Hotel del Luna: Episode 9
Everything gets a lot more complicated when feelings are involved, though only one of our star-crossed pair is willing to admit it. He’s unwilling to be tossed aside, not even for his own good, even if it means making a nuisance of himself. But as the past starts to catch up to them, a new threat arises, one that’s much scarier than any ghost or vengeful spirit.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
After stopping Man-wol from cursing Mi-ra, Chan-sung wakes to find Hotel del Luna, Man-wol, and all its occupants gone. He asks a little girl if she can see the building and she nods, but her parents act like it’s the first time they’ve noticed it there.
Man-wol isn’t far — she and Bartender Kim watch Chan-sung from across the street. Bartender Kim says that Chan-sung must just be the ninety-nineth human employee to her, but Man-wol admits that he’s special and says she’s trying not to let her heart weaken.
The devolve into bickering over why Bartender Kim is still hanging around after five hundreds years. He says he still has shame to clear up before he can face his ancestors, but Man-wol scoffs that they’ve all probably reincarnated several times over by now. Bartender Kim asks if Man-wol is willing to give up her chance at the afterlife through Chan-sung, and she says she won’t give it up easily.
Bartender Kim reports that the guests who were ready were sent on to the afterlife, though there was some confusion due to the hotel’s sudden move. The coffee ghost had been conflicted since he still hasn’t finished his novel. Seo-hee told Bartender Kim that his problem wasn’t the novel, but his inability to accept that he’d never finish it.
They’ve lost several employees who decided they were ready to move on, but Man-wol decides not to hire any new staff and just have Yoo-na act as manager. Yoo-na and Hyun-joong ride with the moving company carrying Man-wol’s things, Yoo-na pretending she’s on the phone so the driver doesn’t think she’s talking to herself.
She tells Hyun-joong of her plans to get her driver’s license, since her parents have promised to get her a car and her own place when she graduates. Hyun-joong asks if it’s difficult living with someone else’s parents, but Yoo-na sighs that it’s the high price she’s paying.
As they’re traveling, Yoo-na notices a bloody female ghost in the backseat of another car. Hyun-joong covers Yoo-na’s eyes, but the radio suddenly goes static and a woman’s voice can be heard pleading for help. Yoo-na decides that as manager of Hotel del Luna, she wants to accept the ghost as their guest, so she offers the driver extra money to follow the car.
Chan-sung goes to see Mago’s serious sister, hoping for some answers. The sister mentions that absorbing Man-wol’s curse nearly killed him, and she says that if he hadn’t unraveled it, his soul would have been wounded. Chan-sung states that Man-wol protected him, but the sister counters that he’s the one who protected Man-wol.
She murmurs that her sister picked the right person and tells him to keep up the good work. Chan-sung asks if he was sent to the hotel to protect Man-wol when her fate catches up to her, and he admits that he feels pity for the Man-wol he sees in his dreams. He says he’s angry, and asks if he’s supposed to keep getting in Man-wol’s way when she tossed him aside.
She says that getting in the way, holding on, and begging can only be done by a good person. Chan-sung snaps that he’s not a good person, so the sister tells him to quit. She gives him some medicine that will revoke his ability to see ghosts and the hotel, saying that this is Chan-sung’s chance to abandon Man-wol in return.
Chan-sung says he came here looking for Man-wol, but the sister says that it’s up to him what to do. Chan-sung starts to take the medicine and she asks if he wants to think about it, but Chan-sung repeats that he’s not a good enough person for the role they want him to play. Still, he admits, “I hesitate only because she’s in my heart.”
He says it’s not enough to comfort Man-wol, who’s an awful woman that abandoned him when he got in the way and won’t welcome him if he returns. But he agrees to think about whether he likes her enough to run back and beg her to accept him. As he leaves, Mago’s sister smiles.
The new hotel location is out in the country, and Man-wol sneers that it’s small and ugly. Seo-hee says it’s all they could afford, but at least it’s dark and damp, hee. Bartender Kim mentions that the area is famous for its makgeolli, but that only reminds Man-wol of her poor days and makes her grouchier.
She tells herself that at least the inside is always the same, but she immediately notices that the lobby is smaller. She can’t even have champagne by the Moon Tree because her things haven’t yet arrived, and she snarls that Bartender Kim has the memory of a goldfish when he mentions the makgeolli again.
After she leaves, Bartender Kim bristles at the way she’s treating him. He grumbles at what she did to Mi-ra and about her firing Chan-sung, and Seo-hee agrees that she’s worried Man-wol will do something else dangerous without a human around who can stop her.
Man-wol finds Mago waiting for her at the Moon Tree, pleased that it still has its leaves. Man-wol asks if Mago made sure Chan-sung can’t see ghosts anymore, and Mago says she gave him the medicine. She says that she gave Man-wol her way because she asked nicely for the first time, but it’s Chan-sung’s decision whether to take the medicine or not.
