Hotel del Luna: Episode 14
Our heroine is becoming so confused between her ancient vengeance and her newfound feelings that she very nearly makes a mistake that could ruin everything. The only thing that can repair everything that’s gone wrong is the truth, but whether it will fix things, or only make them worse, is anyone’s guess. The only certainty is that time is running out, and even the best possible outcome still means devastating loss for those left behind.
EPISODE 14 RECAP
On the day of his betrayal, Chung-myung had found his men burning the belongings of Man-wol’s now-dead band. He had rescued Yeon-woo’s lute, placing it with the rest of the belongings and adding the moon ornament he’d bought for Man-wol, which was then stained with blood.
He’s spent all these years near Man-wol as an unnoticed firefly, and he finds Chan-sung wandering confused in the tunnel to the afterlife. Man-wol hugs Chan-sung tightly when he emerges, but when he raises his hand to caress her the way he did just before he died, she staggers back and asks, “Who are you?”
Bartender Kim and Seo-hee join them, and Bartender Kim smacks Chan-sung’s arm, which shocks him back to his senses. He apologizes for worrying Man-wol, who’s still glaring at him mistrustfully, and she turns back towards the hotel without a word. Nearby, the firefly flickers dimly.
Man-wol stomps to her office to guzzle champagne straight from the bottle, rattled by the reminder of Chung-myung’s embrace before he died. She drinks again at the memory of Dark Mago telling her that Chan-sung would bring Chung-myung to her, gasping, “It can’t be. Chan-sung can’t be him.”
Mago stands at the entrance to the afterlife tunnel, musing that Man-wol will be severely swayed by a tiny firefly. She notices that the firefly’s light is weak as she gently cradles it in her hand.
Bartender Kim makes Chan-sung a drink, and Seo-hee expresses her relief that Chan-sung made it back safely without losing either time or his memory. Bartender Kim asks if he saw anything strange in the tunnel, but all Chan-sung remembers is something twinkling in the darkness, then waking up outside the tunnel.
Finally Man-wol shows herself, but her expression is wary. Chan-sung explains that he entered the tunnel looking for the living boy, and he reassures Man-wol that he’s fine. Man-wol tentatively places a hand over Chan-sung’s heart, and after a long moment, she opens her eyes and says, “You’re just Gu Chan-sung.”
She asks if he still sees her in his dreams, and Chan-sung admits that he hasn’t told her about his latest dream. He says he saw Chung-myung waiting for her alone by a lake holding a moon-shaped ornament, but Man-wol says she never received such a gift.
Chan-sung asks what that was, if not a dream of her memories. Man-wol reminds him that at first, he thought he was seeing his own memories of a past life, but they agree that that’s not possible. Chan-sung asks if she’s nervous because of the way Seo-hee and Yeon-woo were reincarnated and ended up together. Man-wol says determinedly that she won’t end up like them because that was their past lives, but for her, it all happened in her current life.
The little boy is returned to his father by Yoo-na, who says she found him asleep at a bus stop and took him to the hospital to treat a mild fever. The boy tells his father that he went to the hotel to see his mom, but Yoo-na attributes his story to a dream, and the dad promises to tell his son the truth about his mom when he’s older.
Yoo-na wonders if finding out later that he’ll never see his mother again is less sad, and Hyun-joong feels guilty for not being honest about planning to leave when his sister passes. He starts to tell her, but she interrupts to say that as long as he’s away from the hotel without permission, they may as well have some fun.
She goes to the restroom and on her way back, she spots Hyun-joong’s sister Hyun-mi, now elderly and blind, listening to some music from a phone. Yoo-na tells her that she looks like her friend’s… grandmother, and gets permission to take a picture of her enjoying the music. She asks if Hyun-mi remembers her brother’s name, and she gets excited when Hyun-mi remembers.
