lets herself into the chairman’s bedroom, noting an expensive painting of Mount Baekdu on the wall.

She asks in banmal if it’s real, and Chan-sung giggles nervously that she lived abroad and forgets to use honorifics. The chairman tells them that the artwork was a gift from a North Korean artist, along with the Baekdu tiger. He says that the tiger refused to mate and died alone, and behind him, Chan-sung sees the tiger’s shadow on the wall.

Man-wol intones that the tiger never mated because it had no reason to leave anything behind — he’d left anything meaningful behind. The chairman confesses that he keeps seeing the tiger in his dreams, and Man-wol tells him that the one who brought it here should return it.

He says, a little sadly, that the stuffed tiger has become a symbol and it’s not up to him to return it. Suddenly, all the glass in the room explodes, and a loud roar echoes through the air.

At Hotel del Luna, Manager Noh hangs a recent portrait of Man-wol on the wall, and says sadly, “This photo will be the only proof of the time I’ve spent in this life. Will she remember a mere human who’s just passing through here?”

Man-wol leads Chan-sung to another restaurant for sashimi, and Chan-sung asks why Man-wol let the tiger get away. She says she can’t make the tiger come with her unless it wants to, and it’s waiting for the chairman to die. Chan-sung argues that if the tiger is making the chairman ill, then this is a very dangerous situation, so they need to go back.

She agrees that he does need to go back so that he can offer to get rid of the tiger in exchange for the painting of Mount Baekdu. Chan-sung grumbles that she makes all her money extorting people who are being haunted, and Man-wol says it’s in his job description, but Chan-sung refuses to scam people.

He asks if this is how she tricked his father, but Man-wol says she got Chan-sung in exchange for saving his father’s life. She says he’d be dead without her protection, but Chan-sung retorts that Man-wol has tortured him more than the eyeless ghost. He leaves, snapping that he’s going back to his human life now.

Chan-sung sees the eyeless ghost waiting for him outside, but this time he walks right up to her and yells, “Take off your sunglasses if you want. I even saw a tiger. Nothing can scare me now!” She reaches up to take off the glasses, but she changes her mind, and Chan-sung continues on his way.

A little further on, he runs into Manager Noh outside his friend’s place, and the two sit to talk. Chan-sung asks if Man-wol kept Manager Noh at the hotel against his will, but Manager Noh says that he chose to stay. Chan-sung can’t understand how extorting frightened people is a worthy use of time.

Manager Noh explains that the value of money and power are different in the hotel, so he’s never judged Man-wol by human standards. He continues that he knows Chan-sung hates the hotel now, but that if he gathers his courage and faces it, he’ll discover it’s worth.

Chan-sung’s friend comes outside and asks why he’s sitting there alone. Chan-sung says he’s having a conversation, but when he looks again, Manager Noh’s chair is empty. Oh no… Manager Noh appears again, but this time he’s sparkling and ethereal. He tells Chan-sung that this job will show him a secret world, and that it might even be fun.

He disappears and returns to the hotel, this time as a guest. Man-wol joins him at the ancient tree, regretful that keeping him here deprived him of a normal life, but Manager Noh assures her that his life here was very meaningful. He says that his life would have been short if he hadn’t met her, so he was happy to be at Hotel del Luna.

Man-wol says that he has no family to hold memorials for him, but Manager Noh says that during his time here, Man-wol was his sister, his daughter, then his grandchild. She plucks at his sleeve and says that since she can’t die, she can’t promise they’ll meet again, and Manager Noh takes her hands and sincerely wishes that her time begins running again someday.

Bartender Kim, Seo-hee, and Hyun-joong see Manager Noh off to his reward in a limousine, bowing deeply as it drives away. Man-wol stays by the ancient tree, and her eyes well up with tears.

Chan-sung returns to the chairman’s home, and the chairman tells him that Man-wol has already come to speak to him. He says that he’s always felt guilty for trapping the Baekdu tiger’s soul so that it couldn’t return home. He tells Chan-sung that Man-wol took the painting of Mount Baekdu, but that he was willing to give it, and Chan-sung belatedly realizes that the tiger and the painting are connected.

At the same time, Man-wol visits the tiger’s body and summons its soul. She leads it to the painting, telling it that the man who brought it here prepared a place for it to stay. The tiger walks into the painting, which transforms into a real place with its footsteps, and gives one last roar.

On his way home, Chan-sung passes the eyeless ghost again, and this time he’s kinder as he offers to take her where she needs to go. He tells her that he never stopped to wonder why she was following him, and he asks her to check if she can see now that she’s a ghost. She takes off her sunglasses, and Chan-sung smiles — she has eyes again.

The next day, Chan-sung goes to his regular job (wearing his new shoes, awww), where a poster from the museum reminds him of the Baekdu tiger. He texts Man-wol to ask if the tiger returned safely, and to apologize for misunderstanding her intentions.

He stops a little boy from touching a suit of armor on display in the lobby, then hears a strange noise. As he looks at the armor, the empty eyes glow an otherworldly blue, but he tells himself to just ignore it.

That evening, as Chan-sung answers a guest’s question, the suit of armor appears out of thin air. It raises its sword, and Chan-sung recalls Man-wol’s warning that vengeful spirits can kill, so he runs for his life.

The spirit follows him out to the pool, then makes a huge leap and slashes downward with its sword. The shock wave flings Chan-sung through the air, and the spirit keeps attacking as Chan-sung narrowly avoids the deadly blade.

But he soon runs out of energy, and the spirit poises for the killing blow. At the last second, Man-wol appears and shoves the spirit, then stabs it in the throat with her needle-sharp hairstick. The light in its eyes goes dark and Man-wol tosses the armor, which dissolves into black smoke in midair.

She turns to Chan-sung and calmly tells him that the tiger returned to Mount Baekdu, and that she’s here to forgive him. Chan-sung gasps out a breathless thanks, then passes out.