Man-wol asks for another favor — for Mago to get rid of the blue flower buds on the Moon Tree. Mago says it’s not in her power because the buds are Man-wol’s feelings, so it’s up to her to bloom them. Man-wol snaps that she’ll never see those blue flowers, but Mago just chuckles at her.
Chan-sung visits the old hotel location that night, but it’s dark and empty. He considers taking the medicine, but he’s distracted when a firefly starts flitting around his head. It transforms into a vaguely human-like shape, and Chan-sung tells it that the hotel isn’t here anymore.
It changes back into a firefly and flies away, and suddenly the lights come on. Chan-sung turns to see a man in the doorway… ha, he’s just a realtor here to take pictures. Alarmed at the idea of the hotel being sold, Chan-sung says that the building has a lot of issues.
Man-wol gets a call from the realtor asking if she paid the inheritance tax on the old hotel building. She has no idea, but she forbids Seo-hee from calling Chan-sung to ask. Luckily there’s a ghost in residence who used to work for a huge law firm, and he explains that Manager Noh was technically the hotel’s owner and he left it to Man-wol in his will.
He says that Manager Noh prepared the paperwork so all she has to do is turn it in, but Chan-sung is the only person who knows where the paperwork is. The ghost tells Man-wol that after paying all the taxes, she won’t have much left over after selling, so his advice is to keep the building.
Seo-hee calls the realtor back, who says that he ran into Chan-sung at the old hotel. Seo-hee tricks Man-wol into getting on the phone with Chan-sung, who fusses at her for firing her most talented employee. He says that he’ll be right there if she asks him to come back, but she just tells him to have the realtor lock the place up.
Later, Man-wol sits alone in the manager’s office, and she notices the shoes she bought for Chan-sung when they first met. She sighs that he should just wear his tacky brown shoes and work in a normal hotel.
Hyun-joong and Yoo-na still haven’t arrived at the new hotel, having gotten lost following the car with the ghost. The driver slams on the brakes when someone suddenly appears in front of his bumper, but the person disappears. Hyun-joong spots him again, walking into the woods, so while the driver goes to flag down someone on the main road, Yoo-na tries to follow the new ghost.
Hyun-joong stops her, finding it strange that while following a driver with one ghost in his car, they happened on a second ghost. Yoo-na says she can’t just leave if the ghosts were killed by the driver, especially since she herself was murdered.
Man-wol spends the evening moping at the hotel bar, where Bartender Kim is snippy with her, his feelings still hurt. He loses his temper when she demands the makgeolli she told him not to mention, so she raids the makgeolli factory, drinking several bottles on the premises and leaving behind some cash.
She staggers towards home carrying a few more bottles, and on the way she runs across an old well with a resident water spirit (cameo by Nam Da-reum). He knows about Hotel del Luna and its purpose, and Man-wol thanks him for the delicious water that went into the makgeolli.
Back in the city, Mi-ra tries to remember what happened at the hotel that led to Chan-sung being fired, but all she can recall is feeling happy because the hotel was so nice. Chan-sung says dejectedly that he was fired because Man-wol found him a nuisance, but he’s determined to find a way back.
He goes inside, and Sanchez tells Mi-ra that Chan-sung likes Man-wol, but she dumped him and left him the Mount Baekdu painting as severance pay. Naturally, all Mi-ra hears is that the painting is worth a lot of money.
In his room, Chan-sung runs into the hotel CEO who owned the painting, who’s a ghost now. The CEO asks if his tiger is in the painting, but Chan-sung says the tiger has moved on. He tells the CEO about Hotel del Luna, and when the CEO says he’d like to go there, Chan-sung gets excited — this is his ticket back in.
Sanchez wonders why Mi-ra isn’t going after Chan-sung, since she came all this way to get him back. Mi-ra says she decided to give up when she met Man-wol, though she wonders why she feels like she’s no match for her. Sanchez jokes that it’s because she owes people so much money, haha.
When Man-wol returns to the hotel, she learns that Hyun-joong and Yoo-na took a detour to pick up a ghost. Seo-hee says that Hyun-joong got the habit from Chan-sung, who couldn’t pass by a wandering spirit after what happened to the Room 13 ghost. Man-wol grows wistful, remembering how Man-wol would bring home ghosts like lost puppies, even once piggybacking a little girl ghost while singing “Baby Shark,” awww.
Her eyes fly open wide when Chan-sung walks in with the CEO, but she recovers enough to be polite. She grouchily congratulates Chan-sung on figuring out how to follow a ghost to find the hotel, but Chan-sung says that he met the CEO for a different reason — he’s selling the painting to the CEO’s hotel to be displayed in a memorial hall for him.
