Hotel del Luna: Episode 11
With an upcoming lunar eclipse, the hotel prepares for a rare special occasion. Although this special occasion is celebrated with a renewed sense of life at the hotel for the dead, our protagonists also experience the potential of loss and the depth of sorrow that follows. Our trusty manager Chan-sung takes pride in his progress with building trust and compassion in our stubborn lingering spirit Man-wol, but he consequently realizes the difficulty of his impending loss. This fear is also mirrored by Man-wol, as she prepares for her blossoms to reach their end.
EPISODE 11 RECAP
Chan-sung wakes up from a dream of Man-wol racing to meet Chung-myung after seeing her wine jug hanging from the tree. Chung-myung was waiting at their rendezvous spot holding a decorative pin, but we don’t see what happens next.
As Chan-sung ponders this new piece of Man-wol’s past, Sanchez shows him a gift delivery from Man-wol. Chan-sung opens the card, which simply says, “To thank you…” He remembers embracing Man-wol by the ancient tree and smiles in satisfaction that his sincerity was acknowledged.
But then, he opens the gift and finds a tiger print suit. He’s repulsed by the flashy outfit, and Sanchez jokes that he should get the same thing for himself to greet his girlfriend, who’s visiting soon. Chan-sung immediately grows suspicious about how Man-wol got the money to buy this.
Sanchez reveals that he met up with Man-wol recently to help her settle her grandfather’s inheritance. In a flashback, we see Man-wol requesting help from Sanchez to sell a horse. She claimed that Chan-sung was too busy with hotel business and promised to treat Sanchez later down the road when he visits the hotel.
Chan-sung realizes that the horse was the CEO Wang’s payment for the dream call service. He heads to work with a refreshed conviction, and when Seo-hee informs him about the overwhelming requests for the dream call service from the rest of the guests, he says that all guests should be treated equally.
Huffy Chan-sung walks in on Man-wol admiring her new jewelry, and she notes that he didn’t wear his new suit. She flaunts her tiger print scarf that she bought to match with him. Chan-sung isn’t amused and tells Man-wol that she needs to attend to the rest of the guests who are requesting her special dream service.
Man-wol says that only guests who provide special payment are granted this service, and Chan-sung points out that she already received enough payment with the horse. He makes a deal: She can keep the money as long as she fulfills the guests’ requests for the dream service.
Man-wol argues that some guests will do no good and could even cause harm by using this service. She claims that she doesn’t discriminate by money but by the sincerity of the guests. Much to Man-wol’s frustration, Chan-sung doesn’t let these requests fall to her discretion and instead offers to filter through the guests’ requests to offer this service to those who could truly benefit.
Chan-sung and Man-wol sit through the calls — a chef passing on a secret naengmyeon recipe to his protégé, a patient who calls her “oppas” (cue: Fake Love by BTS, lol) to thank them for their inspiration — and meet the man and his son who had passed that day from a car accident. With his one call, the father initially wanted to call his wife, but he changed his mind. He wants to visit the driver who hit them.
Man-wol assumes that the father wants to curse the driver in indignation and disallows the call, but the father clarifies that he wants to apologize. We see the traumatized driver handing his resignation letter to his boss, and when he walks out, he sees the father and son. The driver falls to his knees and cries, begging for forgiveness.
The father apologizes and says that they were in the wrong for suddenly running into the street. He says that they’ve left a heavy misfortunate burden on the driver. He and his son bow to the driver in apology, and the driver apologizes and thanks them. When the father hangs up, he says that his heart feels lighter and thanks Man-wol for the service.
Man-wol looks affected by the father’s gracious forgiveness, and Chan-sung suggests that they stop here for today. But Man-wol insists that they finish their list, since they only have a few guests remaining. Chan-sung smiles at Man-wol’s growing sympathy.
Our resident hotel staff look at the blossomed flowers from the ancient tree, and Hyun-joong tries to assure Seo-hee and Bartender Kim with the possibility that these flowers could stay for a while. But Seo-hee knows that Mago wants to send Man-wol on her way — these blossoming flowers will meet their end. Bartender Kim says that they should be prepared to cross over, since it looks like Man-wol will be leaving soon.