In flashback, we see a much less jaded Man-wol looking up at a large tree. She tells her companion that she envies trees because they can put down roots and don’t have to wander. We don’t hear their voice, but by Man-wol’s responses, her companion had promised to build her a house with the tree — she’d refused, but with a bright smile.

Chan-sung wakes at Hotel del Luna, and this time when Hyun-joong addresses him as “manager,” he gives up on correcting him. Hyun-joong notes that it’s Chan-sung’s first time here at night, and in the main lobby, Chan-sung is astounded to see ghostly employees and guests appear all around him, and he wonders if this is the secret world Manager Noh spoke of.

Man-wol descends the grand staircase, and she catches Chan-sung’s eye. They stare at each other across the lobby, a new understanding between them.

  
COMMENTS

As a long-time fan of the Hong sisters’ dramas, I’m excited to have another of their shows to enjoy, while at the same time, I’m cautious to praise it too much for fear that the show will let me down in the end. The Hong sisters are brilliant at world-building and lore creation, and I always love how interesting and complex their characters are, but the truth is that their shows tend to start out strong but lose their way by the end. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hong sisters drama that I regretted watching (though to be fair, I’ve never seen Big), but I acknowledge the fact that they sometimes don’t seem to know how to wrap up a story that started out strong.

That said, I’ve really enjoyed these first two episodes of Hotel del Luna, which are as strong as you’d expect from these writers. We’re given just enough information about Man-wol and the hotel to make me eager to learn more, and it looks like there are a lot of breadcrumbs to follow as we look into Man-wol’s past. At the very least we know that there was a man who loved her, and whom she probably loved back, but that something went terribly wrong and sent Man-wol on her path of killing and punishment by being cursed to run the hotel. And knowing kdramas as I do, I won’t be one bit surprised if Chan-sung ends up being that man’s reincarnation, especially since the scene underneath the tree appeared to be Chan-sung’s dream.

One of my favorite genres is that of re-imagined fairy tales, and there are a lot of references here to other stories, but I’m mostly getting a strong Beauty and the Beast-with-a-twist vibe. A man stumbles into a mysterious castle/hotel, tries to take a flower as a gift for his child, and the “beast” cursed to live in the castle grants him his freedom in return for that of the child. Hotel del Luna expands on this foundation by adding in the ghosts, which should offer us some fun mini-stories like the eyeless ghost, who seemed terrifying but only wanted someone to help her find her way to the hotel. In fact, if I have one complaint about the show right now, it’s that I want more ghosts! But I understand that there was a lot of groundwork to lay, so I’ll be patient.

I appreciated how the eyeless ghost, and to a larger extent the Baekdu tiger, proved as a lesson in humanity to Chan-sung. He’s a good guy, if a little on the skittish side, but he seems to have a very rigid view of the world and what’s right and wrong. He tends to jump to the worst possible conclusions about Man-wol, such as assuming she wanted the painting as payment for getting rid of the tiger, when in fact she’d recognized that the painting was the tiger’s only way home. Luckily Chan-sung was able to admit that he was wrong and used his new insight to help the eyeless ghost, so I’m looking forward to future lessons that Man-wol and her otherworldly charges have to teach him. And I have to mention how much fun I’m having watching Yeo Jin-gu’s physical comedy, which is a first — he’s really throwing himself into this role, and he makes me laugh out loud whenever he screams and flails at a ghost. More, please!

Speaking of acting, I’ve seen IU in several dramas since Dream High, and I’ve always found her very likable but just serviceable as an actor — not bad, but not amazing. And then My Ajusshi happened, and I don’t know what got into her, but IU’s acting suddenly went from good to special. I was a bit worried when I read the character description of Man-wol, because on paper she seems to have a lot in common with Ji-an, but my fears were unfounded. IU plays Man-wol with the same understated, quiet energy as she did with Ji-an, conveying complex thoughts with just the quirk of an eyebrow or a twist of the lips, but that’s where the similarities end. She’s managed to give Man-wol a very different feel to her, making her cheeky and mischievous one minute, pragmatic the next, then she can flip and she’s suddenly very frightening. Ji-an was dangerous because she had nothing to lose, and Man-wol is dangerous for much the same reason, but she also has this air of weariness and impatience with the world and people and even the souls she serves. She’s been around for too long and she’s seen it all, and it all exhausts her. It’s a lot for an actor to convey, but IU manages it beautifully, and I’m so excited to see what other surprises she’s got in her pocket.

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IU is fantastic! I don't think I can love a heroine more than I loved Ji an, and I wish I could watch her here, but I don't like too have anything to do with spiritism, so called dead people, etc... plus, I don't like the Hong sisters.
But I keep on loving IU. Thank you, @lollypip for your comments on her acting. I really wish her the best.

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Also, only by looking at her pictures, her wardrobe in this drama is absolutely gorgeous. I am not even reading too much, I am only watching the pics😅. Poor Ji an barely had clothes, but here she is like a princess...

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If for nothing else, I will watch this for the parade of the greatest number of and the most elegant fashion and accessories I've seen in a kdrama. I think she changed clothes, hairstyle and accessories more than half a dozen times per episode. I just pause and stare at the beautiful clothes!!!

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Heh! I counted 8 wardrobe changes for MW / IU, in Ep 1 and 6 in Ep 2, from the pics in the Recap!

Show is going to make me feel replete with good food at nice restaurants and great looking clothes!

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Please, at least make captions and send them to me 😅😅😅😍😍😍

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It’s actually 9 or 10 in ep 1 and 8 in ep 2

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@javinne @hebang @trina @bdxpelik @kathia

I managed to screenshot just some of the nice clothes and accessories. Wished so much I could get to see the whole outfit and close up details, but unfortunately not.

Just click on my handle to go to my fan-wall. Hope the pics makes up for your not watching this show @javinne

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I thank you a lot! One of my dreams is to design girls clothes, but if course I couldn't do it, so.... thanks again.

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I hope you can continue to post pics of her outfits! Love them all!!!

