Hotel del Luna: Episode 8
We’ve finally reached the halfway mark and it’s time to answer some of the burning questions regarding Man-wol’s tragic past. The ripples made by those events have followed Man-wol through her thousand year punishment and now the waves threaten to capsize our fragile ship. The question remaining is, to what end have the Fates decided for these souls to reunite?
EPISODE 8 RECAP
We open in the past as the city celebrates. At the palace, Chung-myung and the princess stand in their wedding garb staring up at the floating lanterns released by the citizens. The princess smiles brightly at Chung-myung and though he returns the gesture, he lacks her enthusiasm and his face falls the second he turns away.
Meanwhile, our favorite scarved thief slays the guards mercilessly and arrives at the bridal chamber. The princess excitedly assumes the figure at the door is Chung-myung and her face falls when Man-wol reveals herself. Cold fury burns behind teary eyes as Man-wol notes that Princess Song-hwa looks happy… before drawing her sword.
Man-wol brandishes at Princess Song-hwa’s neck and the princess glowers back, demanding why Man-wol came. “Do you think I came to congratulate your wedding?” Man-wol spits and the princess growls that she shouldn’t have shown Man-wol mercy. Man-wol notes that her smile earlier was beautiful, and that it’s a shame the groom won’t see it again. She declares she’ll greet him in Princess Song-hwa’s place and in one quick movement, slashes her throat.
In the present, Man-wol watches with horror as Princess Song-hwa’s current incarnation, Mi-ra, cheerfully greets Chan-sung and approaches them. Chan-sung apologizes to Man-wol, unsure how Mi-ra knew where he was. “You brought her here,” Man-wol intones, tears escaping her eyes as she realizes this was his true purpose and that the deities never intended to let her pass on peacefully.
Turning her attention back to Mi-ra, Man-wol is infuriated by her smile and kicks up a supernatural wind that knocks Mi-ra into the water. Chan-sung looks at Man-wol in shock and she orders him to go after Mi-ra, coldly stating that’s his job. He rushes over and throws Mi-ra a rope, but when he looks back, Man-wol is gone.
Chan-sung drives Mi-ra back and when they stop at a convenience store, she admits that she came to ruin his date but hadn’t expected to end up soaked. She wonders if Man-wol left because of her, shaking her head when Chan-sung asks if they know each other. Mi-ra pouts that she didn’t mean to be such a nuisance as Chan-sung ponders whether Man-wol was really responsible for the incident.
Mi-ra wonders if she should see a shaman to cleanse her of bad luck and Chan-sung immediately recommends salt and not to be alone, especially at night. Mi-ra laughs that her grandmother says the same things, attributing it to all the bad karma Mi-ra racked up in her past life and brandishes the bracelet she made her wear for protection.
Mi-ra whines that bad spirits are following her and begs Chan-sung to stay with her all night. Chan-sung doesn’t miss a beat saying he works at night and already called her a cab to take her the rest of the way home. Mi-ra tries to argue that she lost her purse, but Chan-sung cuts her off that she can add the taxi bill to the debt she already owes him.
Meanwhile, we see that Mi-ra’s purse isn’t lost after all as Man-wol searches through it on her bus ride home. She finds photos of Mi-ra with children and then the photo Sanchez had of the three of them followed some of just Mi-ra and Chan-sung smiling happily as couples do. “What a cruel twist of fate,” Man-wol mutters, deleting the photo, “Enough is enough, please.”
She chucks the purse on the floor, but her melancholy is broken when she snaps at a group of ghosts partying on the bus to knock it off already. Hee. They pay her no mind so she switches the bus radio to the news and tells them they can continue the party once she’s left the bus. Her eyes snap back open as she listens to the report of a woman that just died after living over 100 years.
That evening, Reaper guides the woman from the news to the afterlife limo only to be foiled by Man-wol appearing to suggest the woman stay to see the birth of her great-grandchild. Reaper argues she’s seen countless births in her family already but the spirit silently walks back inside to join her family. Turning on Man-wol, Reaper demands why she’s interfering with the passing of such a special soul and Man-wol barks that “they” won’t allow her to wander anyway and nods to the house as Mago escorts the spirit back out with a flower.
The women sit together afterwards and Mago guesses that Man-wol did it purposefully to see her. Man-wol sighs that she regrets it… not going to Song-hwa/Mi-ra sooner. Mago says that while Man-wol has been frozen in time, the princess has finally reincarnated as a human after living countless lives. She says their meeting is only due to their connection in the past, and suggests Man-wol just let her pass by.