The man that Hyun-mi calls her “orabeoni” finds her, and Yoo-na asks if he’s really Ji Hyun-joong, founder of the hospital. He says he is, and that he’s Hyun-mi’s brother, but Yoo-na says that Ji Hyun-joong died a long time ago.
The man seems startled and drops his phone, but before Yoo-na can learn anything else, the real Hyun-joong yanks her away angrily. When the man stands up, he wonders how that girl knows that Ji Hyun-joong is dead.
Outside, Yoo-na asks Hyun-joong if that man has something to do with his death, thinking that he stole Hyun-joong’s identity and that’s why Hyun-joong can’t move on. Hyun-joong orders her to leave it alone since he’s dead and snaps jealously that Yoo-na is living a good life. He immediately regrets it, but Yoo-na admits that she also stole someone’s life and promises to mind her own business.
Chan-sung calls Sanchez, who says that Mi-ra insisted Young-soo stay the night and now all his colleagues are there having an impromptu picnic. Sanchez says that the people and noise are helping him not feel lonely, so Chan-sung doesn’t need to worry about him. He’s even enjoying watching Mi-ra and Young-soo, who seem very happy together when they aren’t fighting.
Looking very concerned, Seo-hee asks Chan-sung if Mi-ra is someone that Man-wol knew from a previous life. She tells Chan-sung that the hotel’s ghostly employees never asked Man-wol’s story because they assumed she didn’t intend to leave after settling her resentment, but now the Moon Tree has flowered because of Chan-sung.
He tells her that she’s right about Mi-ra, and Seo-hee asks if there are any more past connections Man-wol will have to face. Chan-sung says that person is already here, and that he’ll probably bring him to Man-wol like he did the others.
Seo-hee interprets this to mean that Chan-sung also knew Man-wol in a past life, and when he says he hasn’t, she questions why Mago chose him. He doesn’t know, but he vows to stay with Man-wol. Seo-hee pities Man-wol, who will soon be confronted with someone who caused her such great pain.
In front of the Moon Tree, Man-wol tells Mago to admire the flowers, then leave. Mago asks, “Will you let him just pass by? Will you pretend to be clueless?” She tells Man-wol that she can’t run away now that she knows Chung-myung has been by her side all this time.
She gives Man-wol the moon ornament, still stained with blood, that she’s been keeping safe. Man-wol holds the ornament in a shaking hand, remembering that Chan-sung saw Chung-myung holding it. She asks Mago furiously, “Is it Chan-sung? Is Chan-sung that man?!” and Mago asks if she can accept it if it is.
She notes that Man-wol doesn’t seem happy even though the man she’s been waiting a millennium to kill is finally here. Man-wol sighs that that’s why she’s asking, but Mago only advises her to let go of her hatred. Looking betrayed, Man-wol accuses Mago of sending the man she’s hated for a thousand years to her as the man she fell in love with. Mago says she’s curious which man Man-wol will see him as — will she see him as Chung-myung and disappear, or as Chan-sung and be saved?
Shaking with grief and fury, Man-wol wanders the hotel halls until Chan-sung finds her. She can barely look at him, seeing Chung-myung whenever she does, and suddenly the moon ornament transforms into a dagger in her fist. She runs to Chan-sung and stabs him in the heart, and he whispers, “I told you to trust me,” before slumping to the floor.
Man-wol drops the bloody dagger, then realizes that she’s alone. She stands there in shock until Seo-hee comes by, and she tells Seo-hee that she just imagined killing Chan-sung. Seo-hee is certain that Chan-sung isn’t Chung-myung reincarnated, and reminds Man-wol that Chan-sung also said he’s not Chung-myung.
Man-wol agrees that it may not be true, but says she can’t face Chan-sung as long as there’s the slightest chance it is. Seo-hee asks what she’ll do, and Man-wol grips the moon ornament as she vows never to kill Chan-sung, and to think about Mago’s advice to let go of her anger.
