Hotel del Luna: Episode 13
With the flowers of the Moon Tree gradually falling, the hotel staff begin to prepare themselves for their departures. For our vengeful spirits, punishment for wrongs commited seems to be the accepted understanding of justice, but our guest manager Seo-hee learns that this revenge isn’t as easy as she imagined. Time may have calloused our spirits, but the pain and sorrow from their grudges feel as raw as ever. And when they’re reminded of this pain and embraced with kindness, they may think twice about inflicting damage.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
In the hotel lobby, Seo-hee finds Hyun-joong smiling at his phone as he messages Yoo-na, and she asks if Yoo-na knows about his plans to accompany his younger sister into the afterlife. He responds that Yoo-na only knows that he’s waiting for his sister, and Seo-hee doesn’t ask any further.
A guest enters the hotel, and Seo-hee’s expression hardens in recognition. As Hyun-joong greets him, Seo-hee interrupts and leads him into the hotel. In the elevator, Seo-hee confirms that the guest is Yoon Seung-beom, the eldest grandson of the Myungjoo Yoon family line, age 42. She then confirms that he never married and smiles vindictively, saying that it’s a pity that the family won’t have an heir to carry on the family name.
Bartender Kim spots Seo-hee dressed in a fancy black mourning outfit and likens her to Man-wol. Seo-hee informs him that her grudge will be resolved soon, as the last son of the Yoon family has died. She’s heading to the funeral.
Bartender Kim warns her not repeat her actions from 42 years ago, and she assures him that these are different circumstances. Unlike the anger she felt 42 years ago, she feels happy as she’s heading to her in-law family’s home.
Chan-sung and Man-wol wait for Sanchez to come home so that Man-wol can apologize for being callous about Veronica’s passing. Chan-sung orders her to assure Sanchez that she escorted Veronica to the bridge to the afterlife. Man-wol scoffs that she couldn’t have escorted Veronica to the bridge because she’s never been there. Once you step foot on the bridge, you can never return.
Man-wol says that she could assure Sanchez that Veronica is well on her way across the bridge, and Chan-sung wonders how long this bridge is for Veronica to still be walking across it. Man-wol explains that time flows differently in the living world and the afterworld. The short time it takes for the spirits to cross equates to 49 days in the living world.
As the spirits walk across the bridge, their memories from the living world gradually disappear. It’s not that the spirits can’t return to the living world — they don’t return because they’ve lost their memories. Chan-sung comments that it’s a lonesome thought for those who are left behind, and Man-wol promises one thing: “I’ve been here for 1,300 years. If I cross that bridge, I’ll erase many memories, but I’ll keep your memories until the end.”
With mixed emotions, Chan-sung trusts Man-wol to keep her promise and asks how she’ll remember him. Man-wol says that she’ll remember all the instances that he feared for her fate as a reincarnated pig or dog — selling all her cars, disallowing the yacht purchase, taking all her credit cards. She shakes her head at all the aggravating memories, but Chan-sung proudly acknowledges his accomplishments.
Man-wol wags her finger and says that she’ll probably remember his arrogance until the very end, predicting that she’ll remember “Harvard” instead of “Gu Chan-sung.” Haa. Then, Man-wol notices her belonging on her desk, marked with her signature slashed circle. Chan-sung jokes that he may have stolen some other things and tells her look around, and while she looks away, he draws something on his hand.
When Man-wol turns to him, he shows her signature mark on his hand and adorably says that he belongs to her. They smile at each other, and Chan-sung requests that she also remember these moments with him. Man-wol reaches out and interlaces her fingers with Chan-sung’s outstretched hand.
As they head out to meet with Sanchez, Chan-sung receives a call from Hyun-joong. They return to the hotel, and Hyun-joong reveals that the guest is the last son of Seo-hee’s in-law family line. Hyun-joong worries that Seo-hee will commit a similar deed to 42 years ago, and Chan-sung asks what happened then.
We finally learn about the mystery incident from 42 years ago, in which Seo-hee almost crumbled to dust as a demon spirit. A shaman told the in-law family that the burial mound of Seo-hee’s daughter must be removed for the family line to propagate, and the family heeded to this warning. Indignant Seo-hee began to retaliate, almost killing the perpetrators, but Reaper appeared and stopped her.