After connecting all of the guests to the dream service, Man-wol walks out limp in exhaustion. The sessions have drained her, and Chan-sung has just the solution to reenergize her – the famous rice cake soup place that Man-wol has failed to enter due to the long lines. He has an in through a Harvard colleague, and he made a reservation for the whole place that night.
Excited for this outing, Man-wol runs back to prepare the right look for this rice cake soup restaurant. In his office, Chan-sung momentarily contemplates changing into the tiger print suit, but he ultimately decides against it.
At the restaurant, Man-wol takes pictures of the soup and of Chan-sung, and we see her smiling at the picture of him. Chan-sung wants to speak to Man-wol in banmal (informally), so he makes a deal: If he eats enough rice cakes (traditionally, rice cakes are consumed in the new year and signify growing a year older), then he can use banmal with Man-wol. They bicker about how many years each rice cake is worth, and Man-wol looks amused by his determination.
Hyun-joong admires the blossoms on the ancient tree and wonders why the flowers must sadly meet an end. We see a firefly buzz rise into the tree, transitioning into the firefly right outside the window of the restaurant. Man-wol and Chan-sung race to eat more rice cakes to gain more years, and they laugh heartily in each other’s company.
Detective Young-soo presents his investigation on the serial killer and shows the website “Helllo” (hell + lo, which means “to,” so translated to “To Hell”), which initially served as an online community to share concerns but deformed into an angry emotional outlet. He’s confirmed that their suspect uploaded curses about his wife and commented on posts about the other victims.
Young-soo also notes that the posts about the other victims had the most views and comments. The goal of the website is to collectively hate, and Young-soo thinks that the suspect may have fulfilled these curses in real life. The victims had no idea who killed them and why.
At the hotel, Yoo-na confirms with the murder victims that the suspect in custody is not the murderer. She’s convinced that the driver of the car with the ghost is their suspect and asks the victims to describe their killer to create a sketch. Hyun-joong warns her that she’ll get in big trouble if Man-wol finds out about her investigation.
Murderer Ji-won tracks down the moving truck driver to ask about Yoo-na, who he identified from his car dashboard camera. The driver gives him Yoo-na’s social media information, and he goes to Yoo-na’s school to investigate further, pretending to be an entertainment recruiter. Yoo-na’s classmates call her strange and share that Yoo-na can see ghosts. Ji-won creepily smiles in amusement.
Chan-sung approaches Bartender Kim to commend the branding of their hotel’s signature drink, Tears, and suggests that he expand this menu (i.e. “Angel’s Tears” and “Devil’s Tears,” ha). He then notices Yoo-na conversing with the murdered ghosts, and Bartender Kim explains that Yoo-na finds something unsettling about this case.
Yoo-na gives Chan-sung the license plate number of the suspected killer, and Chan-sung orders her to stay out of this dangerous case. Hyun-joong agrees and tells her to focus on school instead of this investigation. Yoo-na reluctantly agrees to hand over the investigation to Chan-sung after putting together the facial composite.
Seo-hee drops off the new list of guest requests, and Man-wol grumbles in annoyance. As Man-wol looks through the list, she asks Seo-hee why the staff aren’t frantically asking about the blossoms on the tree. Seo-hee informs her that they’re all preparing themselves and remains resolute in seeing her in-law family line end before she leaves.
Man-wol knows that Seo-hee’s daughter died in the interest of extending the family line, but she warns Seo-hee not to do anything like what she did 42 years ago. She says that the 200 years of virtue would go to waste if Seo-hee were to dissolve into an evil spirit. But Seo-hee — tightly gripping her hands with constrained hatred — says that this grudge is worth giving up her virtuous years of service.
Man-wol doesn’t push further and notes the lunar eclipse this month. Seo-hee says that it will be a long eclipse and says that she’ll prepare accordingly. Then, she heads out of the office and leads a lone guest to his quarters. Hmm, I wonder what this eclipse means for the hotel.
When Chan-sung returns home, he’s met with burly security guards who escort him to a mysterious older lady. He recognizes her from the paper that morning and asks why she wanted to meet with him. She asks to meet with Man-wol and explains that she was a former manager at Hotel del Luna.
