Hell Is Other People: Episode 3
Our hero has finally been introduced to all of his neighbors, but has barely scratched the surface on their secrets. Unfortunately, that may not long be the case as activity at Eden Goshiwon continues to grow more sinister and draws the attention of a spunky officer.
EPISODE 3: “Secret Whispers”
Taking a short leap back, we get a little more clarity on the events at the end of last episode. The person that called creepy dentist Moon-jo home early was Eden Goshiwon’s landlady, Bok-soon, and she giggles that this should be fun. When he arrives outside the building, Moon-jo finds the detective dead in his car and his neighbor, Ki-hyuk bleeding in the backseat.
With a smile, Ki-hyuk promises to clean this up himself, but as we know, Moon-jo doesn’t take kindly to Ki-hyuk acting alone and promptly kills him. Afterwards, Moon-jo finds Jong-woo on the roof and engages in polite (if mildly unsettling) conversation by likening their rooms to coffins and then offering Jong-woo a beer.
Jong-woo notes a cut on Moon-jo’s hand and the older man laughs it off as a work incident. Looking at Jong-woo’s hands, Moon-jo guesses he’s a writer. “I do something similar,” he adds, “I dismantle, assemble, and recreate.” (Chills, y’all!) Jong-woo is equally weirded out by Moon-jo’s social skills but answers that he likes the crime fiction genre, when asked.
Moon-jo enthusiastically says he’s also a fan of crime and Jong-woo is thrilled to find they share a love for writer Raymond Chandler. The new-found camaraderie spurs Jong-woo to open up about his own novel which centers on a brilliant pianist that turns out to be a serial killer. Moon-jo muses that such people walk among them everyday and Jong-woo nods along, oblivious that one such person is standing two feet away.
Jong-woo continues that his character commits murder through strangulation, because he wants to feel the heat leave the body. The description reminds Moon-jo of how he’d strangled Ki-hyuk earlier that evening and he praises Jong-woo’s creativity. He starts to suggest that the killer wanted to feal the heat, rather than cold… but catches himself and the pair laugh as Jong-woo notes with relief that Moon-jo is the most normal of his neighbors.
Giggly twin Deuk-jong watches Jong-woo and Moon-jo return to their rooms and then drags a shovel and pickaxe out from his own. In his room, Jong-woo thinks back on Moon-jo’s suggestion and decides to add it to his novel. Pulling out his laptop, Jong-woo freezes when he recalls having left it open.
Flipping through the diary left behind by the room’s previous resident, Jong-woo finds an entry that reads: “I’m scared. I want to leave. I think he enters my room.” Jong-woo remembers the incident from the previous night when gangster Hee-joong had accused Deuk-jong of entering his room, now wondering if Deuk-jong has been in his room as well…
He quickly shakes it off as useless paranoia and resumes working on his novel.
At the edge of town, pervert Nam-bok and the Deuk-jong twins (the other’s name is BYUK DEUK-SOO) park along the side of the road. Giggly twin, Deuk-jong, titters that he’d wanted to be the one to kill Ki-hyuk. As he runs ahead, Nam-bok mutters in Chinese that Deuk-jong is an idiot.
The men dig a grave and toss two bodies (Ki-hyuk and Detective Cha) inside, and Jong-woo’s writing seems to mirror their movements as they take Detective Cha’s car out to another location and burn it. Nam-bok orders Deuk-soo to thoroughly destroy all the evidence. Deuk-soo fires back that they didn’t do the killing, but they always get stuck with the cleanup.
Jong-woo starts to drift off while writing and snaps awake as a memory from his military service resurfaces. It’s the aggressive soldier from Jong-woo’s other flashbacks and he chastises Jong-woo for having fallen asleep at his post. Jong-woo weakly tries to deny it, but the soldier orders him on the ground and tells him to sleep that way.
Shaken back to the present by his phone alarm, Jong-woo groggily makes his way to the showers. Porno audio echoes down the hall from Nam-bok’s room and Jong-woo wonders again if Nam-bok snooped in his laptop when he “mistook” Jong-woo’s package for his own. Ki-hyuk’s absence only adds to Jong-woo’s irritation, as he’d hoped to confront him over the spitting incident yesterday morning.
