Hell Is Other People: Episode 2
As if navigating a new living space wasn’t challenging enough, our hero also starts his new job. Hidden pitfalls await him everywhere he goes and Jong-woo is going to have to be on his toes because while the worst thing that can happen at work is losing his job, a misstep at Eden Goshiwon could cost him his life.
EPISODE 2: “Human Nature”
Picking back up with the tense altercation in the hallway, Jong-woo watches awkwardly from the sidelines as his most abrasive floormate, Hee-joong, angrily accuses their neighbor Deuk-jong of sneaking into his room. Deuk-jong denies it and everyone turns to see a second Deuk-jong giggling at the end of the hallway.
Hee-joong advances, but is blocked by soft-spoken Ki-hyuk, who warns him in a gentle(yet menacing) tone that they should behave in front of their new neighbor. Turning to the giggly Deuk-jong, Ki-hyuk orders him to apologize and stop disturbing others. Hee-joong huffs back to his room and the crowd disperses.
Ki-hyuk approaches Jong-woo to apologize for the ruckus. Jong-woo waves it off, using work as an excuse to go back to bed. Slipping inside, he waits a few beats and then peers back out into the now vacant hallway… only to be startled by pervert Nam-bok looming a few feet away. Jong-woo ducks back inside, not noticing the object in Nam-bok’s hand but it’s only a screwdriver he promptly uses to scratch under his house-arrest anklet. Heh.
The next morning, we see that the gum Jong-woo keeps finding is Nam-bok’s doing as he spits out a wad and sticks it under the stair railing. Ew. Meanwhile, Jong-woo tries to leave for work but is caught by landlady Bok-soon and she apologizes profusely for last night’s incident. She excitedly reports that Hee-joong is moving out immediately and smiles that only kind-hearted people remain at the goshiwon now.
Outside, Jong-woo is stopped again, this time by his eerie neighbor, Ki-hyuk. Guessing Jong-woo is headed to work, Ki-hyuk asks where he works, musing that it’s pretty far. Jong-woo wonders aloud if Ki-hyuk isn’t hot as he’s dressed in long sleeves and pants. Ki-hyuk offers only a serene smile and walks away.
At the station, officer Jung-hwa studies a map of the locations where they’d found dead cats. Her partner chides her for obsessing, but Jung-hwa is undeterred and heads out to inspect the locations. Elsewhere, Jong-woo finds his new office, but the co-worker that lets him in claims not to have heard anything about an intern. Hm.
Jong-woo’s “friend” and company CEO Jae-ho arrives and immediately chides Jong-woo for referring to him familiarly. He introduces the small staff, and assigns Jong-woo to the desk next to the unfriendly co-worker, PARK BYUNG-MIN. Jae-ho calls Jung-woo to the roof and again tells him to work hard.
Their conversation is halted when Jae-ho notices spit on the back of Jong-woo’s shirt and he flashes back to meeting Ki-hyuk that morning and hearing a sound as the other man passed. Jae-ho assumes he has anger management issues like the men fighting last night and warns Jung-woo to avoid him. He adds that Jung-woo should keep his own temper in check and Jung-woo recalls snapping at Nam-bok afterwards.
Meanwhile, back at Eden Goshiwon, gangster Hee-joong bolts awake when his doorknob begins to rattle violently. He reaches for his knife, only to find it missing. The doorknob stills and then the door bursts open as the twins and Nam-bok rush inside to hold Hee-joong down. Ki-hyuk wanders in behind them, Hee-joong’s knife in hand. “It’s your turn now,” Ki-hyuk says and then strikes…
Except it’s only a dream, and Hee-joong wakes to find his knife on his dresser where he left it. Loud thuds sound above him and Hee-joong storms up to the abandoned fourth floor, but the apartment above his is locked. A figure passes behind him and Hee-joong wanders after it only to find a man covered in blood in the room at the end of the hall. Is he dead?!
Frozen in terror, Hee-joong notices the door behind him creaking open too late and turns just as one of the twins descends upon him. The thud of something heavy hitting the floor reverberates downstairs but landlady Bok-soon pauses only a moment before resuming vacuuming.
Jung-hwa wanders around the neighborhood and finally catches a break when she notices a layer of dust on a car facing the alley of the most recent cat attack. The owner agrees to show her the footage from his dashcam and while only the back of the suspect is visible, the owner identifies the bag Deuk-jong is holding from a nearby store.