Hyun-joong says that Seo-hee would have been dragged into the afterlife by Mago if it weren’t for Man-wol and Reaper negotiating Seo-hee’s stay at the hotel. Man-wol trusts that Seo-hee won’t blow this moment, 200 years in the making, and Hyun-joong realizes that Seo-hee will probably leave soon.
Seo-hee looks satisfied as she witnesses the wake, and she tells Bartender Kim that she’ll be crossing over to the afterlife soon. But an unexpected guest appears at the wake — a pregnant woman, who claims that the child belongs to the dead man. Seo-hee freezes in shock as she sees her nightmare unfolding once again.
When Seo-hee and Bartender Kim return to the hotel, everyone nervously waits to hear what happened. Dejected Seo-hee walks away, and Bartender Kim explains that the unmarried man left an heir to the Yoon family name. Seo-hee remembers desperately knocking on her in-laws’ door, begging them to help save her baby daughter. But the in-laws refused to open the door and forbade her from saving this child.
Bartender Kim serves Man-wol at the bar and identifies the man at the end of the bar as the Seo-hee’s almost-ticket to the afterlife. The parents had forced Yoon Seung-beom to break up with his lover, but they had a child out of wedlock. He asks Man-wol if she can stop the flowers from falling, since Seo-hee seems especially anxious about avenging her child’s death.
Chan-sung finds Seo-hee and says that he worried that she would get hurt. When she looks up, she’s alarmed to see Chan-sung in the tiger-print suit. Seo-hee laughs and tells him to change out of this strange and funny outfit. Chan-sung wonders if he should wear this when he escorts guests to the afterlife to make them laugh, but Seo-hee forbids it, as it will ruin their hotel brand. Ha!
Man-wol and Bartender Kim watch them head off to escort a guest to their ride to the afterlife, and Bartender Kim notes how Chan-sung thoughtfully distracted Seo-hee from her worries, and Man-wol smiles in endearment. Bartender Kim tells Man-wol that Chan-sung rejected the offer to date CEO Wang’s granddaughter because he already has a lover, and he says this lover must be happy.
Man-wol confirms that she’s happy, and Bartender Kim wonders why she would be happy. Then, it hits him, and Man-wol warns him not to introduce her man as a potential suitor again. She answers his previous question about making the flowers stop falling and says that she can’t, maybe because she likes Chan-sung too much.
Bartender Kim notes the poetry in blossoms falling upon love and offers a glass of his signature drink, “Tears.” Man-wol rejects this offer, saying that the drink tastes really bad. That ruins the moment, and Bartender Kim wonders how someone who’s consistently rude had a change of heart.
Man-wol tries to snap a picture of Chan-sung in the tiger-print suit, but he’s already changed out of it. She jokes that she’ll get a zebra-print one for him next time (ha, yes please!) and then commends him for momentarily easing Seo-hee’s concerns with this suit. Chan-sung admits that he forgot that Seo-hee is also a guest who needs the comfort that they provide to all the other guests.
Chan-sung asks if Seo-hee’s 200-year old grudge can turn into a curse, and Man-wol explains that all actions have consequences. For inflicting a deep grudge on Seo-hee, the family has been cursed with misfortune, even after 200 years. Man-wol says that time means nothing to spirits, and her eyes turn sad as she says that spirits can exist with their grudges for 1000 years.
We see the lingering spirits — Seo-hee, Bartender Kim, Hyun-joong, and the firefly on the tree (Chung-myung) — and Man-wol says, “Waiting a long time, tied down by unresolved grudge, may also be a curse.” Man-wol asks Chan-sung to be the tiger, like he was for Seo-hee, when Chung-myung appears, and Chan-sung assures her that he’ll do anything for her. He shows the seal on his palm as a reminder that he belongs to her.
Man-wol then suggests that they go eat the tiger’s favorite food: galbitang (which was formerly patjuk, according to Man-wol). She prepares the tiger jacket for Chan-sung to wear, and when he rejects this, Man-wol threatens to strip him of all his clothes.
Chan-sung shrugs off the threat and boldly claims that she won’t be able to handle him without clothes. Naughty! As Chan-sung packs up to meet with Sanchez at home, Man-wol caves in embarrassment at the thought of bare Chan-sung.