Chan-sung brings this esteemed guest, former manager Hwang Moon-sook, to the hotel, and she’s greeted with delight by the resident staff. It’s been about 30 years since she left, and she can no longer see any other ghosts other than the staff. When Moon-sook sees Man-wol, she bows respectfully.
In Man-wol’s office, Moon-sook comments on how big the hotel became, and Man-wol credits this to Moon-sook’s shrewd investment in the Myeongdong land. Man-wol notes that she saw the news of Moon-sook becoming a big-shot president, but Moon-sook humbly says that she’s merely a candidate.
Moon-sook credits her success to Man-wol letting her go from the hotel, and Man-wol reminds her that she let her go reluctantly. Mago had dissolved Moon-sook’s spirit vision because her talents were too great to be tied down to the hotel manager role. Man-wol laments that Moon-sook could have made her a wealthier landowner if she stayed at the hotel.
Pleasantries aside, Man-wol asks the reason for Moon-sook’s sudden visit, and Moon-sook reveals that she has a request. Knowing the way to Man-wol’s heart, Moon-sook first offers up a large sparkly gift, and Man-wol is immediately all ears. Moon-sook says that it’s a small but important request, especially significant because of the longest eclipse in 39 years.
Bartender Kim explains to Chan-sung that Moon-sook was responsible for building the foundation of wealth that permits Man-wol’s extravagant lifestyle. Chan-sung expresses awe at the unfathomable — that someone as great as Moon-sook had served the hotel — and Seo-hee further explains that Man-wol never leaves any trace of her human hotel managers.
Man-wol explains to Chan-sung that the hotel is visible to humans during the eclipse, and humans can even see some of the ghost guests. Of course, the human guests will be turned away at the front desk, but Man-wol remembers a newlywed couple who stayed at their hotel during their last eclipse when Moon-sook was the manager.
In a flashback, we see the newlyweds running through the rainy night and entering the hotel for refuge. The manager at the time, Moon-sook, had convinced Man-wol to allow this couple to stay at their hotel, since the couple would otherwise spend their first wedded night in jail for violating curfew. They stayed in room 404, and Man-wol narrates that this was the first time a child was conceived at the hotel.
Man-wol says that child become Korea’s famous soccer player and whispers the name into Chan-sung’s ear. Chan-sung gasps in surprise, and Man-wol shares that Moon-sook just told her that this soccer player is her future son-in-law. In hopes of reaping the auspicious energy of the hotel, Moon-sook has requested that her daughter and son-in-law stay at the hotel for their honeymoon.
Man-wol orders him to prepare room 404, since these are human guests, but Chan-sung worries about the infamous room 404, where guests can check in but never check out. Man-wol confirms that guests can only check out into the afterlife and teases him to go check the room if he’s so concerned.
Curious and concerned, Chan-sung enters room 404 and closes the door behind him. Meanwhile, Man-wol announces to the staff that they’ll be hosting human guests for their honeymoon during the eclipse, and the staff cheer in excitement. Bartender Kim wonders where Chan-sung went, and when Hyun-joong tells him that he’s inside room 404, Bartender Kim says that they shouldn’t expect him until tomorrow. Huh, curious.
When Chan-sung returns home the following morning, he finds Sanchez calling his girlfriend, Veronica, who’s stopping by Korea soon from Shanghai. After the call, Sanchez shows off his proposal ring and asks if he can propose at Chan-sung’s hotel. Chan-sung immediately rejects this, and Sanchez suspects that something is unusual about this hotel that Chan-sung works at. He incorrectly guesses that they’re low on funds and offers to help.
They’re interrupted by Mi-ra heading out while arguing on the phone with Young-soo. Sanchez comments that she’s always fighting but continues to date Young-soo, and he wonders if they were mortal enemies in a past life (ha). Chan-sung nods in confirmation that they indeed were mortal enemies.
Sanchez was hoping to see the eclipse from the sky bar that Chan-sung boasted about, and Chan-sung apologizes for disappointing him. At the hotel, Chan-sung busily prepares for the eclipse guests — clearing out the 4th floor of ghost guests, preparing real flowers, checking the menu.
A live bee that flies out of the bouquet of flowers reminds Chan-sung of the firefly at the abandoned hotel that disappeared into the window and illuminated an outline of a ghost. He asks Hyun-joong if such thing as a bug ghosts exists, but Hyun-joong denies any knowledge of this. Before they set up the flowers, Chan-sung picks out a rose and awkwardly explains that it’s for his office. Smooth.