Her eyes flash as Man-wol demands how she could let it go, but Mago points out that while the past still pangs for her, Mi-ra doesn’t even remember. Man-wol reasons this is why Mago had her cross paths again through Chan-sung… so she wouldn’t harm Mi-ra and would pass on peacefully. With a grim smile, Man-wol promises to return to the hotel and stay there.
Man-wol tells Reaper to allow her to ride along and Mago nods at him to do so. Pausing at the car, Man-wol asks, “Will… he come too?” but Mago only smiles sadly. As they drive away, Mago sighs, “For a flower to blossom, she needs to feel the wind, and face the rain too.”
Back at the hotel, Chan-sung learns from Bartender Kim and Seo-hee that Man-wol has yet to return. Chan-sung says she suddenly got mad and left him, but they wave it off as Man-wol’s signature moodiness, assuming she’s out shopping or eating. Chan-sung argues that she’s out of money but Bartender Kim assures him Man-wol can’t stay away from the hotel — it’ll only follow her if she tries.
Realizing their blunder too late, Seo-hee and Bartender Kim reluctantly tell Chan-sung that Man-wol’s punishment will chase her if she attempts to run from it. Neither able to pass on to the afterlife or walk among the living, Man-wol is trapped at the hotel. Apparently she tried to run many times in the beginning, but it never worked.
Seo-hee:“Ms. Jang is the Moon Tree. The energy of the Moon Tree is creating this space. Wherever she goes, the Moon Tree will put down roots there. And there stands the Guest House of the Moon.”
She adds that when Man-wol stays away for more than a day, the Moon Tree will follow and that’s why she must always return. Chan-sung questions why Man-wol is trapped here and Bartender Kim says he’d heard she nearly became an evil spirit but Mago bound her to the hotel instead. Seo-hee continues that while Man-wol sees it as a prison, the hotel also protects her from that fate.
The bus driver returns Mi-ra’s purse to her and she’s puzzled to find the only thing missing is her childhood photo taken at an amusement park. In her chambers, Man-wol glares at the picture, fuming that Mi-ra looked happy. Hearing footsteps, she steps out to greet Chan-sung, but it’s only Seo-hee. She tells Man-wol Chan-sung was worried and so she revealed why Man-wol is forced to return every night.
Man-wol finds Chan-sung on the roof and admits she’s the one that pushed Mi-ra. Chan-sung simply replies that Mi-ra is fine and Man-wol barks at him for not asking why she did it or reprimanding her. Chan-sung doesn’t know what to think since whatever is keeping Man-wol imprisoned for 1000 years must be bad, but his dreams only showed him a woman in love.
His words render Man-wol silent, but Chan-sung doesn’t seem to notice as he demands where she went after ditching him. Man-wol resumes her prickly facade and bends the truth to say she attended a dance party (on the bus) and attended a feast (the funeral ceremony for the spirit). Chan-sung grumbles that she could’ve brought him along and announces that they should do those things together from now on. Chan-sung vows that whether the hotel is a prison or a protective barrier, he’ll stay with Man-wol.
Elsewhere, rain pours down on a darkened home and a man nervously approaches the record player that started playing on its own. He smashes the record, but as he turns, the music resumes playing. Looking back, the record is back on the player and a young woman (cameo by Park Jin-joo) now sits beside it, greeting him as “Doctor.”
In a childlike voice, she chirps that she’s happy when it rains because they’ll be together. The man tells her he isn’t her doctor, but the young woman begs him to stay with her until the song ends. Sometime later, the man’s wife finds him standing in the dark living room, repeating the song lyrics in a daze. He stops when she calls his name and turns to her before crumpling to the floor.
Chan-sung returns home the following morning to find Mi-ra has invited herself to live with him and Sanchez. She claims that she’ too scared to be alone, shivering that her purse was found on a bus she’d never rode. Unwilling to entertain the supernatural at home, Chan-sung says someone probably found it and forgot it on the bus.
At the hotel, Man-wol and Hyun-joong walk through an in-hotel amusement park. Hyun-joong cheerfully asks when the guest they’re opening it for will arrive and Man-wol darkly replies soon. Meanwhile, Bartender Kim and Seo-hee are scoping out land on Man-wol’s request. They briefly wonder if she’s thinking of relocating the hotel, but wave it off since she’ll be too far from her favorite shops.