Bartender Kim look up at the love-blossomed tree, and Hyun-joong stays positive that the flowers won’t fall so quickly, since it took over 1000 years for them to bloom. Then, he notices the firefly, and Bartender Kim says that he started noticing it when the tree began to change. Hyun-joong wonders if this is the bug spirit that Chan-sung was talking about and why the firefly is alone.
We see that the firefly was around when the tree began to change but also long before this time. Firefly Chung-myung lingered with Man-wol through all phases of the hotel, and we hear Mago lamenting about how he stayed by Man-wol’s side for all these years, unable to show his true self.
But it seems like Mago is stirring up something for Man-wol to finally notice this firefly at her side. Lovely Mago knits and wonders if Man-wol will listen to Chung-myung, now that the flowers have bloomed. She comments how it’s hard to untangle twisted stitches and focuses on knitting them correctly this time, obviously referring to fates and not yarn.
Man-wol finds an excuse to visit a pharmacy, and Chan-sung knows that she’s intentionally there to see the pregnant woman, the carrier of the Yoon legacy. Man-wol says that eliminating the child will resolve Seo-hee’s grudge, but Chan-sung has his doubts. When the pregnant woman holds her stomach in pain, Chan-sung heads over to help her despite Man-wol insistence that the pregnant woman is the enemy.
In the parking lot, Man-wol finds a double-parked car and kicks in out of annoyance. The owner runs over and apologizes, and Man-wol recognizes her immediately, calling her unni. To Chan-sung (and the rest of us), it’s just Mago, but we learn that this is the god of wealth. Man-wol excitedly greets her unni, who’s on her way to lend her wealth powers to a new computer start-up.
Man-wol introduces Chan-sung to Rich Mago and orders him to quickly grab her outstretched hand because it’s full of wealthy fortune. Rich Mago tells Chan-sung to take good care of the guests, especially the first guest, and goes on her way. After Rich Mago leaves, Chan-sung criticizes Man-wol’s discrimination of titles — unni for the rich, oppa for the good-looking. She offers to call Chan-sung unni, since he’ll become rich after his encounter with Rich Mago. Heh.
Reaper tells Bartender Kim that there’s a guest that Man-wol and the staff don’t know about. In a roundabout way, he says, “A being that doesn’t reveal its existence still exists, but we must leave it to exist in its desired way of nonexistence.” Bartender Kim interprets this gibberish as Reaper having no idea about this unknown guest.
Bartender Kim then asks about the evil murderous spirit (Ji-won), and Reaper says that he’s been difficult to track down. Reaper offers a limousine ride to the afterlife for the murdered spirits, since he expects the chase to last long. He explains that evil spirits jump from darkness to darkness, hiding in darkness that isn’t a shadow cast by light.
We see Ji-won hiding in the darkness surrounding Yoo-na, Mi-ra, and Sanchez. As Sanchez looks at photos of Veronica on his phone, Ji-won turns on the gas stove in the kitchen. Sanchez returns to kitchen to retrieve the engagement ring and drops it when Ji-won startles him with a whisper in his ear, “Hello, Sanchez.” Sanchez tries to reach for the ring under the stove and a call from Veronica (?) saves him from the boiling water spill.
Reapers just misses Ji-won and reports Ji-won’s movements to Man-wol. While Man-wol and Hyun-joong have been keeping watch of Chan-sung and Yoo-na, the evil spirit has been targeting others. Man-wol appears in Sanchez’s room to offer lights and incense to keep the evil spirit away, and Sanchez realizes that his injury from the boiling water wasn’t an accident.
Sanchez thanks Man-wol, but Man-wol apologizes. She acknowledges that she spoke too harshly about Veronica’s death, and Sanchez admits that he didn’t actually believe that his pizza could be delivered to Veronica at the hotel. He just wanted to find solace.
Sanchez says that he’ll need to share the incense with Mi-ra, which reminds Man-wol of her existence. She asks if Mi-ra also knew Ji-won, and Sanchez confirms this. Thinking that Man-wol is wary of ex-girlfriend Mi-ra, Sanchez assures Man-wol that Mi-ra has a boyfriend, and she’s out to see a movie with him now. Man-wol notes that the theater will be very dark, but she shrugs that this isn’t her problem.