Chan-sung finds Man-wol exhausted from another day of dream call servicing, and she complains that she’s the only one taking care of their guests while everyone else is preparing for the eclipse guests. As a token of appreciation, Chan-sung offers her the rose and says that it’s special because it’s alive. Man-wol irately says that her garden is full of flowers, but Chan-sung argues that they’re all fake, except for the Jang Man-wol flowers on the ancient tree.
Man-wol seems embarrassed by the mention of the blossoming tree, and Chan-sung boasts that the tree blossomed as soon as he embraced her. He extends his hand to take the phone, and Man-wol vehemently rejects him, misinterpreting it as him offering another hug. Amused by her mortification, Chan-sung extends his arms and openly offers a hug. Aw, this is cute!
Man-wol begins to blabber on with her excuses, and Chan-sung shuts her up by sticking the rose in her mouth. He tells her that he’s placed an updated list of dream service requests and orders her to get back to work after recharging. He walks off, and Man-wol storms into her office, slamming down the phone and spitting out the rose.
Then, she remembers Chan-sung’s comforting embrace and his promise to not let her devolve into an evil spirit. She picks up the rose and sniffs it, confirming that it’s alive. She says that she’s indulging this rose only because it’s weak and sticks it in a bottle vase, giving it a long pensive look.
The eclipse begins, and the hotel staff excitedly get to the places to greet their honeymoon human guests. Chan-sung notes the excitement of the staff, and Man-wol says that this is a rare occasion when the hotel emerges into the living world, and the staff sense that they’re a bit more alive as an extension.
When the couple arrives at the hotel, Hyun-joong blunders his greeting, asking how long it’s been since they’ve passed and then quickly correcting it to how long they’ve been married. He escorts them into the lobby, where they’re led to an extravagant dinner with the hotel’s signature Tears drinks made by Bartender Kim.
Chan-sung finds Man-wol giddily watching the eclipsed moon from her office, and she expresses her satisfaction with seeing the despicable full moon covered. Chan-sung makes a cheesy metaphor that a new full moon (Man-wol) will resurface after the eclipse — a moon that is kinder and more frugal. He teases bad Man-wol to meet the good Man-wol outside when the full moon emerges.
Then, Chan-sung notes the punny nature of his ranking as number 0 (round like the moon) and his name — Gu, which means “round” in hanja and Chan-sung, which means “agree.” Man-wol banters back that his name must be Gu Okay, and Chan-sung corrects her that his English name is Andrew. Ah yes, some classic Hong sisters punny banter.
Chan-sung then traces the moon on the window with a diagonal cross and confirms with Man-wol that this is her mark on her possessions. He remembers Chung-myung holding the pin with this sign as he waited for Man-wol at their rendezvous point and wonders if this dream vision actually happened.
Seo-hee informs Man-wol that the couple is ready to head to their room, and she escorts the couple to room 404. She tells them not to exit the room until checkout, and the couple agrees to the terms, having heard about this room from the parents who once stayed there.
Meanwhile, Hyun-joong and Bartender Kim excitedly anticipate what great child will be conceived tonight. Reaper stirs his drink and smiles knowingly at the mention of conception, but Hyun-joong suggests that he stay in his lane and stay out of affairs regarding new life. Ha!
Sanchez calls Chan-sung and informs him that Veronica never showed up to dinner. He worries that she ghosted him because she felt burdened by his plan to propose. As he calls, a bloody figure, unbeknownst to Sanchez, approaches the table. The call is interrupted by an urgent message, and Sanchez immediately runs out of the restaurant.
We see that the bloody ghost at the table is Veronica (cameo by Seo Eun-soo), tragically dead from an accident in Shanghai. When Chan-sung arrives home, he runs into Sanchez frantically heading out with his bags to head to Shanghai. He says that he won’t be back until Veronica recovers, but then Chan-sung sees Veronica’s ghost in the house.
Chan-sung stops Sanchez and says that it’s too late, but Sanchez angrily denies this ominous message. Looking at the half-covered moon, Chan-sung urges Sanchez to trust him and asks that he come to the hotel so that he can see Veronica one last time.