Reviewing the security footage, the shop owner identifies Deuk-jong as a resident from Eden Goshiwon. Jung-hwa hurries over and is greeted by Bok-soon, who sighs when Jung-hwa shows her a screenshot of Deuk-jong. She grumbles that he’s done “it” again, and explains that Deuk-jong is mentally impaired.
Bok-soon shouts down the hallway for Deuk-jong to come out and he soon emerges from his room, giggling. She chides him for animal abuse, but Deuk-jong just snickers he didn’t do anything wrong as he darts back into his room to fetch his slippers.
At the office, Jong-woo’s cranky co-worker, Byung-min, gifts a pair of office slippers to the only female employee, SON YOO-JUNG. He’s quick to downplay the gesture by claiming they were free and it backfires as Yoo-jung turns around and gives them to Jong-woo.
Meanwhile, Jung-hwa has managed to escort Deuk-jong to the station but he just cackles loudly while she tries to talk to him about the thirteen dead cats. Deok-jung corrects that he only killed one and Jung-hwa’s fellow officers call her over to confirm they don’t have evidence linking him to the others.
Additionally, most of the cats had been burned but this one was not. Jung-hwa insists that’s why they should investigate but her superiors argue there’s no point questioning Deuk-jong. To her frustration, they send him home with a warning and tell her to drop the cats. Jung-hwa is dejected but immediately perks up when she notices one of the addresses on a new missing person’s flier (hey, that’s the guy Hee-joong found!) is very close to Eden Goshiwon.
Speaking of Hee-joong, he regains consciousness only to find himself heavily beaten and bound to a chair while the Other Deuk-jong twin tosses around an ax. The twin reminds Hee-joong that he owes him his wrist (for wrongly accusing him last night) and Hee-joong squeals in horror as Other Deuk-jong repeatedly raises the ax and stops just short of his forearm.
With a sneer, Other Deuk-jong spits that he already would’ve chopped Hee-joong up if not for “that guy.” He walks out of the room and Hee-joong notices a cut in the duct tape binding him to the chair. Out in the hallway, the twins meet and Other Deuk-jong snaps at his giggling brother to be more careful. Deuk-jong promises no one noticed anything, but Other Deuk-jong isn’t referring to the police… but the mysterious “that guy.”
Back at work, Jong-woo has been waiting for an hour to be given a task. Finally, he asks Byung-min who exasperatedly tells him to make coffee. Jong-woo pops up and turns on the machine, which makes a ghastly noise that disrupts Yoo-jung’s phone call. When he returns, Byung-min demands if Jong-woo spit in it and then hands him a laptop and tells him to write a press release for their next project.
Jong-woo opens the laptop to find an open search for women’s slippers and realizes Byung-min has a crush on Yoo-jung. Byung-min’s annoyance only further increases when Yoo-jung addresses Jong-woo and laughs good-naturedly when he politely stands at attention. Meanwhile, dentist Moon-jo wraps up an appointment and answers a call to which he replies, “I want to see him. I’ll come straight back after work.”
Jae-ho dismisses everyone from work for the day, but decides they’ll have a company dinner to celebrate Jong-woo joining the team. Jong-woo tries to argue, but is quickly over-ruled and while Yoo-jung coos over his obedience, Byung-min’s expression sours even more. In another office, Jong-woo’s girlfriend, Ji-eun, is blocked from leaving with a last minute task from her boss.
Ji-eun tentatively points out this task falls under another employee’s responsibilities but is quickly shut down with the excuse that the other girl is out sick and Ji-eun is the most reliable. Eerily echoing Jae-ho, Ji-eun’s boss tells her to stop frowning and skips out as Ji-eun checks her phone to see Jong-woo’s apology text, canceling their plans.
Jong-woo receives only a simple acknowledgement text and starts to ask if anything is wrong… but deletes it and promises to call after dinner. Inside, Jae-ho quickly gets drunk and goes on a rant about how Jong-woo was so talented and dedicated a writer all through college (although he’s sure to slip in that Jong-woo skipped a year because he was poor) and that Jong-woo entered a contest (which he was apparently disqualified from).
He laments Jong-woo’s fall from a literary genius to a mere intern and shouts at him to give up because money is better and the art industry is rotten, anyway. Unable to take it anymore, Jong-woo stands and smashes his glass on the floor, bellowing at Jae-ho to stop telling him what to do… but it’s only a fantasy and Jong-woo sits silently as Jae-ho babbles on.
When they finally leave the restaurant, Jae-ho wants to go for a second round but is quickly loaded into a taxi. Yoo-jung suggests they go to a bar and Byung-min happily agrees, but Jong-woo politely declines. Yoo-jung immediately changes her mind and decides to go home as well, to Byung-min’s disappointment. As soon as she leaves, Jong-woo excuses himself and Byung-min growls at him not to get uppity because he’s close with Jae-ho and know his place. Um… what?