Chan-sung confesses to Man-wol that he fibbed about not being able to sell the painting — he was waiting for the CEO to pass away, because he knew the value of the painting would rise. Man-wol calls him a thief, but Chan-sung says that he didn’t know she would abandon him and the painting. He gloats that it’s worth a lot more than she thought and refuses to give her any of the profit, and Man-wol orders him out.
As he’s leaving, Chan-sung spots the water spirit at the door and invites him into the hotel. The water spirit thanks him benevolently, then walks right through Chan-sung, leaving him soaking wet.
Having struck out with Chan-sung, Man-wol takes the CEO to her office to question him about whether his conglomerate had any hidden funds. Her tea starts to overflow its cup, and she realizes that the floor of the hotel is covered in water. Seo-hee tells her that there’s something in the hotel that shouldn’t be — a spirit disguised as a young man.
Right away, Man-wol knows that it’s the water spirit, and when she sees Chan-sung still dripping wet, she guesses that he let the spirit in. Chan-sung defends that he’s never seen a water spirit before and thought it was a regular guest, and he asks how to get rid of it. Man-wol says they invited him so they can’t make him leave.
The water spirit’s absence from his well has a devastating effect on the makgeolli factory… the well has run dry, while every inch of Hotel del Luna is soggy. Chan-sung wants to try asking the water spirit to leave, but Man-wol snaps that people used to sacrifice humans to water spirits to get them to do anything.
Seo-hee reports that she’s found the room the water spirit is in, and that he only wants one thing — for Chan-sung, a living human, to come to his room. Everyone grows worried that he really wants a human sacrifice, so Man-wol storms out to find some townspeople, assuming that the water spirit is angry and intending to make them apologize.
Chan-sung tries to stop her, but she says that she refuses to send him in there. Chan-sung argues that he invited the water spirit in, and that he even thanked him, so he’s certain the water spirit means no harm.
Yoo-na and Hyun-joong are still waiting in the woods, and Yoo-na asks Hyun-joong who the woman was that they saw at the hospital. Hyun-joong says with a proud sigh that she’s his younger sister, Hyun-mi. Yoo-na thinks about visiting her, but Hyun-joong begs her not to, and Yoo-na protests, “Do you think I’d say something bad to your sister when I like you?” Well, there it is.
She gets mad at herself for blurting out her feelings and runs off, leaving Hyun-joong giggling at her. She trips, and she sees something strange in the dirt. It’s a plaid shirt, and Yoo-na looks up to see the male ghost wearing that same shirt. He’s not alone — there are five more ghosts with him. ~shudder~
The hallway leading to the water spirit’s room is thick with fog, and Man-wol tries one last time to talk Chan-sung out of this. He preens, saying that it makes him look cool when she tries to stop him. She asks why he came back when she did him a favor and let him go, and he says that when he told her to ask him to come back, it took her three whole seconds to refuse. That means that for three seconds, she wanted him to return. Awwww.
Man-wol grumbles that he’s making her angry, but he counters that she’s not angry, she’s worried. He bravely continues on alone, disappearing into the fog, and when Man-wol loses her nerve and runs after him, he’s already gone into the water spirit’s room.
He finds himself standing near the water spirit’s well as happy villagers work and play nearby. He calls down the well for the spirit, who answers that Chan-sung let him in and he’s very happy here. He says he doesn’t want to return to his well, and Chan-sung asks what angered him.
The water spirit replies that he’s not angry: “I’m scared of being abandoned. I’ve never dried up, and gave the people fresh water… to make alcohol and let them make money, but I can no longer fill up as much water as they want. Before I dry up and get abandoned like an empty pond, I ran away. I chose to abandon them first while they could still miss me.”
Chan-sung is suddenly at the bottom of the well, and the water spirit shows himself to Chan-sung and apologizes for being in a place where he’s not welcome. But he says he has nowhere else to go, and he asks Chan-sung for help. He removes his water gourd from his belt and levitates it to Chan-sung, promising to return the favor by showing Chan-sung his own fears, so that he can resolve them.
Chan-sung’s eyes close, and see sees a series of scenes: Man-wol crying under the Moon Tree… dark Mago staring at Chan-sung as he cries. When he opens them, Man-wol is calling down the well to him, and he calls back that he’s found a solution.
Yoo-na has alerted the police to her discovery, and in the morning, they find five bodies buried in the area. The detective in charge of the investigation looks startlingly like Man-wol’s old friend, Yeon-woo. Hyun-joong and Yoo-na finally arrive at the hotel’s new location, and they sheepishly inform Seo-hee and Bartender Kim that they’ve brought a few new guests.