When Chan-sung enters the hotel, he asks Hyun-joong to direct the woman following them into the hotel to the sky lounge. He takes Sanchez up, and we see Veronica enter the hotel soon after. At the sky lounge, Chan-sung gently explains to Sanchez that this place is a special hotel for ghosts.
He tells teary Sanchez that they don’t have much time left in the eclipse and says that Veronica will show up soon because she’s dead. Then, Veronica shows up and approaches Sanchez with a yearning look. Chan-sung gives them their space, and Veronica apologizes to Sanchez for showing up like this.
Veronica tenderly wipes away Sanchez’s tears and tells him not to cry too much because she was happy with him. As the eclipse ends, she tearfully says, “My great love, goodbye.” Sanchez pulls Veronica into an embrace just as the moon resurfaces, and she disappears in his arms. Devastated by his loss, Sanchez sobs under the bright full moon.
Man-wol and Seo-hee observe Chan-sung silently mourning, and Seo-hee says that a sudden death causes deep sadness in the surviving people. Man-wol notes that it’s been a while since she’s seen the sorrow of the those remaining alive. She meets eyes with Chan-sung, who looks at her with inexplicable sadness.
The next morning, Seo-hee greets the couple, who thank her for a memorable experience and exit into a new place — the room door disappearing behind them. The husband says that it’s just as his parents told him, that you can never find this hotel again. The wife hopes that their child will one day spend their honeymoon at this hotel.
Chan-sung tells Mi-ra that Sanchez will be in Italy for Veronica’s funeral, and Mi-ra laments that Sanchez didn’t get a chance to send off Veronica. Chan-sung cryptically says that Sanchez saw Veronica and trusts that he’ll endure, knowing that there’s more after death. Before Mi-ra can ask further, they’re interrupted by Moon-sook’s security guards who are there to escort Chan-sung.
At a crosswalk, Yoo-na studies the sketch of the killer from the victims’ descriptions, and she almost gets hit by an oncoming car. It’s Ji-won, and he feigns apology. Then, Yoo-na notices the ghost in his car and looks back at her drawing. It’s a match, so Yoo-na hails a taxi to follow Ji-won. In the car, Ji-won notices Yoo-na following him and looks satisfied that she took the bait.
Moon-sook thanks Chan-sung for facilitating a memorable stay for the newlyweds and says that Chan-sung is welcome to reach out for a job after his time at the hotel. Chan-sung says that he doesn’t intend on leaving, but Moon-sook says that Man-wol told her something different — that Chan-sung will leave soon, after sending off his last guest.
Moon-sook wonders if the rules of the hotel manager have changed and asks who this last guest is. Chan-sung responds that it’s someone that he likes very much, and Moon-sook sympathizes that this must be difficult. His voice shaking, Chan-sung acknowledges that it will be very difficult, despite knowing about this last guest in advance.
As Chan-sung looks up at the sky, he gets a call from Man-wol. She asks what he’s up to, and he says that he’s looking at the moon. Man-wol says that there’s no moon during the day, and he responds, “It must be difficult if I want to see the moon but can’t see it.” Hearing his message, Man-wol offers to meet up with him.
Right after Chan-sung hangs up, he gets a call from Yoo-na, who notifies him that she’s located Ji-won’s car. He orders her to stay there and not engage any further. While walking out of her office, Man-wol notices the wilted rose on her desk. She picks up a fallen petal, which seems to emit a menacing energy.
From the bar, Ji-won watches Yoo-na from his surveillance camera and wonders why she followed him. Then, we see the angry ghost lingering right next to him. When Chan-sung meets up with Yoo-na, she tells him that her sketch matches the driver. He takes a look at the sketch and seems alarmed by recognition of Ji-won. He quickly tells Yoo-na to leave and continues the investigation.
Chan-sung enters the wine bar and asks if anyone is there. He doesn’t see anyone but notices a set table with a used wine glass. Then, he sees a framed photo and recognizes the person: Ji-won. When he turns around, he comes face-to-face with the murdered ghost.
Meanwhile, Man-wol waits for Chan-sung at his house. She senses a presence and turns to find dark Mago, an unwelcome guest. Dark Mago claims that this is the version of the god that Man-wol anticipated the most, since she actively neglected reincarnation, healing, and fate — wishing to be exterminated by Dark Mago.