Hyun-joong sits with Yoo-na at Subway and fills her in on the new addition to the hotel. She coyly muses about going with her boyfriend and to her annoyance, Hyun-joong congratulates her for dating. She snaps at him for being an idiot and he pouts that he just wants her to be successful in life like Chan-sung’s girlfriend, who’s also eating at Subway.
Yoo-na says Man-wol tasked her with keeping tabs on Mi-ra and Hyun-joong praises his boss for looking after Chan-sung’s friends. Yoo-na sighs that this isn’t a kindness and asks if he could be nice to her boyfriend. Hyun-joong wonders if her boyfriend is mean and Yoo-na barks that he’s the meanest and dumbest boyfriend ever. Hee.
Yoo-na and Hyun-joong follow Mi-ra and her coworker home. Ah, she’s the wife of the man with the record ghost and Yoo-na and Hyun-joong spot the spirit in a window from the street.
Meanwhile, Sanchez tells Chan-sung that he lent Mi-ra an expensive vase… although in reality she’d taken it first and asked later. Chan-sung offers to get it back before she can sell it, but Sanchez assures him that if he doesn’t get it back, he’ll just seize Mi-ra’s salary. He offers Chan-sung a position at a new hotel, but Chan-sung has decided not to leave Hotel del Luna.
Sanchez wonders if there’s a special reason since Hotel del Luna doesn’t seem to match Chan-sung’s qualifications. Chan-sung argues that everything is high class and special and the only downside is not being able to brag. Sanchez breezily says he’d thought it was because Chan-sung had feelings for Man-wol.
Chan-sung nearly does a spit-take and Sanchez grins that he’s right. Chan-sung doesn’t argue, merely grumbles that Sanchez is sharper than he appears. When he leaves to refill Chan-sung’s drink, Mi-ra calls. Before Chan-sung can demand the return of the stolen ceramic, she asks if there’s any vacancy at his hotel.
Yoo-na attempts to get a photo of the ghost in the window, but sadly realizes they don’t show up on her camera. Chan-sung says it’s only possible when they make themselves visible to the living and Yoo-na begs him to do so now and cheerfully takes a photo together. Chan-sung startles them and Hyun-joong sheepishly admits they’d followed Mi-ra.
Before they can answer why, Man-wol appears and declares it was on her orders. Chan-sung assumes Man-wol is the one that put the ghost on Mi-ra and she blows up when he adds that she’s living with him and Sanchez. Man-wol barks that she had nothing to do with this ghost, but would’ve sent 108 after Mi-ra had she known they were cohabitating.
Man-wol relents and the pair go inside. The wife says they’d inherited the house from her husband’s parents and they’ve heard strange noises ever since they moved in. Mi-ra questions why Chan-sung and Man-wol came, and he explains that only those invited by Man-wol can stay at the hotel. The wife snips that they don’t need to stay at an exclusive hotel and Man-wol deadpans that’s fine by her.
Chan-sung rushes to stop Man-wol from leaving, imploring her to take the ghost to the hotel as a favor to a friend of a friend. Man-wol snaps that she doesn’t like his friend nor him for being friends with her but they’re argument is cut off as the record begins to play again. The wife is relieved that Chan-sung hears it too and he tells her their hotel has a special service for this, much to Man-wol’s chagrin.
He and Man-wol go upstairs to investigate and Chan-sung suggests he go in first, since Man-wol might scare the spirit away. She questions whether he’s afraid and Chan-sung smiles that she’s with him. He finds the ghost in the next room and calls out to her. She tearfully addresses him as “Min” and throws her arms around him.
Man-wol enters just then and Chan-sung throws out a hand to stop her from ripping them apart. The pair sit on the couch and Chan-sung tries to question the ghost as Man-wol searches the office for clues. She finds a diary and the ghost, Gyeong-ah, snatches it away. She addresses Man-wol as “Sook-hui” and spits at her for being jealous over “Min.”
Unbothered, Man-wol asks about the letters, instead. Gyeong-ah pointedly ignores her so Chan-sung asks and after resuming her sick act, Gyeong-ah pouts that she’s trapped indoors due to her health and has no friends. She’d sent her sob story to the radio station and the letters are well-wishes from listeners. She suddenly perks up and rushes to the window, saying “Hyuk” is here.
Chan-sung notes that the “doctor,” “Min,” and “Hyuk” all seem to be men that like Gyeong-ah and Man-wol adds that the only villain is “Sook-hui.” Chan-sung offers to continue the charade to bring Gyeong-ah to the hotel but Man-wol sighs that she can’t be a guest there. She removes the needle from the record and Gyeong-ah vanishes.