Hee-joong is still tied up on the fourth floor of Eden Goshiwon with the impaired Deuk-jong as his guard. He soon wanders off, however, and Hee-joong manages to rip through his duct tape and find his phone. He dials a “Detective Cha” and when the phone picks up, the man demands to know where Hee-joong has been. Hee-joong barely manages to get out some people are trying to kill him before the call drops.
Slipping out of his shoes, Hee-joong decides to attempt escape. Unfortunately, he doesn’t notice Ki-hyuk sneak up behind him until it’s too late and Ki-hyuk knocks him out with a hammer. Ki-hyuk goes down to the kitchen to rinse off his weapon and then plops down across from Deuk-jong, who’s in there eating ramen.
Ki-hyuk tosses Hee-joong’s phone onto the table and quietly says Deuk-jong was supposed to be watching Hee-joong. Deuk-jong apologizes, weakly explaining he was hungry. Ki-hyuk just continues to stare coldly until Deuk-jong begins smacking himself repeatedly. Landlady Bok-soon joins them to find Deuk-jong now sobbing with his ramen dumped over his head.
She snaps at them for fighting and Ki-hyuk offers his soulless smile. He apologizes and takes his leave as Deuk-jong gurgles out his own apologies to Bok-soon’s annoyance. Meanwhile, Moon-jo is surprised to see Jung-hwa on his way out and she explains she had to move her appointment. Jung-hwa notices a cake box in his hand, and Moon-jo confirms he’s meeting someone special. (Anyone else got chills?)
Jong-woo finally returns to Eden Goshiwon, pausing outside the building to note how after just one day, he doesn’t want to return. Bok-soon greets him inside and Jong-woo carefully sidesteps her repeated offers for her (bloody) eggs and escapes into his room. Inside, Jong-woo is unable to relax and decides to fix the peeling ceiling.
His phone tumbles off the bed as he does so and when crouches down to retrieve it, he finds a diary under the bed. Flipping through, Jong-woo is alarmed to find the contents disturbing (such as pages filled with only the word “die”). He flashes back to Bok-soon admitting the previous resident had killed himself.
Shaking off the bad vibes, Jong-woo goes to a nearby convenience store for beer and tries texting Ji-eun. His phone rings almost immediately, but rather than his girlfriend, it’s a client (as Yoo-jung had forwarded the office number to his phone for after hours calls).
A man pulls up to Eden Goshiwon and flashes his badge at Bok-soon. He’s the detective Hee-joong had tried to call, and he asks if she recognizes Hee-joong. Bok-soon gripes that she was gonna report it tomorrow and claims that Hee-joong skipped out on his rent. She shows him Hee-joong’s room and as Detective Cha rummages around, she tells him about last night’s incident.
Deuk-jong exits his room just then and Bok-soon calls him over to verify Hee-joong beat him up. Detective Cha tells Bok-soon to contact him if Hee-joong returns and file an official report with the local police station while Ki-hyuk stands out in the hallway, listening. Detective Cha is leaving just as Jong-woo returns and stops him to ask about Hee-joong.
He questions whether Hee-joong had suddenly been acting differently and Jong-woo admits he just moved in and doesn’t know him well. Jong-woo asks if anything happened to Hee-joong and Detective Cha tells him that Hee-joong is actually a wanted man but he’d suddenly called, claiming someone was trying to kill him.
Jong-woo notes that Hee-joong really didn’t get along with the other residents and seemed to threaten them more than was necessary. Detective Cha gives Jong-woo and they part ways. Inside, Bok-soon informs him he has a package and Jong-woo notices it’s been opened. Bok-soon denies doing it, rather Nam-bok (the pervert with the house arrest anklet in 313) thought it was his.
Furious, Jong-woo pauses outside Nam-bok’s door. He fumes there for a bit while Nam-bok remains focused on his porn, but remembers Jae-ho’s advice to not get involved and decides to let it go. The package is Jong-woo’s repaired laptop and he groans to realize it’s still on. He wonders if Nam-bok had snooped but then he suddenly remembers Hee-joong telling him he planned to move home after leaving the goshiwon and runs out to catch Detective Cha.
Unfortunately, when Detective Cha gets into his car, Ki-hyuk is already waiting in the backseat and strangles him with a cord. Pulling out a blade, he also stabs Detective Cha in the side. By the time Jong-woo gets outside, the vehicle has stopped shaking and Ki-hyuk watches Jong-woo in the rear view mirror, musing that he has a lot more work to do.