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@kathia Well, I'll try to post those that I can actually screenshot nicely. It was more challenging than I expected!!! The camera didn't rest long enough for me to pause the video at the right spot and then it was usually blurred because of movement. I really wanted to get close ups of the accessories, but ... sigh! 😁

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Welcome to my screenshotting pain... either you can't get the shots you really want, or you get too many great shots and are forced to "kill your babies," as GF calls it.

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@lollypip Yes, ... the pain! All the more reason I applaud and appreciate all recappers for their work, and the time + effort in getting all the nice clear screenshots!

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I posted the pics of IU's outfits from ep.2 on my fan wall. They're in good quality. Please check them out ;)

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Which one is your favorite so far?

And, it would be nice if we had a fan page just for the outfits where beanies could vote and comment on them.

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My favorite is her in the picture frame. I love her clothes and hairstyles.

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Dude, the dress she wore as she said goodbye to Mr Noh was STUNNING. I AM IN LOVE WITH IT.

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She so gorgeously put together! I love everything about her outfits. And the way her hangs hangs regally down her back. We’re in the midst of a super humid monsoon and my hair is just 🤷‍♀️ Awful. I have serious hair envy at the moment

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* her hair

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I really like her hair in the scene where she finds Chan Sung drying himself at the swimming pool. It had waves and end curls added to it and was blowing delicately in the wind. Yes, serious hair-envy!!!

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I took great quality screencaps. I'm going to post them on my fan wall (gotta do for Her Private Life too). You can took the pics as you like ;)

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Thanks @kathia!

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Took a look. You did a LOT of work! Thanks!

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We should thanks IU's stylist, Noh Joo Hee, for all those beautiful wardrobes. She posted the full body pictures of the outfits on her instagram!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bz5iPFrlFKP/?igshid=1u01mjr6oowpb

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Many thanks @silentreader!

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I just love her looks!! She looks so gorgeous in all of them. <3

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Looks like she styles Kim Sae Ron as well..

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Seems like they're rewriting Goblin.

IU is just SUPER-CUTE! =)

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I ABSOLUTELY AGREE! LOVE her fashion, hairstyle!!! I wished I could have a chance of someone dressing me like her! What a wonderful experience IU must be having!

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In true Korean tradition she is rewarded for her past life.

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@moonbean ie, her past life as Lee Ji An in My Ahjusshi! 😄

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Exactly! 😅

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Manager Noh's farewell to Man-wol was just so sad. We didn't get to spend a lot of time with him, but his relationship with Man-wol is just so special, especially when he told Man-wol that she was his sister, his daughter, and grandchild. I saw a deep mix of emotions coming from IU when Man-wol told Manager Noh that since she can’t die, she can’t promise they’ll meet again. She didn't cry but her face tells us so much more emotions.

I also liked Chan-sung's growth this episode. His conversation with the blind ghost was sweet. It is not so much, but it is better than seeing him be scared of ghosts all the time. I hope his character grows little by little and give us those sweet and heartfelt moment with the ghosts he will encounter in the future.

Also, we need more of Man-wol being badass!

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I got teary eyes on Manager Noh's departure and his meeting with Man-wol under the tree... it's beyond sad...

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It is indeed sad. We were only shown Man-wol being her usual self towards Manager Noh on ep 1 and 2 so it was surprising to see her vulnerable at that moment. And their conversation and facial expressions made the scene even more sad.

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I was sad that he had no time at all to enjoy a retirement.

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I'm sorry but am i the only one who thinks these recaps are too slow ? i mean episode 2 was aired on Sunday and it's not Thursday. i thought having more contributing writers means faster content

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Unfortunately, not all recappers on DB have recapping as their main job. Also, Lollypip, who is recapping this show, has been sick these past few weeks so recap delays are inevitable. I hope you understand the situation of the recappers here on DB.

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You might not be the only one, but I'm pretty confident that most Beanies understand that recappers, and the other minions involved in editing and posting, have jobs and responsibilities outside DB. I'm willing to wait for a quality recap and thoughtful commentary, and that's why I keep coming back here.

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Isn't it fine if its now Thursday? Ideally the recap should be out before the next episode airs, and this is well in time. There's three whole days to Saturday night. For me, the recap is a nice way to revisit the episode in the middle of the week, while I wait for the next episode. I'm happy with Wed-Thursday recaps for Sat-Sun episodes.

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@greenfields
I think there is a positive in a couple of days break between the week's 1st and 2nd ep recaps. This gives time for the first episode to have its discussion.

The days of overnight recaps are long gone. I don't think even beanies would be prepared for the changes of going back to those hectic heady times.

I want to send my thoughts and love to all the recappers...it can not be an easy task at times and some of the dramas lately must be trying to find diamonds in a desert...but some how they do. Its like magic.

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I think the same, SadKDramaLama. I still remeber when the staff was recapping eleven shows at the same time and after that they were burned for a month or so. As much as I love their work, I am all in for a sustainable approach.

Hope that other Beanies think twice before saying "I can't wait" because morally we kind of force upon Recappers who feels obliged to respond to our demands.

On the other hand, Hong Sisters used to be "Crème de la Crème" before "Warm & Cozy" despite a previous "Big" mistake (Hur Hur). Today we still love them but we have tempered our expectations. Seeing one of their Dramas is like meeting an old dear friend we seldom see nowadays, rather than the feverish anticipation of going on a date with a new love.

Hope to read you soon!.

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If we assume that Chan-sung is the reincarnation of Man-wol's past lover, do you think she remembers this? That would explain her curiousity and attraction towards him, rather than just brushing it off as Chan-sung belonging to her after what happened to his father.

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That was my question last episode too. I think the fact the tree bloomed, when it never had before, and Chan-sung's dad chose to pick those relatively small flowers after walking through a whole garden of big blooms, is a tip-off of some kind to her that this transaction is special. But she might not know exactly what, and she might not even remember the past as it was.