Mi-ra helps Sanchez arrange a school reunion at his pizza place, and they’re joined by a classmate named JI-WON (cameo by Lee David), who just happens to be the man who killed the ghosts now checking into Hotel del Luna. Sanchez doesn’t look happy to see Ji-won, having deliberately left him off the invite list, but Mi-ra says she noticed and called him.
Ji-won tensely greets Sanchez, and he mentions that he heard Chan-sung is back in Korea. Mi-ra says she didn’t realize he knew Chan-sung, but Ji-won says with a dark chuckle that he knows him well, “… he’s a smart guy who’s good at everything.”
Chan-sung and Man-wol take the water spirit’s gourd to the CEO’s villa, which has a beautiful indoor spring. Chan-sung tells the water spirit that he’ll be happy here and tosses the gourd into the water, where it quickly sinks, then creates a joyful waterspout.
Man-wol is sad that the town’s makgeolli won’t taste the same anymore, and she scoffs that the water spirit left the well because he was angry. Chan-sung says he was only sad — if he’d been angry, he would have called on Man-wol, since she’s stronger.
She asks what he saw at the bottom of the well, and Chan-sung replies, “Fear.” He says that the water spirit showed him what he’s most afraid of, and we see more of his vision. He and Man-wol are at the Moon Tree, and as dark Mago looks on, Man-wol dissipates as a vengeful spirit. She never takes her eyes off Chan-sung as she swirls into ashes, then she’s gone forever.
Now Chan-sung confronts Man-wol, saying that she saw his fears and was trying to protect him by sending him away. He takes the medicine from his pocket, the one that can make him stop seeing ghosts, and Man-wol doesn’t deny that she asked Mago to give it to him. She says she’ll pray for his safety, but he counters that he’ll keep facing danger to make her uncomfortable.
He tosses the medicine into the spring and yells that no place is safe for him now, so she needs to continue protecting him. They stand there glaring at each other, neither willing to back down.
I’m so happy that Chan-sung finally admitted his feelings for Man-wol. Not that he’s ever really denied them, but he’s previously framed them in terms of employer/employee, and then almost as if they were friends. Now he knows that his feelings run deeper, and he’s not willing to let Man-wol off the hook, either. I like how he’s confident of the way she feels about him — not even so much romantically, but just as someone she cares about, whether or not she’s ready to admit it. I melted when he counted down how many seconds it took her to refuse to ask him back. Chan-sung knows that Man-wol cares, and he’s not afraid to tell her to her face that she cares about him, but he’s never pushy or aggressive about it. Just like in his previous life, he doesn’t need Man-wol to say she cares because he already knows.
I’ll admit that I was hoping for a twist in which Chan-sung was really Yeon-woo reincarnated (I confess, I’ve had a Lee Tae-sun bias ever since Entertainer). But after the previous episode and this one, it’s pretty clear that Chan-sung was Chung-myung, especially since Yeon-woo has also been reincarnated. Chan-sung is still very like his previous incarnation — capable, charming, and quietly confident — and now that we know more about what happened to them back then, it makes sense why Man-wol wasn’t happy to see Chan-sung when he showed up again after a thousand years. I don’t think he’s only back to see Man-wol on to the next life, because there’s a lot between them that needs to be settled, especially the truth of why Chung-myung seemed to betray Man-wol. I think Sunny nailed it when she posited that Princess Song-hwa blackmailed Chung-myung into marrying her, and that he did what he could to save Man-wol at the tragic expense of Yeon-woo and her people.
He hasn’t spent a thousand years paying for his crimes the same way Man-wol has, but Chung-myung/Chan-sung deserves a chance to explain what he did and why. And after a thousand years, Man-wol needs to mourn and atone for killing him (I assume) in retaliation. I believe that Chung-myung needs redemption as much as Man-wol does, and they can only get it from each other. I think that Yeon-woo is also back for a reason, and that he’ll end up entangled in Chan-sung and Man-wol’s current situation, which should be interesting. He also has feelings for Man-wol that need resolution, and she’s carrying a lot of guilt for his death that she needs to unload. I have a feeling that Yeon-woo’s presence is going to be a catalyst for a lot of the healing that needs to happen before Man-wol can move on.
In his current incarnation, for a guy who describes himself as weak-hearted, Chan-sung is like granite when it comes to his refusal to leave Man-wol. I love that he’s not pathetic about it, though, and he even gets angry about the situation sometimes, but he’s here, and he’s not going away, and that’s that. He knows that Man-wol needs him whether she likes it or not, and that the hotel needs him, and he actually enjoys the work that he does now that he’s acclimated to it. But mostly he’s determined to see this thing with Man-wol through to the end, not because it’s destiny or because the gods made it happen, but because he cares about her soul.
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