When Man-wol returns to the hotel, she smiles that things may figure themselves out without her involvement, but she guiltily looks for a distraction when she sees Chan-sung walking down the hall. He asks where she’s been, and she shares that she went to apologize to Sanchez. Chan-sung commends her for becoming kinder, but Man-wol defensively says that he can’t change who she is at rock bottom.
At the pharmacy, the pregnant woman falls and painfully grabs her stomach. There’s blood on the floor, and the ghost of Yoon Seung-beom panics as he watches his girlfriend cower in pain. He rushes to the hotel and asks for Seo-hee’s assistance. Seo-hee tells the guest to wait in his room, and she promises to ask Chan-sung for help.
Seo-hee smiles in vengeance, and she’s caught by Man-wol around the corner. She asserts that she won’t relay the request to Chan-sung, and Man-wol doesn’t intend on getting in Seo-hee’s way. Instead, Man-wol offers to take Seo-hee to the pregnant woman so that Seo-hee can witness the end of the Yoon family line. Man-wol says that someone told her that this wouldn’t resolve the grudge, and she wants Seo-hee to prove this theory wrong.
When Seo-hee sees the weak pregnant woman on the ground, she seems satisfied by this justice. But then, she hears the woman desperately mumbling, “My child…” Seo-hee remembers repeating those same words as she rocked her dying baby in her arms. Shaken by the resemblance, she turns to Man-wol and asks that they call Chan-sung for help. Man-wol looks surprised.
The woman is taken to the hospital, and Chan-sung tells Seo-hee that the baby and mother are alive. Seo-hee shares her full story with Chan-sung: She became pregnant at a late age and gave birth to a daughter. Her husband took in another woman to have a son, and she was ordered to leave her daughter to go pray at a temple for this new child to be a son.
Then, a shaman told the family that the daughter must be eliminated for their family to bear a son, so the in-laws abandoned the child in a shed for days. By the time Seo-hee returned, the neglected baby was nearly dead. She begged for help, but the in-laws refused to open their doors. Seo-hee lost her mind and wandered the streets with the dead child in her arms.
With all the hearsay on the streets, the husband stripped Seo-hee the dead child from her and had her killed. With a knife in her back, Seo-hee fell to her knees and vowed to see the Yoon family line dry, even in death. Back in the present, Seo-hee weeps that she couldn’t see this through.
At the movie theater, Mi-ra eagerly waits for Young-soo, but she’s disappointed when he says he’ll be even later. She angrily shuts off her phone, and the theater lights go dark. In the darkness, Ji-won appears and watches his new target.
Man-wol tells Chan-sung that he was right about Seo-hee and lets him in on her intuition that Mi-ra may be in danger. They rush to the movie theater, but Chan-sung can’t reach Mi-ra over the phone. He knows that Man-wol didn’t tell him earlier because she wanted to see Mi-ra get hurt, and he presumes that she changed her mind after seeing Seo-hee waver. She admits that she had a tiny change of heart.
Then, Mi-ra appears in the hallway, much to Chan-sung’s relief and Man-wol’s annoyance. Mi-ra decided to ditch the movie because she was mortified to watch alone and some pervert kept whispering “Hello,” from behind. That’s the sign of Ji-won, and Chan-sung worries that Young-soo showed up late.
In the theater, Young-soo walks down the steps in darkness looking for Mi-ra. Then, he senses something behind him and slowly turns to find demon Ji-won right behind him. Shocked by this sight, he rolls down the steps.
When Chan-sung and Man-wol arrive, they spot Ji-won at the bottom of the theater. Man-wol vanishes and tries to attack Ji-won, but he disappears just as she lunges at him. Ji-won appears as a shadow on the movie screen and revels in this fun chase. Then, the lights turn on, and they find Young-soo laying limp on the ground. Man-wol calls out to Yeon-woo, but Mi-ra gets to him first, holding Young-soo tightly in concern.
Mi-ra ices Young-soo’s injuries, and he assures her that he’s fine. He thanks Sanchez for letting him rest and tries to get up to leave, but Mi-ra pushes him back down. She says that Chan-sung’s room is the cleanest place in the house (Sanchez: “Your room is just a mess.”) and tells him to stay there to recover. She tries to check if he’s injured anywhere else and orders Sanchez to get more ice.