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Lollypip, you're my favorite recapper on this site. Thank you so much for recapping HDL!💜

The first 2 episodes got me hooked! I really adore the way they humanize the ghost clients in this drama, how the ghosts get to fulfill their deepest and unfulfilled desires at the hotel. Every door leads to an alternate universe, tailored to their needs. The part where they show the studying grandma made me smile😭😊 The gluttonous girl breaks my heart though. What kind of life has she lived to be starving like that.

The hotel staffs' chemistry is great as well. Can't wait to hear their backstories.

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I love the world building! I hope we delve deeper into ghost stories now that Chan Sung is settled into new manager position, the scaredy cat routine got old pretty fast, I hope the show will drop it for good. I'm ready for ghost-problem-solving-episodes.

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The tiger CGI was so well done. Its back muscles moved as it walked, and its paws spread out when they touched the ground. I hope future dramas follow this super high production quality Hotel Del Luna is attaining.

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I can’t help noticing the difference between the tiger CGI and everything else. I think the tiger was purchased from animation companies and all the other CGI (missy long arms in the elevator) was made in house.

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That's a good point. I wonder if a drama could hire an animation company to do all of its CGI. That would probably cost much more than doing it with the production staff, and would that cost raise ratings enough to balance out?

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Of course some kdramas will hire animation companies. However I feel most large production companies have simple CGI done themselves. More than cost, it’s they need it done in a really short time (compared to movies). I believe the tiger was recycled animation. It is quicker to buy animation previously used in big movies and just render different movements to fit their plot. Like @coffeprince4eva mentioned “Life of Pi” came to mind for me too. They will only have to change certain details of the tiger and alter the motion. Buying recycled animation is the simplest quickest and cheapest way to do it, compared to drawing it up from scratch.

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@geliguolu
It's always about how well they hide the seams.

Its hard to mask when you make it front and centre with clean focus and simple tracking. Sadly, in this drama, the edges of make believe are so visible and it keeps dropping me out of the world...sad, because ATM I really want them to take me for the ride.

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I expect the more this drama goes on its going to look less and less like a Tim Burton movie and more and more like a standard K-drama.

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You are absolutely right! The tiger was ‘Life of Pi’ quality! Very impressive

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Definitely better than MAMA FAIRY tiger, which was a drama where even the Cat looked fake.
.
Oh wait..that was Kang Mina!
Does anybody know what kind of role Mina's going to have here? Not the tiger, that much I know😅.

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Or, it could have just been a difference in software used. Here, for example is something from the software Blender. Blender is one of the applications we use in the animation classes I teach.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGw1gQe4PDw While the software is not very user friendly (steep learning curve) it is very, very good and free.

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For once, I think a past connection makes sense. If this man was the reason Man-wol became cursed, then it makes sense to include him in the story of her finally being free of the curse. It CAN proceed without him, but there's a sense of complete closure with him. I look forward to finding out more.

I guess we're going to get episodic/weekly "missions" with the overarching story spread out over the next 7 weeks? I like the sound of that.

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I went back to Ep 1 to watch the early Man Wol scenes ... the guy that looked at her and smiled was another guy though. At least it did not look like YJG. So if that is the guy who is supposed to be the link, then maybe he gets reincarnated as a YJG lookalike. Heheheh!

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Yes, he looked like someone else.. But who knows, that's another guy which we haven't known yet who he is...

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I agree but that is from later episodes. A quick/gentle reminder that DB's comments policy expressly asks us to.not refer to.later episodes in a recap to.prevent spoilers. :) I think its on the About Us page. Even I haven't seen episoDe 4 yet.

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Removed. Thanks!

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I like this drama a lot so far,at least in paper, but at times it falls flat and I think it's because of the casting. So far the leads have no chemistry. Yeo Jin Goo always gets praised for his acting but it's my first time seeing him in a drama and I'm not sure he is all that great in this role. The scene with IU and the manager was the best of the episode.

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The Ghost Queen Of Melonia has nothing to say on this drama's recaps until episode 4 but just wants to level up so don't mind me just ghosting through la di di da day hotel de la luna shxtpost coming soon to a dank wall post near you

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Oh IU is great here alright. I like her already.

And can i mention it here again that I cried for that tiger. When the painting became real in front of it's eyes & it finally found home, I was sobbing. >.<

I hope they keep the plot this interesting.

Thank you for the recap <3

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This is quite the surprise! I thought I was the only weird person who bawled at the Tiger arc. I mean, Manger Noh only made me a teensy bit teary eyed, and I managed to keep it in because it was a well-used trope: The hero's father figure saying goodbye after an emotional speech.
But the tiger? Oh man. That poor poor animal.
You are so correct. Keep the emotional quality upto this level thruout the drama, and I'll be soooold.

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I always cry for all kinds of characters 'returning home' or the finding the place they had been looking for. And if it's animals then i weep rivers.
I cried so much for the poor lost soul of the tiger & was so happy it finally found peace. It's life story was so tragic & i know it's supposed to reflect IU's character's life story but even without that it was so heart touching.
*Sniff* 🤧

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U weren't the only one,i cried sooo much...I usually cry when it involves animals but the backstory was so sad even more when it is a very real thing in reality as well...

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T_T
Indeed it was very sad. And when it saw the mountain (reflected in it's eyes) & moved on I was literally bawling.
Very well done

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If you like good literature, I recommend you "How Wang-Fô was saved" in Marguerite Yourcenar's "Oriental Tales". You will find something similar. Sometimes salvation lies on imagination.

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I'm so in love with IU's lipstick colors.... :)

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I second it. That’s some awesome lipstick game she’s got!

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I generally avoid shows where there are ghosts because I am more of a scaredy-cat than Chan-sung! But this show has got me hooked. I really hope they don't make the ghosts frightening to look at. I'm not like you @lollypip! I try to watch this show during daytime but sometimes I can't wait; I'll just watch with all the lights on!

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Don't worry (much). The last Hong sisters ghost show had one scary-looking ghost at the start and then the rest didn't hardly look scary at all.