Man-wol explains that while the diary and radio letters are real, Gyeong-ah is an imaginary spirit created by someone else. She says that if they find the creator, they’ll be able to vanquish Gyeong-ah. Just then, the mother returns home and demands what Chan-sung and Man-wol are doing in her study.
Chan-sung fetches the diary that fell to the floor when Gyeong-ah vanished and the mother sends everyone else downstairs. Once alone, she admits to Chan-sung and Man-wol that she’d created Gyeong-ah to experience romance since she’d had an arranged marriage when she was young. She smiles sadly, but agrees to let Gyeong-ah go so that her son and his wife can live in peace.
As the woman burns the letters and diary, Chan-sung remarks that even if it wasn’t real, Gyeong-ah must’ve made marriage to a man she didn’t love easier. Man-wol’s expression is thoughtful as she agrees that changing one’s reality with an imaginary spirit is a good idea. She tells Chan-sung to accept the woman’s dinner invitation as she’s probably feeling lonely, but as “Sook-hui” is a villain, Man-wol decides to leave.
After she’s gone, the wife thanks Chan-sung for inviting them to the hotel, revealing to his alarm that Man-wol extended one to Mi-ra as well. At the same time, Mi-ra steps up to Hotel del Luna, marveling at its splendor. She’s guided to Man-wol, who’s waiting for her at the amusement park. Man-wol greets her with chilling politeness, adding that she couldn’t just let Mi-ra pass her by.
Mi-ra laughs awkwardly and praises the hotel, wondering why it’s empty. Man-wol clarifies that it isn’t — Mi-ra just can’t see anything because of the bracelet on her her wrist. She adds that Mi-ra hadn’t heard the music at the house either. Mi-ra asks if she’ll see things if she takes it off. With a noncommittal shrug, Man-wol holds out her hand and Mi-ra places the bracelet inside.
Closing her fist around it, Man-wol dissolves the bracelet into gold dust and Mi-ra grins at the amusement performers that appear. She sounds dazed as she tells Man-wol that she loves amusement parks and identifies the photo Man-wol holds out as one she’d taken with her parents and younger sister.
Man-wol shows her their spiritual copies and Mi-ra smiles happily. Man-wol’s false smile slips as she says she hates seeing Mi-ra happy… so she plans to breathe sadness into her. Everything suddenly goes black and when the lights return, the copy of young Mi-ra stands alone, looking glumly back at them.
Man-wol approaches the child and tells her that she doesn’t have a happy family and that her mother often told her she regretted giving birth to her while her father cursed at her. Man-wol continues that they only loved her sister and the day at the amusement park, they’d left Mi-ra all alone. Tears fall from the adult Mi-ra’s eyes as Man-wol sends the child to her with the mission to fill Mi-ra’s days with the sorrowful memories of a child that should’ve never been born.
The child stands before Mi-ra, eyes black, and stretches out her hands while Man-wol looks on with dark amusement. Chan-sung bursts inside and Man-wol thanks him for allowing her the chance to relieve her grudge a little. Her tone is severe as she warns that this is much stronger than the false spirit from earlier… it’s a curse.
Mi-ra shakily starts to reach out to the child as Chan-sung implores Man-wol to stop. She coldly tells him to run, promising to let him go. To her surprise, Chan-sung refuses and instead tells her to protect him as he walks over and pulls the child into a hug before Mi-ra can touch her. Mi-ra faints and Man-wol orders him to release the child, but it’s too late and she dissolves, absorbing into his chest.
Chan-sung collapses as his vow to stay with Man-wol replays in her ears. A tear trickles down her cheek as Chan-sung faints and his answer to her question about whether he was scared echoes, “I have you.”
Mi-ra wakes up in the back of a taxi. From the front seat, Yoo-na explains that Man-wol ordered her to escort Mi-ra home because she’s drunk. Inside, Man-wol sits on the couch with an unconscious Chan-sung and burns the amusement park photo. She tells his sleeping form that everything will be okay now — he ruined everything.
In his dreams, Man-wol sits with Chung-myung at her drinking spot and tells him this is the last time because she’s leaving. He asks if she’s joining the rebellion and Man-wol says it’s better than dying as a thief. Chung-myung promises to protect her if she comes to the palace and although it gives Man-wol pause, she refuses to abandon her people.