Man-wol stares at the blossomed tree and recalls her conversation with Chan-sung at the theater. She asked how Yeon-woo and Song-hwa are together, and Chan-sung corrected her that it’s Park Young-soo and Lee Mi-ra now. He explains that they’re a couple now and that he met Yeon-woo through Mi-ra. He decided not to tell Man-wol everything because it would complicate things — seeing someone she despises and someone she cherishes together as lovers.
Looking at the tree, she reflects on Mago’s advice to let these fates pass by, as these are lost memories for the reincarnated. Chan-sung finds Man-wol grappling with her conflicting emotions — of seeing Young-soo and Mi-ra together and about Seo-hee refusing to let her enemy bloodline die. Chan-sung asks if Man-wol killed Chung-myung, and she confirms that he died, not that she killed him.
In a flashback, we see that Man-wol and Chung-myung engaged in a charged sword fight. Man-wol knocked the sword out of Chung-myung’s hand and sliced his back. With the sword at his throat, Man-wol says that she came to fulfill her promise to kill him. He notices the engraving of her name on the sword and asks if Yeon-woo carved it. He sadly recalls how Yeon-woo was skilled with his hands and accepts Yeon-woo’s share in the fate of this sword at his neck.
With tearful eyes full of anger, Man-wol condemns Chung-myung to a slow and painful death after he watches many more die because of him. He asks if there is anything left between them and trembles as he confesses that it’s nice to see her again. Man-wol wavers, and he says that he missed her.
Then, Chung-myung grabs the sword and pierces himself as he pulls Man-wol into an embrace. Ahh! Man-wol cries in shock, and Chung-myung barely reaches his hand up to stroke her hair. He says that this is their last encounter.
Man-wol screams and pulls the sword out of Chung-myung’s body. He falls to the ground and nears death as he coughs up blood. Man-wol vows to kill all of Chung-myung’s people and set the palace aflame, and she forbids Chung-myung from dying before he sees it all.
With his last breath, Chung-myung says, “Man-wol. I will carry you with me and become a restless moon, watching over you.” Then, his body goes limp, and Man-wol cries in heartbreak and mourning under the full moon.
Man-wol narrates that she set the palace on fire after killing Chung-myung and was obsessed with revenge, killing the enemies in her path. She carried the articles belonging to her people who died, and she sought the Moon Lodge. When she found the lodge, she finally saw herself, stained with blood.
She unveils her rock bottom to Chan-sung, admitting that her sins weigh heavy and her resentment runs deep. Man-wol says that she intended on returning to this rock bottom when she encountered Chung-myung, resigned to her fate as a disintegrating evil spirit. Chan-sung says that he can’t make her pain disappear, but he wants to bring her up from this rock bottom. He pulls her into a warm embrace, comforting her about her past.
A young boy waits at the bus station with a drawn picture in his hand. He asks the bus driver if he knows of Hotel del Luna in Myeongdong and says that his mother is there now. Huh, curious.
Bartender Kim runs to the car, where Seo-hee looks like she’s just about to board the car to the afterlife. He’s sad that she didn’t say her proper farewells before going, but she corrects him that she doesn’t intend on leaving yet. She was simply cleaning the car, per Reaper’s request. Haha! Seo-hee says that she’s waiting to see if the child is a son or daughter, and she asks Bartender Kim to make her a strong glass of Tears. Then, she asks if those are tears in his eyes, and he denies this.
At the front desk, Yoo-na tells Hyun-joong that she left a gift for him in one of the mailboxes. She gives him a hint that it’s the day they met, and Hyun-joong struggles to remember. Preoccupied in their lovers’ quarrel, they fail to catch the young boy entering and riding up the elevator.
Seo-hee and Bartender Kim spot the young boy in the lobby and note that young children rarely appear the hotel alone. Seo-hee approaches the boy, who tells her that he’s there to see his mother, and when she strokes his hair, she realizes that he’s alive. What’s a living boy doing at this hotel?