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Dear Sichibot and @lordcobol , the first scary ghosts in Master's Sun was a confused Big Sun shocked at was she was experiencing. Later the ghosts became less scary and more likable because, ikn that show and I think in this one, at the end of the day ghosts are people like you and me. The blind ghost was not trying to scare Chang Sung, she simply was lost and he was the only person that responded to her. He later understood that.
Imagine you are lost in a foreign country and after running around for a desperately long time, you hear someone speaking English on his phone... you are saved!.

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That's a relief! I'm a hotelier, too, and I stay in the hotel for weeks at a time. I've heard some scary stuff from guests and staff, but the only paranormal thing I've experienced was the sound of a child laughing in an empty stairwell. I don't need more content to fuel my imagination when I'm in the hotel at night!

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@fgb4877
That is such an interesting reading of Master's Sun - I had not looked at it that way...it does make it comforting.

I will have to re-watch it with your take to see if it makes sense this way round....perhapses I missed something.

From my original watching, I thought MS lost something when the spirits lost their intensity. It was both the rationale for their connection and the necessity for her proximity.

At present, "people like us" diminishes what the show set up in the beginning (as she had lived with that for so many years and knew how dangerous it was). Sure, for most of us, we see polite normality but sadly the world is already full of unspeakable brutality...done by people "just like us".

There is also the possibility of just the mental torture in seeing the "other" that can not translate to our experience...like trying to explain 3D to a 2D world. Even if there is just the honesty of seeing how spirits really think...most of us would collapse into an emotional heap if we could see what everyone really thought about us.

Thanks for expanding the options.

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SadKDramaLama, I did read a long time ago a quote from (I think) Osho, saying that when Krshna showed his true self to Arjuna, he almost fainted... he was not ready to experience the complexity of Divinity.

We humans are very complex beings. We love our families but can also be annoyed to no end by them... and that doesn't mean we love them any less.

The world we see and the way we relate to people are part of an effort to create a layer of stability in a chaotic experience. Interestingly, even if chaos is the ultimate essence of existence, civilization and order are also true, and no less than the other.

Existence is full of paradoxes, that is part of the fun!!!, if everything were predictable, where would lie the fountain of possibilities?.

Hope to read you soon!

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@fgb4877
Oh - I had forgotten that Krishna /Arjuna interaction...that is the perfect example. I find the breath of your references so inspiring.

However, I'll leave the 'families' comment alone.

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Even non-fantasy K-dramas that don't have actual ghosts often show family rites on a relative's death day offering their spirits food and drink (From 'Marriage not Dating' to 'My Ajusshi'). So it appears the Asian association with 'ghosts' is quite different, culturally, from the American one

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Thanks @lollypip It's been a fun 2 episodes, although I'm giving it 4-6 episodes to see how I feel about Chan Sung. Everyone else felt like they fit in, except Chan Sung's character.

I like the conceit that with his coming as a repayment for his father's life, Chan Sung gets to (maybe) restart Man Wol's clock of mortality. This is one rare show where I want the leads to be 'happily mortal' and where there is no regret about dying.

I'm beginning to think that there are at least 3 running jokes going on in the show.
1)There's the one about Man Wol admiring Kim Hyun Joong for eating 5 dumplings and dying... as if it is a great achievement instead of a sign of his greed. She's like a fan girl.
2) There's the other one about Man Wol being concerned that the stores are going to close and she nags about buying stuff before they do.
3) And there's the one about Man Wol linking specific restaurant food to locations that have no connection for Chan Sung, so that he insists that she is just making up an excuse to eat specific dishes. She does not correct him.

WRT to point 2), Man Wol agrees that it is a good metaphor for herself, still waiting outside when the stores are closed, like those who remain on earth when their lives are over, or trying to buy/achieve something before the end comes. I'm hoping that that something is being able to live fully and die like a normal person after centuries of living.

I'm also hoping for more pathos and warm heartedness from menacing, ruthless Man Wol by the mid-point of the show.

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I like the reverse trope of FL instead of ML buying shoes for the guy and telling him to wear them and come. There always seemed to be a deeper meaning behind wearing the shoes that the buyer chose for one and walking in them/going to them. I take it to be like shaking hands on a deal where the one who receives agrees to go along with the plans of the one who gives. We know that Chan Sung does not have a hope to get out of any deal made with Man Wol. 😝

I'm looking forward to him embracing his new role.

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Just remembered how giving shoes means breakup

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Except that every chaebol heir male lead buys the candy outfits that include shoes... the “gifting shoes mean parting” seems apply only when convenient?!?

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@hebang
It can still hold for 'candy' gifts - the subtext is 'goodbye' - it signals a 'candy' can never be of this chaebol world.

It only looks different on the surface.

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Lmao it is the same in my culture too!

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Man-wol's dumpling mukbang reminds me of Ji-an's mukbang in "My Mister." I'm happy looking at IU's mukbang.... :). The dumpling scene made me so hungry...

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I’m inlove with IU’s acting! She’s getting better and better!
As for YJG, I hope he’d let himself more loose.

Looks like the show will go with an episodic format with regards to the ghost, can’t wait for random cameos! And Man-wol hunting for restaurants Kim Joon-hyun went to is freaking hilarious.

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Did anyone else notice that the path to heaven looked a bit over grown, little used?

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Hi @hebang which scene was that?

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The limousine to heaven... Manager Noh and the mountain climber each gets on in what looks like an over grown, little used area, and it goes over a road that doesn’t look to be in great shape into a stone lined tunnel with a brightness at the other end.

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Ah... yes... seems that the very good people who get to go by limousine are not that many. However, although we have not yet seen it, they also have a bus service to heaven. It might use the same tunnel?? Or maybe bus lets off people to trudge across the bridge over Sanzu River and does not use the tunnel either?

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I thought I heard “bus to the afterlife/next life”, not heaven? There are some yet to be filled gaps in the world building...has me curious.

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@hebang Hmmm... you've got me wondering now ... I'm taking the word 'heaven' to mean that the souls going there are good souls, and are going to their eternal rest. 'Afterlife' might mean either 'heaven' or 'hell', but from the way the souls were behaving, I'd guess it means the good, happy afterlife ie 'heaven'. So in this show's subs, it could be synonymous.