When she runs into Chan-sung in her office, he recognizes the moon ornament from his dream. Man-wol tells him it’s the same ornament, and that the blood is from Chung-myung. Finding it disturbing, Chan-sung offers to keep it for Man-wol, but she says, “A moon covered in blood must be destroyed.”
Chan-sung is called away by Reaper, who’s found the vengeful spirit of Ji-won. Chan-sung is relieved that Ji-won hasn’t grown stronger, but he’s taken aback when Reaper asks him to act as bait. He says haughtily that he won’t reveal who recommended him, then looks annoyed when Chan-sung immediately guesses it was Bartender Kim, ha.
Reaper says very seriously that he considers Chan-sung the best among all the human managers of Hotel del Luna, admitting that he’s been here from the start. Chan-sung asks about the hotel’s first guest, but Reaper says he hasn’t guided the first guest to the afterlife yet.
Man-wol sits in the sky bar talking to an image of her old self, saying that Chung-myung must have made the moon ornament and she would have been happy to receive it. Her voice goes hard as she snarls, “That disgusts me about you.” She says that she was going to throw Chung-myung into the fiery pit and make both of them disappear, but since the deities interfered, she fell in love and now she can’t carry out her plan.
Both of their eyes fill with tears as Man-wol says she’ll put her old self into the ornament and throw it away, “And we will cease to exist together.” The past Man-wol never speaks, but her eyes turn into black pits as she morphs into a vengeful spirit.
Man-wol summons Ji-won’s spirit and warns him that Reaper is coming for him. She tells him to eat the moon ornament and become a true vengeful spirit, and Ji-won snatches it eagerly.
Reaper and Chan-sung search the hotel for Ji-won’s spirit, and they find Man-wol still in the sky bar. She tells Chan-sung truthfully that she let Ji-won go after giving him a gift, and that Chan-sung is in danger now. “Gu Chan-sung,” she sneers. “Mago said that you’re him. I need to kill you, but I can’t. I like you too much.”
But she also says she won’t protect him and make a mockery of the thousand years she’s waited to kill Chung-myung. Reaper warns Man-wol that if Ji-won becomes an evil spirit, he’ll grow stronger and she will cease to exist. Man-wol tells Chan-sung that he’s a human that Mago adores, so the Magos will interfere before the spirit gets him. Chan-sung answers, “And you’ll perish,” and she says that she only ended up using him.
The lights go out in the hotel, which clues in the employees that something is wrong with Man-wol. Seo-hee says she’s in the Moon Tree’s garden with the door barricaded, so Chan-sung runs out. Dark Mago bursts into the hotel, making Seo-hee wonder what Man-wol has done this time.
Chan-sung goes to see Herbalist Mago and asks if he’s really Chung-myung. She says that Chung-myung is here with her, indicating the firefly in the jar next to her. Chan-sung remembers the firefly he saw when the hotel was empty, and Herbalist Mago tells him that Chung-myung is the Hotel del Luna’s first guest.
Chan-sung wants to take Chung-myung to Man-wol, but Herbalist Mago says he needs to save Man-wol first, and find the object she gave to the evil spirit. She warns that once the evil spirit makes a move, the consequences will be set in stone.
The man whose wife Ji-won killed was exonerated, but rumors that he cursed his wife to die still make him miserable. Ji-won’s spirit finds him and tells him “Hello,” and not long after, the man is preparing to burn down the warehouse where he works. Chan-sung shows up and punches the man, who suddenly wakes up looking surprised.
Ji-won himself greets Chan-sung, who demands he give back the moon ornament. Ji-won throws Chan-sung into a wall and laughs when he gets up, but Chan-sung says he was just buying time. The moon is emerging from behind a cloud, and Chan-sung asks Ji-won why he thinks Man-wol gave him that moon ornament.
“I told you that she will protect me,” he says confidently, and informs Ji-won that when the moon is fully revealed, Ji-won is doomed for having the ornament. He says that he tried to stop Ji-won from killing himself, but now he’ll end up in the fiery pit.