Chung-myung offers to go with her instead, but Man-wol says there’s no way they can be together. Her words cut and Chung-myung releases her, sadly agreeing she’s right. “You were a great drinking buddy,” he says, scooping up one of the jugs on the beach, ” so I’ll miss you.” When Man-wol turns around, he’s gone.
The next morning, she finds the jug hanging from her tree. Realizing Chung-myung must’ve been there, Man-wol asks Yeon-woo if she can meet him one last time before they leave. Yeon-woo asks if she’ll be back. He assures her he’ll be fine either way, urging her to do as she desires, but Man-wol promises to return.
She arrives at her drinking spot, but finds it empty. Brightening when she hears horse hooves, she turns but is met with swords as guards surround her. Princess Song-hwa approaches and sneers, “All your people will die because of you.” At the same time, more guards are slaughtering Man-wol’s band of thieves. Yeon-woo fights but falls back when Chung-myung leaps in front to hold him at sword point. Nooo!!!! Say it isn’t so!
Afterwards, Chung-myung visits Man-wol in the dungeon. He coldly thanks her for leading him to the criminals and offers to spare her for her help. She vows to kill him and Chung-myung says that to do so, she’ll have to stay alive. That evening, the remaining party waits to be hanged. Yeon-woo stands on the platform and stares down at a defeated Man-wol.
When she finally looks up at him, Yeon-woo smiles and a tear trickles down Man-wol’s cheek. The guards kick out the pedestal and Man-wol screams for him, trying to reach the platform as guards yank her back. Yeon-woo dies and afterwards Man-wol is dragged out before Princess Song-hwa who declares that she’ll spare Man-wol since she “aided” in the capture of her comrades. Man-wol can do nothing but glare and Chung-myung looks back with the same restrained expression.
As we know, Man-wol went on to kill the princess and don her wedding robes to wait for Chung-myung. When he walks into the chamber, she yanks the veil away and glares up at him as she reaches for her sword. Chung-myung neither looks surprised, nor moves to draw his own sword as Man-wol lunges for him.
We don’t see what happens and Chan-sung jolts awake in his own bed. Sanchez comes into his room to say Man-wol brought him home and he’s been unconscious for 3 days straight. Additionally, she’d left the Baekdu Mountain painting for him. Alarmed, Chan-sung leaps out of bed and rushes over to the hotel… but only an empty building remains. Recalling that the hotel moves with Man-wol, he realizes she’s gone.
Flashing back to the night of the curse, Man-wol had told the sleeping Chan-sung that the hotel was neither a prison nor a fence to her… merely torture. “It’s not that wonderful… to be tortured together,” she’d whispered sadly as she caressed his cheek, “Goodbye. Chan-sung.”
I’m back, and what an episode to return for! We finally got the answers to some burning questions and yet, some things were left deliciously ambiguous. There’s no doubt in my mind now that Chan-sung is Chung-myung, but now that we have the rest of Man-wol’s story, I can see why she wasn’t happy to see him. From her perspective, their love was extremely painful and the events leading up to the end of their original story painted Chung-myung in a really bad light.
However, I don’t think he betrayed her. At least, not in the way he let her believe. I’d wager that Princess Song-hwa found out about his feelings for Man-wol and used that against him to get what she’d always wanted… him. It’s infuriating that all this sorrow and bloodshed stemmed from petty jealousy over a man, but if her current incarnation is anything to go by, Song-hwa always got her way and the fact that Chung-myung loved a common thief would’ve been a major affront. I think the marriage and Man-wol’s undying hatred was the price he was willing to pay to spare her life. Alas, in trying to save her, Chung-myung hurt her more deeply and inadvertently had a hand in her thousand years of suffering.
With the past seemingly revealed, the focus now shifts to the future. Man-wol’s plan to release her wrath on Mi-ra was foiled and although I feel she’s completely justified after seeing what went down, I’m glad Chan-sung stopped her… and not because he was worried about Mi-ra, but rather Man-wol’s eternal soul. He may not have known the extent of Man-wol’s wounds, but he did know that cursing Mi-ra would only hurt Man-wol more in the end. It was the most satisfying resolution for him to sacrifice himself by putting all his trust in her and it’s bittersweet that in doing so, Man-wol was able to finally let the past go.
That’s not to say her guilt and pain are gone. We’re only at the halfway marker, after all! But I do think she’s taken a big step forward. I’m super excited to see where things go now that Man-wol has released Chan-sung. Should he so choose, he can live a normal life now… but it doesn’t seem like he wants that anymore.
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