The limousine said "To Heaven". The souls walking on the bridge were walking towards their afterlife, peacefully,... maybe after a stay at the Hotel? So I'm thinking the bus/walk to the afterlife meant that it was more 'heaven'.

I took it for granted that the Hotel deals with guests who are not bad enough to go to 'hell'. They come to the Hotel to satisfy what they could not have on earth, so that they can go happily to 'heaven' (and presumably do not remain on earth as disgruntled or vengeful spirits).

I'd imagine that going to 'hell' would have guests never wanting to leave the Hotel, or that the Hotel staff would have to pack them up in an armoured truck or something to send them to the netherworld.

There is also the other character, the Vacuuming Grim Reaper who sucked/swept the debris of the evil mayor away. All we saw of his soul was a hand reaching out from the dust to grab onto Chan Sung. It would be unlikely that his soul would have a chance to sojourn at the Hotel. Man Wol would probably throw him out anyway, or his soul might have been sucked into the netherworld immediately.

So will the Hotel accept evil souls? This remains to be seen, but I doubt it very much. 😄

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@growingbeautifully

I think most spirits in this world cross the SanJu River on their own. Whether they go to heaven, hell, purgatory, or a u-turn, or something else, we don’t know yet. All we know is that “heaven” exists, whatever that is to the Hong sisters for this drama.

I understand your view, and suspect you are right on the no evil ghosts at the hotel. But I still wonder about the “road to heaven.” The road has pot holes, rain collects in pools, just does not look like a well maintained road. And the starting point is not suitable for a bus with a crowd... perhaps the bus takes a different route? But then which would you expect to be of higher quality - the l8mo path or the bus path?

Of course I could be over analyzing a scene that may simply be an homage to Spirited Away. By the way, there seems to be quite a few “homage” scenes in this drama, almost enough to be a drinking game.

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From what little Buddhist theology I'm able to glean, hell is apparently for the VERY bad, Afterlife for good-and-bad leads to eventual reincarnation, and ultimately heaven is for the righteous who have gained the necessary enlightenment from their multiple rebirths. There may even be a stage above heaven, which is oblivion, for the truly righteous.

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@bob @hebang
Thanks @bob then that could explain why the tracks to Heaven are so little used! Hence a bumpy ride in the limousine. 😁

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That tunnel is almost a rl replica of the tunnel in Spirited Away.

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I immediately thought the same thing when I saw it, probably because I just re-watched Spirited Away, so it's fresh in my mind.

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@geliguolu
There are soooo many "nods" to Ghibli its distracting. Personally, I think it is weighting the drama down rather than letting it create its own world.

Man-Wol is potentially such an interesting character that her story deserves its own creation to inhabit rather than what feels like a Yubaba homage.

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Yes, it's really off the beaten path (literally) and made me wonder where in the hotel grounds it is and why it's in such disrepair.

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@hebang
WHOA! That is such a nice pick up....potentially so dark.

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I love love IU and she is is the reason I am watching. Yeo Jin Goo is miscast for me, but maybe he'll get better🤷🏾‍♀️

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For me too. He doesn't fit the role or the drama. I'm more excited for Lee Joong Gi's cameo.

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I loved his acting in Crowned Clown but I agree with you! It would have been better if they cast an actor in his 30's to make it more convincing.

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I completely forgot Kang Mi-Na from gugudan is in this until I saw the header at the top of this post. I'm really looking forward to seeing her character.

So far, so good. IU as Man-wol is a delight. There are so many levels to the character and we have only scratched the surface. I hope we are presented with the amount of depth I see the potential for. My favorite part of this episode was Man-wol dragging Chan-sung to yet another restaurant because she saw it on TV hahaha

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I’ve been reading comments on Weibo and Naver and it seems only in the English speaking community do I see comments about miscasting Jingoo. Is it because we all know how Harvard MBA’s should act and look? Lol

Others don’t seem to care much about him being too young looking. I guess they are used to guys in late 20s acting like early 20s. Some find it entertaining that they reversed the genders on the traditional “child bride” (when rich families adopted infant girls and raise her to be the heir’s future wife). I didn’t see it that way before but now that I see him nicknamed Tongyangfu (child raised groom), it does seem like an interesting twist.

I was laughing when his colleague introduced him as a really experienced hotelier. And then he jumps into the swimming pool fully suited. I bursted out loud. All that inner voice calculation and this was your best option? I’m wondering how he explained that to his colleague and that rich guy🤔😂

I’m glad that by the end of episode Chan Sung has started to face his fear of ghosts. IMO his fear was more pleasant to watch because of the comedic service. That’s a great improvement over the FL’s fear in Master’s Sun that I turned me off despite loving the actress, especially her sleepless look makeup.

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I can't put my finger on it, but YJG is still not at home in his role, ... or something like that. I don't get a sense of awkwardness with the other actors. Gotta give him 2-4 more episodes to convince me.

Yes, there is more than one reverse trope where it's the guy who plays the girl's role here (as was mentioned in last recap, the Beauty and the Beast reversal too). The child-groom thing is cute, sounds like a truly Korean view and quite likely, actually.

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I'm not surprised with the comments on Naver(not sure about Weibo). YJG was the nation's little brother, he can do no wrong.

I've just watched ep 1. The Harvard thing didn't bother me. This isn't the first time a drama requires me to suspend belief in this area.

@growingbeautifully YJG is better in this drama than in My Absolute Boyfriend. After watching this, I think the reason why he seems 'unnatural' to me is that he has these canned expressions or reactions to each situation.

I find that this is a problem(at least to me) with actors who are very expressive. With newbies who have this ability, it's viewed positively. After a while, it becomes the actor's signature style of acting. But it is also a double edged sword because over time through more projects, you see the actor instead of the character he's playing. I think all actors have their own style honed over time, it's just that some has more distinctive traits than others. And there are few who would go to great lengths to differentiate themselves in each role.