Ji-won throws the ornament, and when Chan-sung goes after it, Ji-won pins him by the throat. Chan-sung just smiles at something behind Ji-won, and when Ji-won turns, he sees three figures walking towards them. YESSS, it’s Bartender Kim, Hyun-joong, and Seo-hee, looking angry enough to send Ji-won straight to hell.
Seo-hee says she was once a vengeful spirit, and Bartender Kim calls Ji-won a runt compared to their combined 770 years of experience being dead, while Hyun-joong just hisses. They send Chan-sung back to the hotel with the moon ornament, and Ji-won tries to flee like the coward he is. He gets about two steps before Reaper snatches him up, and LOL, Bartender Kim complains that they did all the work but Reaper is taking all the credit.
Meanwhile, Dark Mago confronts Man-wol under the Moon Tree for trying to turn Ji-won into a vengeful spirit. Looking resigned, Man-wol admits that she gave her most wicked thought to the spirit, and she asks for death.
Dark Mago looks prepared to grant Man-wol’s wish, but Chan-sung runs in just in time. He shows Dark Mago the moon ornament and says there’s no reason for Man-wol to die, but Man-wol insists that Dark Mago kill her. Angry now, Chan-sung tells her to go ahead — if she’s going to torment herself, then he’ll become the person she thinks he is.
He puts the moon ornament in her hand and tells her to kill him, and the ornament becomes a dagger again. Chan-sung renews his promise to stay by her even if he has to die for being in her way. They stare into each other’s eyes for a long moment, then Man-wol drops the dagger, which changes to an ornament again.
Chan-sung tells her gently that the man she’s waiting for is here, and that she should hear everything that happened on that last day. “Then, you’ll be able to let go of your resentment.”
Seo-hee leads Ji-won’s spirit through the hotel, telling him that there are some people who want to see him before he goes to his afterlife. She takes him to Room 666, and Ji-won scoffs at the predictability of the room number, but he goes inside.
He finds himself faced with his victims, and one of them asks if he remembers what he said right before killing them. She croons, “Hello… Seol Ji-won,” and Ji-won finally looks afraid. In the hall, Seo-hee can hear his screams, and she muses that they should soundproof the walls, hee.
Later, Chan-sung watches as Man-wol hand-writes an invitation to Hotel del Luna. She hesitates, and Chan-sung takes her other hand, giving her a supportive smile as she finishes. Yoo-na delivers the letter to Young-soo, and tells him to bring Mi-ra, who’s received her own letter.
When they arrive, Seo-hee leads them to the sky bar, where Bartender Kim tells them that he’s been granted permission to give them a taste of one of their past lives. He gives them each a drink that contains a petal from the Moon Tree, and as soon as they drink, they’re transported over a thousand years into the past.
Man-wol can also see the memories, as Princess Song-hwa had found Chung-myung waiting for Man-wol by their lake. She’d said they received a tip that he was allied with the rebels, so she sent soldiers to capture Man-wol’s people. Her father planned to kill Chung-myung, but if he delivered the rebels to her father it would erase his suspicion. Chung-myung had said they were only wandering thieves, but Song-hwa had reminded him that if he died a traitor, his entire family and all of his men would also die.
Young-soo drinks next, and in his memory as Yeon-woo, he loses a fight against Chung-myung. Chung-myung had promised to try and save as many of their people as possible as slaves, but in order to do that, Yeon-woo and the thieves had to be killed as rebels. Chung-myung said he wanted to join hands with them and go to the new country, but he was caught.
He’d promised Yeon-woo to pay with his own life once it was all over. Yeon-woo had demanded, instead, that Chung-myung save Man-wol and live as a traitor.