Jong-woo gives up and returns to his room. The scene cuts back and forth between footsteps and Ki-hyuk’s leather bag in the hallway to the car where Detective Cha regains consciousness and attacks Ki-hyuk. The men struggle and Moon-jo, on his way home, notices the vehicle shaking. He approaches the car as the man with the bag approaches Jong-woo’s room. Ki-hyuk regains the knife and stabs Detective Cha repeatedly.
At the car, Moon-jo opens the door, letting Detective Cha spill out, dead. In the backseat, Ki-hyuk isn’t doing much better. The unknown figure with the leather bag peers into Jong-woo’s room and then passes to the next door (the one with the peephole into Jong-woo’s!!!). Moon-jo opens the backdoor of the vehicle and Ki-hyuk smiles as the faceless figure sets down the leather bag and then the cake box onto their desk.
The cake box falls and out spill countless syringes as the scene flips back to the car where Moon-jo jabs something into Ki-hyuk’s neck. The scene flashes back to Moon-jo’s office when he’d promised the caller to be home early and we see the volunteer photo Jung-hwa had been looking at the previous night… and behind a smiling Moon-jo, stands Bok-soon, the Deuk-jong twins, and Ki-hyuk among the group.
Back at the car, Moon-jo tells Ki-hyuk he was a failure. “I’m creating art,” he says, pulling on gloves, “It’s not just murder.” Ki-hyuk gurgles out a “why” and Moon-jo returns, “Why did you do this without my permission? We have rules, you know.” He leans in and wraps his hands around Ki-hyuk’s neck. As he squeezes the life out of Ki-hyuk, Moon-jo whispers, “You’ve done well so far. Honey.” In his room, Moon-jo peers through the hole at Jong-woo.
Jong-woo takes to the roof to call Ji-eun and she sighs dismissively that he’s overreacting about his neighbors. Jong-woo starts to argue, but Ji-eun is too tired to continue talking and they hang up. He’s started when Moon-jo suddenly joins him, saying he’d heard about Jong-woo from Bok-soon. Jong-woo tries to be pleasant, but questions why Moon-jo keeps smiling at him.
“I had a thought when I saw you,” Moon-jo replies, advancing, “That you… might by the same type of person as me.”
Well, that’s not where I was expecting to go. The last 10 minutes were completely wild. I had thought this show would be more… subtle? Focus on building anxiety and tension and the sense of unease, but never actually reveal whether Jong-woo’s impression of his neighbors was accurate or not. At least… not this early. And I certainly didn’t expect not one, but two, of Eden Goshiwon’s residents to be eliminated in the first week. And my apologies to anyone that had trouble following the sequencing of events at the end, the editing was very odd. I’ve noticed the show chooses to do its big reveals in a very disjointed manner and while stylistically, I can sort of understand the choice — because everything about this drama is meant to throw the viewer off-kilter — it’s disorienting in way that leaves me feeling more confused than disturbed.
It’s a shame that Hee-joong is gone so soon. I had a feeling he wasn’t meant to escape Eden Goshiwon, but that glimmer of protectiveness over Jong-woo and his palpable fear of the other residents really made me hope he’d defy the odds and make it back to his fishing hometown. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but Detective Cha was an interesting reveal and knowing now that Hee-joong, a hardened criminal on the run, was so terrified of Eden Goshiwon that he would rather turn himself in speaks volumes.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the implications the end of the episode offered. Is Eden Goshiwon really just a Murder House? I find it unlikely Bok-soon isn’t aware what goes on under her roof, so I’m curious exactly what her role is and the history of the neighbors that led to this point. Were all the volunteers in the photo once residents? It seems like Moon-jo is conducting an experiment of sorts. He said there were rules and Ki-hyuk had violated them by killing without permission. Also, why is it that serial killers always want a protege?
Is there an experiment at play? Is Moon-jo trying to create a community of killers? Or is he testing the human psyche as a whole? Did they gaslight the previous resident of Jong-woo’s room to the point of suicide? I’m hoping the diary holds more clues for Jong-woo because he’ll need to be sharp if he wants to survive. It’s hard to say whether Moon-jo’s fondness of him will protect him from the other residents… or put him in even greater danger.
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- First script read for OCN’s Hell Is Other People
- Lee Dong-wook to join Im Shi-wan in OCN thriller, Hell Is Other People
- Im Shi-wan heads back to work following discharge from army