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Maybe its just me but I feel he has already shown all the expressions he has. What I mean is I don't think there is anymore new ways in which he can act so I find many of his expressions recycled. Sometimes they look forced but I don't think there will be many new sides to him as he continues acting because he has peaked in terms of 'versatility' and there is nothing more he can do that is new or better.

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He's still a kid, especially considering that during the time others his age were being adolescents and such, he was busy at work being an actor. He's got plenty more surprises for us. He just needs to take a little vacation long enough to make us miss him. :-)

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I am not writing him off. I agree with @zzthorn
he just needs a break/sabbatical or even maybe enlist early and make a great comeback.

I don't follow actors so I have no idea. This is just based on my impression - YJG is a nice kid, very earnest. If someone can guide him, direct him well and give him constructive feedback, he might knock viewers off their feet like he used to.

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I believe he’s a well. Where shows use him just to be visible on the surface, he’s ordinary. But if they ask him to dig deep, his depth is immeasurable... with never ending supply of fluids (tears, blood, saliva).

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This could be why I'm struggling to understand why he's being criticized. I've only seen him before in Circle and thought he did a good job. Same in this. Nothing stellar but nothing objectionable. Also hated the girl in Masters Sun the first few episodes but she changed dramatically through the show so hoping character development will make me really take to him.

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@outofthisworld so far, Seo In Guk has been an actor who is able to morph himself into completely different characters with very little remaining of the actor Seo In Guk. There have been times earlier in his career when I didn't even realize it was Seo In Guk playing the character. There are some other SK actors who are also wonderful, but Seo In Guk stands out the most when it comes to portraying characters rather than just acting out a part.

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For some reason, I've never watched SIG dramas so I've no idea. This ability to morph into completely different characters tells me that the actor is one who gives much thought and care into each role. That said, it's really not an easy task. I've seen some who create a whole set of mannerisms just for that character and drop it for the next. I guess that's why we often hear that they need time to 'get out' of the character before embarking on the next project.

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What?! How?! Go watch something of his already.

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Yes. Go watch a SIG Drama.

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Yes, that’s why I love him! He does the impossible by not only discarding his own everything, but for each character he creates different expressions, different visuals, and different speech patterns, transforming himself into a whole other person.

I remember after falling crazily in love with Yoon Jae in 2012, I didn’t recognize him at all in Master’s Sun the following year. Interestingly I found his acting in Master’s Sun the weakest of all his dramas. Kang Woo was written to be loved of course, but acting wise this character was not impressive.

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I agree!

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@outofthisworld
Does anyone else think that YJG seams to have lost his micro-expressions?

For me, it feels like he is trying to compensate by over exaggerating static expressions and the directing and camera work isn't helping...I am just finding it so hard to to connect with his emotions.

I re-watched some of early Circle, he was so intense. His expressions subtly hinted at multiple emotions. Even when he was scared, his micro expressions always took you on his journey from the shock of discovery - realisation of what is happening and then planning his next move...It was a rollercoaster ride.

It's killing me how many of my favourite SK actors are suffering this curse.

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I do not know but could this be the issue? I remember I loved his acting so much in Circle, I should go and dig out my raves about him -what had worked for me then?

Which other SK actors are you referring to?

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Let's keep in mind we're only 2 episodes in. Often actors are instructed to behave a certain way at the start so that they can be seen to 'mature' over the course of the series. I'm reminded of Hyrei in 'Answer me 1988' and Kim Go-eun in 'Goblin', Both played VERY young at the start and by the end were playing a decade older that the original character.

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Yes, he's better in this show.

However the thought, 'canned expressions' seems to resonate with what I feel about his performance in these first episodes. I feel that he's 'acting', rather than 'being the character'. I'm still prepared to give him the whole series to get into the skin of the character.

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I'm finding the discussion about YJG's acting very interesting.

For me, a stylised, mannered performance by the ML has become as much of a Hong sisters' trademark as their fantastical settings and love for word play.

For example, I love Greatest Love, but nobody would want to discuss Cha Seung-Won's micro expressions as Dok ko Jin. Same even for Warm and Cozy which is the most 'ordinary world' of their dramas, which would have put me off YYS if I hadn't seen him in Romantic Dr Kim first.

So I'm going to give YJG the benefit of the doubt for now, and think that the way he acts is because they want him to be that 'mannered' (for want of a better word) in this drama.

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This is something I've never considered since I've not watched those dramas mentioned. Coming fresh from his previous drama could have made me prejudiced from the start.

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Yeah, well, I did see him in that drama too and I understand what you're going through XD

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That’s also why I don’t think he’s awkwardly expressive by his own accord. I’m all too familiar with Hong’s Sisters style. Jugun, Ohgong, Mawang were all purposely outlandish in their respective Hong drama. What our hoobae lacks is a traceable signature that tells us “this is Chan Sung’s acting motto”. IU is aided by her wardrobe but she also doesn’t have that differentiating signature in her acting yet.

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Thanks for this @geliguolu. I wasn't aware that the Hong Sisters required actors to adopt a deliberate acting style.

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I agree re Hong Sisters and their style, and I also think what we see is YJG operating in two different acting conventions, and he's more successful in "tight" as opposed to "broad". Broad is over-exaggerated, bigger, and you lose micro-expressions except the exaggerated ones, while "tight" is what we saw in Circle. He is being directed to act in broad style, as is IU and the rest. Character actors have the most experience with this style, so the biggest challenge will be for YJG and IU. I am actually hoping the director switches to a tighter style now that the characters have been introduced because it is harder for me to connect emotionally to broad characters, a problem I had with Hwayugi.

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Thanks! This is insightful @barbrey. I too cannot relate to broad styles much. I lose patience with them faster.

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That is a very interesting observation. It made me immediately think of American writer/director David Mamet, who is known for the distinctive style of dialogue in his screenplays/plays, called "Mamet Speak." He's so particular about the actors delivering the lines in the exact manner he wants, with the exact number of syllables he wants, that there were rumors (which he denies) that he actually used a metronome for their dialogue!