Moon-jo joins him in the shower and Jong-woo can’t help but notice Moon-jo’s body is covered in scars. He asks if Moon-jo has seen Ki-hyuk, oblivious to the change in Moon-jo’s demeanor as he notes he hasn’t seen their neighbor since last night. Jong-woo realizes he hasn’t seen Hee-joong either. Moon-jo says they live together, but are practically strangers and Jong-woo agrees that none of them volunteered to be neighbors.
Changing the subject, Moon-jo invites Jong-woo to drink together that evening but Jong-woo declines as he’s supposed to meet his girlfriend. Out in the bathroom, Jong-woo runs into the twins and Deuk-jong whispers something to Deuk-soo and they both smile at Jong-woo. He decides to ignore them and steps into the hall, where he’s greeted by landlady, Bok-soon.
Taking the opportunity, Jong-woo asks if the doors can be opened without keys. Bok-soon assures him it’s impossible and Jong-woo denies anything having gone missing. He asks, however, she tell Nam-bok to keep his door shut because he smells and watches too much porn. She promises to try and swats him on the butt as he walks away.
Before leaving for work, Jong-woo decides to test if someone is entering his room by placing dust on his laptop and taking photos so he can verify everything is in the same place when he returns. After making sure the door is locked tight, Jong-woo turns to find Nam-book leering at him from his own doorway.
Jong-woo cautiously approaches, eyeing the arm Nam-bok is holding behind his back. Just as he’s about to reach Nam-bok’s room, Bok-soon appears and calls out to Nam-bok. Jong-woo takes the opportunity to quickly scurry past and Bok-soon loudly chides Nam-bok to close his door because she keeps getting complaints.
From the rooftop, Moon-jo watches Jong-woo leave for work and asks if Deuk-soo took care of “it.” Deuk-soo assures him he did and Moon-jo tells him to take care of 310 (meaning Hee-joong). Meanwhile, Jong-woo texts girlfriend Ji-eun and confirms their date. He pauses when he hears a cat cry. In the alley he finds a kitten and runs to the convenience store to get it some food.
As Jong-woo watches the kitten eat, a man exits the house next door and angrily kicks the food away. The man shouts at Jong-woo to stop feeding them because it’s too noisy to sleep at night and Jong-woo is disheartened to see the kitten was scared off, leaving the food abandoned in the street.
At the same time, officer Jung-hwa is staring at the missing persons notice for the man Hee-joong found murdered at Eden Goshiwon. She notices a woman nervously eyeing the station from across the street and runs out to ask her if she knows the missing man and the woman shakily identifies him as her husband.
Back at Eden Goshiwon, Nam-bok snaps at the twins to take care of yet another body bag, growling that Bok-soon is complaining about the smell. He shuffles over to a bed and we see that Hee-joong is still alive! Unfortunately, he’s strapped down and Nam-bok draws a line across Hee-joong’s neck with red in, announcing he’ll take off the head and the twins can clean up the rest. Deuk-jong squeals that he can’t wait to work on the new tenant and Nam-bok warns him to be careful or he’ll suffer the same fate as Ki-hyuk.
On the bus, Jong-woo calls Ji-eun but they’re forced to hang up when Ji-eun’s coworker demands to use the bathroom stall Ji-eun is sitting in. Outside, Ji-eun finds her boss at the sink and can do nothing but smile and nod as the woman snidely remarks that Jong-woo still hasn’t debuted as a writer (and implies he never will). Afterwards, Ji-eun’s boss calls her over to chide her proofreading skills as she found errors in a document Ji-eun was responsible for.
Meanwhile, officer Jung-hwa learns from the missing man’s wife that he’d suddenly stopped answering her calls. She hands over a picture of her husband and his address. Jung-hwa frowns when she sees he lived at Eden Goshiwon. The wife explains they lived separately because of their jobs and sobs that her husband said he was afraid and that strange people were trying to kill him.
Speaking of, those strange people now loom over Hee-joong. Moon-jo joins them and as he slips on gloves tells Hee-joong that there a three things Eden Goshiwon lacks: students, sunlight, and people looking for them. Hee-joong broke house rules by making people (meaning Detective Cha) look for them. As the twins zip him up in a plastic cover, Moon-jo informs Hee-joong that Detective Cha is dead… and soon he will be too.