Flower petals shower down from the Moon Tree as Man-wol tries to process the fact that Chung-myung did what he did because Yeon-woo told him to. Mago joins her and says that Chung-myung has always been here, and was Hotel del Luna’s first guest. Man-wol finally notices the firefly, and she remembers one of the last times she saw Chung-myung.
He’d visited her in prison, and she’d vowed to kill him. He’d replied that to do that, she must stay alive. He’d walked away with difficulty, leaving Man-wol furious but determined to live.
Later, on Song-hwa and Chung-myung’s wedding night, Chung-myung had known before entering the bedchamber that Man-wol was waiting to kill him. He’d thought, “I’ve been waiting for you. I hope you won’t hesitate as you swing your sword at me. If so, I won’t hesitate to throw myself at your sword.”
Mago tells Man-wol that if she says Chung-myung’s name, he’ll show himself. Man-wol tells the firefly to show himself, and for the first time in over a millennium, she says his name: “Go Chung-myung.”
Chung-myung stands in front of her, and Man-wol says she’ll listen to whatever he’s wanted to say, but he says he’ll make no excuses. She says that he promised to protect her in his last moments, yet her words chained him here and stopped him from leaving. She tells Chung-myung that she’s let go of everything, so he can go now.
He says sadly that this is the end for them, and Man-wol nods. She looks down at the moon ornament and her tears fall on it, and it dissolves into red ash just like a vengeful spirit, taking all of Man-wol’s pain and anger and hatred with it.
Mago reaches up to catch the firefly as it falls, too weak to go to the afterlife. She says that if he remains, he’ll cease to exist and won’t have another life. She tells Man-wol to send Chung-myung off as her final punishment in this world.
Later, Man-wol returns to her office, where Chan-sung is waiting for her. She sits next to him and lays her head on his shoulder, and Chan-sung holds her hand as she closes her eyes.
Young-soo and Mi-ra wake in a taxi, and Mi-ra laughs that this is exactly what happened the first time she visited the hotel. Young-soo is oddly silent and blinking back tears, but he says he doesn’t know why he’s crying, so Mi-ra just hugs him.
Back at the hotel, Yoo-na is sad that Hyun-joong isn’t at the desk and guesses that he’s still not willing to make up after their fight. She goes to the mail cubby for Room 502, where she left him a gift because they met on May 2nd, but the cubby is empty.
Hyun-joong pops up behind her, holding up the pocketwatch she got him. Yoo-na tells him the watch is so old that it’s been running since he was alive, teasing that he’s an old man. She tells him not to forget that, even when she looks older than him, and Hyun-joong finally works up the courage to say, “Yoo-na-yah, I’m leaving soon.”
He says that Hyun-mi, his sister, is very sick, and that he’s going with her when she dies. He tells Yoo-na that time can’t run for both the living and the dead, and that he’s been dead a very long time.
Chan-sung accompanies Man-wol to the tunnel to the afterlife, where she plans to take the firefly. She promises Chan-sung that she’ll be back quickly, but he asks nervously, “You are coming back, right?” Man-wol looks him in the eyes and tells him to wait for her, so he lets her go.
One month later.
Chan-sung still faithfully serves the ghostly guests at Hotel del Luna, though Bartender Kim assumes that Man-wol is no longer the hotel’s owner, especially since the Moon Tree has finally dropped the last of its leaves and flowers. Hyun-joong takes this to mean that Man-wol really isn’t coming back, but Chan-sung continues to visit the tunnel entrance, trusting her promise to return but admitting that he’s getting anxious.
Bartender Kim, Seo-hee, and Hyun-joong corner Reaper and demand that he bring Man-wol back, refusing to accept another owner for the hotel. Reaper tells them that it’s up to Man-wol, who may have forgotten Chan-sung if she stepped onto the bridge.
We see Chung-myung walking on the bridge, carrying one of Mago’s white lilies. Man-wol is walking by his side, but she suddenly stops. Chung-myung holds out a hand to her, and Man-wol looks up at him and smiles serenely.