The overall effect is that you can immediately tell one of his films by the way the actors speak, which sometimes sounds unnatural, especially if you are familiar with the actor's personal voice and speech patterns. I particularly noticed it in The Spanish Prisoner, with Steve Martin and Scott Campbell, both of whom sounded completely different than I was used to hearing them speak.

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Everyone should see Glengarry Glen Ross. It's an actor's clinic. Kudos for using Mamet as an example - his scripts are written for tight acting but have that opposed broad style overlain through rhythm that make you feel you're watching performance art in the best possible way.

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GORGEOUS CGI and beautiful world creating by the Hong sisters (so far) and the director really is bringing their vision to life. I'm really digging the outfit changes of IU and Changsung is hilarious. I'm super excited for what's to come and I hope all this hype doesn't fizzle out any time soon! Bring on the ghosts!

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Beautiful, healing imaginery.
The tiger entering the painting reminisced me to Marguerite Yourcenar's "How Wang-Fô was saved" in her "Oriental Tales". Sometimes salvation is found through imagination.
Also, loved how the blind ghost was just desperate to be oriented. Chang-Sung just had to learn that at the end of the day (Hur Hur) the ghost was only a person.
At this point, the ghost of the day (TM) seems to follow "Master's Sun"'s development as lessons in humanity and acceptance, that at the very end changed little by little So Ji-Sub's character and opened him to a world outside his fortune, his management and his trauma.
Hope it stay strong!

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I like your comparison to MASTER'S SUN and the lessons of the ghosts. I hope that you are right. At the same time it seems like the show will also be about what Chan-sun can teach IU's character. So we may actually have two sets of lessons in this show.

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Lollipip thank u for recapping this, May God strengthen u, and to all the recappers on DB ,May God strengthen u all , hotel de luna is good, iu has really improved in her acting unlike Suzy may be she has improved now , well we will all know when vagabond airs.

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I struggle to understand what roles IU was criticized for in the past. I first saw her as the fat girl in Dream High when I'd never heard of IU. I thought she really was fat until she dropped weight, and still thought she stole the show from all those good looking talented youngsters. She's the only actor I bothered to Google afterwards.

The director had a problem with close up camera work in Scarlet Heart but I still thought IU was delightful. She and the two main male leads were stellar. There were a few weak idol actors in that show, though I've seen worse, but IU was not among them.

She is in some short films on Netflix right now, and there was the Producers and My Ajusshi- she's good and or brilliant in all of them.

I understand critiques for Suzy, but not for IU. And I'm not a fan girl at all - don't follow any kpop idols or kdrama stars.

But here's the thing: I've been attached as critic or participant, even casting agent, to the theatre my entire life. I'm a very good judge of acting talent among westerners. But because I read subtitles and miss out on the spoken language in kdramas, I always wonder if I'm missing something that Koreans do not when actors that are okay or fine to me are criticized on the forums.

Anyway, I'd be glad to discover just when or what dramas started the IU is a weak actress reputation, because I've yet to see her weak in anything.

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Thanks for this @barbrey, It's good to know that there are people involved in casting and theatre here in our forums. I'm always interested to know how my 'armchair' reviews match up to reviews by those in the industry.

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You do great reviews!

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Shucks! Thanks @barbrey. That gives me such a boost coming from you!! Looking forward to reading ya!

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It is true , IU has never been weak in a drama, but she was a OK actress but now she is one of the best idol actress ,no more just ok actress but now an amazing and delightful actress to watch.

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@barbrey
I suspect some of the criticism of IU was due to SK netizens. If I recall, she had a few issues around the time of some of her dramas....and antifans are brutal.

Many of us are not used to the level of K anti-fan behaviour. To me - I avoid any gossip, its mostly just a gigantic eye role but sadly in SK it has really implications and much of it sticks

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She was criticized mainly for her acting in Scarlet Letter and specifically for her sageuk dialogues. This is something only native speakers will understand. Those criticisms didn’t come from antis and I believe it’s understandable how a much of a turn off it must be for a native listening to bad dialogue delivery in every scene. It’s more detrimental than under- or overacting.

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*Scarlet Heart, lol

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@javabeans once described the way a bad sageuk accent would sound to a Western ear... I don't remember her exact words, but she said something like it sounding like an actress in a Jane Austen movie, but speaking with a Valley Girl accent.

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@lollypip Throw Sheldon (the character) in GOT and you get the feeling, lol. When it comes to sageuk, even Bae Doona "can't act" to the ears of SK.

@charlieblue17 I don't know how bad she was because I didn't see it. I avoided the remake because I loved the original. Even if she was time travelling, the character in the original was very keen on history and should be able to hide her "modern" self.

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Yes, I wondered if it had something to do with sageuk-speak. Was she really that bad, or was that another bad decision of the director's to have her speak modern Korean? Also, the sibellance of sageuk-speak appears to be missing from a lot of fantasy or fusion sageuks these days, or am I wrong?

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@barbrey
Yes, your observation is correct. And not just fantasy or fusion sageuks toned done the sibilance. I remember in The Making Of special for Crowned Clown, the minister demonstrated how he used to act in palace dramas vs how he modernize his acting in CC because the old fashion sageuk speech is draggy and will turn young viewers away. The way I interpreted it, sageuk acting has gotten even more difficult now. While it used to require actors to change their enunciation and drag out the syllables, now it requires changing their enunciation without slowing down the speech. The younger actors who grew up speaking abbreviated words, slurs, and slangs will more likely find themselves tongue tied.

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*toned down

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I have not watched Scarlet Heart beyond the first few episodes, as the story did not appeal to me, and every fan review I’ve ever read hated the ending!

That being said, in SH, the FL character is a contemporary, 21st century woman who is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty, so why would she be speaking like some person from the 900s??

It is interesting, however, that according to reviews, although the series is hugely popular in international markets, in South Korea it was criticized for its screenplay, direction and performances. As I don’t speak Korean, and can’t judge the nuances of line delivery