The boy explains to Bartender Kim that his mother appeared in his dream and told him that she’s staying at Hotel del Luna, and Bartender Kim notes this unfortunate side effect of the dream service. Seo-hee retrieves Chan-sung to escort this boy home, but they can’t find him in the lobby. Bartender Kim left the boy to go fetch him ice cream, and the boy disappeared in that window.
They search the hotel from the boy, and Chan-sung learns from a guest that the boy was heading toward the afterworld platform. Chan-sung runs there and sees the car passing through the tunnel. After a moment of hesitation, he decides to run through the tunnel, toward the Samdo River (aka the Sanzu or Styx River). Uh-oh. Chan-sung runs through the seemingly endless tunnel, and he wonders if he’s gotten stuck there.
Seo-hee reports this missing living child to Man-wol, and she angrily marches to the lobby. Fortunately, Bartender Kim found the boy wandering around the platform, and the boy tells them that he saw Chan-sung running into the tunnel. Bartender Kim worries that a living person could never return if they got stuck, and Man-wol urgently runs to the platform.
In the tunnel, Chan-sung breathes heavily and grows lightheaded. He just barely makes out the blinking light of the firefly that flies toward him, and his vision blurs as the firefly makes out the outline of a person.
Man-wol runs to the tunnel entrance with immense concern and steps toward the tunnel, but she stops in her tracks when she sees someone approaching from the other end. It’s Chan-sung, and Man-wol rushes to hug him tight when he exits the tunnel. Chan-sung stands stiffly as Man-wol holds him in relief.
Then, Chan-sung lifts his hand, as Chung-myung once did, to stroke her hair. Man-wol recognizes this touch, and she pulls away in suspicion. She steps back and looks at Chan-sung with a piercing stare. She asks, “Who are you?”
After all that foreshadowing, we finally get Chung-myung, but it was quite the movie to get there. This whole episode felt like a looong drumroll leading to this final moment, and despite the length of this episode that lent itself to meandering, I liked how the pieces came together at the end. The firefly, the hotel’s first guest, Man-wol’s “moon” watching over her, Chung-myung. All the hints make sense, and it’s fitting that Chan-sung is the host of this reunion. Like Mago predicted (or planned), Chan-sung brought Chung-myung to Man-wol, and I think she’s in a place where this reunion won’t trigger her instinctual response to retaliate. A tiny change of heart is huge deal for a stubborn 1000-year old spirit, and I trust that Chan-sung’s determination to save her from becoming a pig did some damage on her darkness.
I’m generally a fan of shorter episodes, and I think this episode could have been benefitted from better story editing for the sake of length and clarity. With all the grudges — Seo-hee’s revenge, Ji-won’s evil attacks, the reveal of Mi-ra and Young-soo — merging in this episode, I think the story got a bit jumbled. I feel the same way about storylines as Lovely Mago does about yarn (read: fates) — it’s difficult to unravel tangled yarn, so you better thread them well.
Evil demon Ji-won feels like a distraction from the better parts of the story, so I’m glad that the show treats it as a minor obstacle at this point. I prefer exploring the tender moments of sadness and solace between Man-wol and Chan-sung. Now that they’ve accepted their inevitable end, I think they actively cherish every moment they have with each other. It seems like they’re bracing for a farewell in any moment, finding joy in each other’s company but immediately realizing how fleeting these moments are compared to the impending heartbreak. I’m drawn to this poignance, and I love seeing IU and Yeo Jin-gu portray these touching moments.
I really loved the last scene, which highlighted all the parallels with Chung-myung’s last moments: the familiar placing of the hand, the dripping water reflecting the dripping blood from Man-wol’s sword, the inexplicable sorrow. I’m not sure what Man-wol’s initial retaliation plans were for when she encountered Chung-myung. Was she hoping to kill the reincarnated version of him? Mistreat him when he came to the hotel as a guest? To Man-wol, the resolution was always planned to be violent, an unforgivable act that would condemn her to incinerate as a demon. Even if Chan-sung wasn’t the host, I don’t she’d have the heart to inflict any damage now. Through Seo-hee, she’s seen that the eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth revenge won’t resolve anything. It’s something else, a deeper source of her anger and sorrow, that she’ll need to confront. And I think she’s ready.
- Premiere Watch: Watcher, Level Up, Hotel del Luna
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- 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
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