Reaper meets Mago beneath the bare Moon Tree and asks if there will be a new owner for the hotel. Mago says that the Moon Tree owns the hotel, but Reaper replies that it’s dead now.
While waiting for a bus, Chan-sung sees a poster for Man-wol’s favorite Kim Joon-hyun show. It reminds him of all the times they ate together, and of falling in love with her, and he starts to sob as it hits him that she’s not coming back.
Mago tells Reaper that there are still some flowers left — the ones she put on Chan-sung’s chest while he was sleeping, that now live in his heart.
On the bridge to the afterlife, Chan-sung looks at Chung-myung holding out his hand to her, then she turns away from him and starts walking back the way she came.
First of all, I haven’t always gotten into the ghost-of-the-week stories, mostly because the Man-wol and Chan-sung and their friends and employees are so interesting that even when the weekly ghosts were relevant to the larger picture, I just wanted to see more of the characters I’d already bonded with. But I did appreciate how Ji-won’s serial killer/vengeful spirit plot wove through the real world, and then the afterlife, in a really creative way that made narrative sense. He was a horror when he was human, and could have been even worse after he died, which served as a warning to Man-wol of what could happen if she let her anger take over. But the employees of Hotel del Luna were able to give Ji-won a send-off befitting a serial killer — justice at the hands of his victims — and protect Man-wol at the same time.
We finally know exactly what happened in Man-wol’s past, and more importantly, she knows. It’s as we guessed — Chung-myung was forced to kill Man-wol’s people in order to save Man-wol’s life, though I hadn’t guessed that it was at Yeon-woo’s request. Chung-myung didn’t betray Man-wol, and he even planned to run away with her and Yeon-woo, but he was forced to kill his friends to save his family. And Chung-myung actually killed himself, which explains why Man-wol spent all this time wanting to kill him again… she wanted him to die at her hands, even if it cost her her own soul. The greatest tragedy is that both Chung-myung and Yeon-woo loved Man-wol so much that they were willing to give their lives for hers, but instead of living the life they bought for her, she misunderstood and spent over a thousand years hating a man who was only trying to do the right thing.
I didn’t expect to ever feel pity for Man-wol, but now that we know her whole story, I can’t help but feel so sorry for her. She’s waited over a thousand years to take her revenge on Chung-myung, who cheated her of it once before by taking his own life, and she was even willing to risk her soul for the chance. Now she knows that the last thousand years have been wasted on hating a man who only wanted to love her and save her, and that she’s been waiting all this time for him when he was there all along. Yet when the time came, and once she knew the entire story, she was ready to forgive Chung-myung, so ready that they almost didn’t even need words. All they needed was to say goodbye without any lingering bad feelings.
I love the symbolism on this drama and it’s something I really haven’t talked about enough. I was especially moved by the moon ornament covered in Chung-myung’s blood, which represented Man-wol’s heart stained by hatred for all these years. She knew it needs to be destroyed in order to let go of her resentment and anger, but she didn’t know how, and she even used it to make one more desperate try at getting her revenge. But when she finally found forgiveness and her tears caused the ornament to dissolve like a vengeful spirit, instead of Man-wol herself — I’m not going to lie here, I haven’t cried that hard at a drama in years. It was so beautiful to see the ornament burn all of Man-wol’s resentment and hatred away, leaving her soul finally unburdened.
I feel like Man-wol’s trip to the bridge with Chung-myung wasn’t really her final punishment, as Mago claimed, but a test to see what Man-wol would choose when faced with a choice. She could have followed Chung-myung to the afterlife, but she chose to turn back, and my hope is that the choice to return to Chan-sung will buy her the right to live with him as a normal human. I’m scared, though, that she spent so long on the bridge (she’s been gone a month, and the trip across takes 49 days, so she got most of the way before turning back) that she may not even remember Chan-sung when she gets back to the hotel. It may be Chan-sung’s test, to bring her fully back to him.
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