Man-wol scoffs at Dark Mago’s determination to exterminate her, but Dark Mago knows that she has something to lose now — the blossoms on the tree indicate this. Dark Mago threatens the loss of the person who caused those blossoms, and Man-wol’s expression turns dark.
Chan-sung turns to find Ji-won, who smiles at him in greeting, and Dark Mago says, “Foolish and arrogant Man-wol, did you say that you were not afraid of the blossoms ending? You are wrong. When you encounter fear, your blossoms will fall.” Realizing her fear, Man-wol hands tremble, and she looks at Mago fearfully.
As Man-wol faces Mago and Chan-sung faces Ji-won, we see the blossoms on the Moon Tree falling. Man-wol has found something to fear.
This is a cruel joke by the gods — stacking up Man-wol’s past and present against herself and cornering her to choose her own fate. She’s already facing the demons of her past, and now she’s gained something to lose, someone arguably more valuable than her past. What I once thought as a beautiful metaphor of the blossomed flowers naturally meeting the end of their cycle — just as Man-wol will naturally meet an end to her time in the living world — has become a source of fear and loss. Dark Mago is the epitome of a maleficent god, and while I find her methods spiteful, I think the way she tests Man-wol is meant to illuminate the strength of Man-wol’s character. Knowing that Man-wol and Chan-sung both hold a conflicting determination to protect each other, I’m interested to see how Man-wol responds to Dark Mago’s challenge.
The relationship between Man-wol and Chan-sung has been flirting between romantic and platonic, and I’m not too bothered by it. I much rather prefer the platonic relationship between the two, as it feels more natural and genuine, but I can understand how their budding relationship also relies on romantic interest. They care about each other, and the more they learn about each other, the more intimate they become. I think this episode emphasized how much Chan-sung really cares for Man-wol and how much that impending loss is going to hurt. Admitting that to Moon-sook made it more real for him, and I hope that loss isn’t going to be one impelled by Dark Mago.
I like this concept of a cosmic fate, of the Universe being a place where wounds heal through twists of fate, reincarnation, and forgiveness facilitated across multiple generations. God forbid this end tragically for Man-wol and Chan-sung, but I find some solace in this thread of cosmic fate. I trust that a Man-wol and Chan-sung reunion in a future reincarnation will grant them happiness and less of this cruel game of chess with the gods.
I enjoyed exploring the concept of the eclipse and the sense of life that fills the hotel under the darkness of the moon. It was a creative vehicle to change things up at the hotel, to bridge the distance between the living and the dead. I can tell the writing is fun, the acting is playful, while maintaining the poignant thread of heartbreak and loss. Although it was a short part of the episode, Sanchez’s loss left a strong impression and transitioned perfectly into Chan-sung’s own reflections on sorrow upon loss. He faces an inevitable loss in his job, and the weight of this is starting to feel real.
Materialistic Man-wol is funny, flawed, and sometimes seems too simple, but I find Man-wol irresistibly charming. She’s hot-headed yet soft, stubborn but compassionate, fickle yet loyal. Man-wol has repeatedly proven that her love of luxuries does not make her completely artificial; she’s quite the opposite. The responsibility that Chan-sung feels to lead her to a proper send-off resembles the responsibility she feels for her resident staff. As capricious and selfish as Man-wol is, I don’t think she could rest easy if Bartender Kim, Seo-hee, and Hyun-joong failed to cross over peacefully. She won’t be as gentle and kind as Chan-sung, but she’ll fulfill her obligations in her own style — with the proper stylish outfit, a dash of annoyance, but with a heart full of compassion.
- Premiere Watch: Watcher, Level Up, Hotel del Luna
- A possibly undead owner and a scaredy-cat hotelier in Hotel del Luna
- IU targets Yeo Jin-gu in new teaser for Hotel del Luna
- Spooking the guest-ghosts away in tvN’s Hotel del Luna
- IU, Yeo Jin-gu take care of spooky guests in Hotel del Luna
- IU, Yeo Jin-gu confirm lead roles in Hong sisters fantasy drama
- IU eyes a new Hong sister project for her comeback