Jong-woo arrives at work and sole female employee Yoo-jung introduces him to Reporter JO YU-CHEOL. Turns out Reporter Jo is the one who called Jong-woo last night demanding files. Another co-worker arrives and informs Reporter Jo that their boss won’t be in until the afternoon due to a hangover and he takes his leave. The staff gripe about Reporter Jo as soon as he’s gone. Then Jong-woo is assigned to make a PowerPoint and told to ask his desk-mate Byung-min if he needs help.
Back at Eden Goshiwon, Moon-jo removes Hee-joong’s gag and he begs them to stop. Moon-jo leans over Hee-joong’s mouth and says that he’s normally good, but since Hee-joong isn’t under anesthesia it’s going to hurt. Meanwhile, Jung-hwa stares at Deuk-jong’s file and recalls that he’d sworn he’d only killed one of the thirteen dead cats. She notes his address in her notebook.
Jong-woo quickly discovers he’s out of his depth with his assignment and asks Byung-min for help. Byung-min loudly chides him for being unable to do his work, adding that if he got in on connections he should work twice as hard. He continues to rail on Jong-woo for being stupid and lazy so Jong-woo simply apologizes and tries to do it himself.
After trying his best for a while, Jong-woo gets stuck again. He’s reluctant to ask Byung-min for help again but luckily Yoo-jung notices his distress and teaches him how to fix it. The attention does nothing to improve Byung-min’s opinion of Jong-woo, but the same goes for Byung-min when Jong-woo catches him ogling Yoo-jung’s backside.
Jae-ho finally arrives at work, lunch in tow. As the staff dig into the food, Moon-jo digs into Hee-joong’s mouth and yanks out his teeth. Later that evening, he polishes one onto a ring. Satisfied, Moon-jo places it in a box among countless others, each carefully labeled.
Jong-woo gets stuck again at work and musters the nerve to ask Byung-min to take a look. Predictably, Byung-min explodes and again attacks Jong-woo’s intelligence. Finally at his breaking point, Jong-woo grabs his keyboard and slams it into Byung-min’s face… but it’s just another fantasy and Jong-woo nods quietly as Byung-min continues his tirade.
He stops when Jae-ho calls it a day, but spits that Jong-woo should stay behind and “earn his keep.” With a sigh, Jong-woo pulls out his phone and text Ji-eun that he has to work overtime.
Jung-hwa is also working overtime as she pays a visit to Deuk-jong’s uncle. Uncle tells her the twins were always strange and asserts that they started a fire in order to kill him. Jung-hwa asks if he has any photos or belongings of the twins and Uncle presents her with a key. Walking around the back of the house, Jung-hwa finds a gate and unlocks it with the key.
She starts digging through the storage room and is alarmed with Uncle appears behind her. Jung-hwa starts to reach for her taser, but Uncle merely waves her aside to pull out a box. He says he received it from the orphanage years after he’d sent the twins there and tells Jung-hwa she can keep it.
When she gets home, Jung-hwa finds the box filled with VHS tapes. She drags an old television up from the basement and pops in the first tape. It shows young Deuk-soo and Deuk-jong playing in the countryside. Eventually, the boys squat down and produce a bag, announcing it’s time to commence the frog burning ceremony.
A woman calls out to them offscreen and when she enters the frame, Jung-hwa’s eyes widen to see it’s Eden Goshiwon landlady, Bok-soon! Presently, Bok-soon chops something up in the kitchen and then smiles wickedly as she dumps the bloody contents into a pot of boiling water.
Jong-woo finally gets off work and tries to Ji-eun, but she’s also working overtime and doesn’t notice. On his way home, Jong-woo wonders if the kitten came back and decides to pick up another can of cat food. Bok-soon holds the door as the twins cart a heavy bag downstairs.
Jong-woo doesn’t see the kitten, but leaves the can of food. He continues home and spots the twins dragging the bag down another alley. Curiosity piqued, Jong-woo follows them but Deuk-soo senses something and spins around. Jong-woo darts out of sight and carefully peeks around, only to see Deuk-soo approaching.
Luckily for Jong-woo, Deuk-soo is actually focused on a cat. Fortunately for the cat, Deuk-jong throws a can at it and it runs away before Deuk-soo can reach it. Deuk-jong snickers that he went to the police station because of Deuk-soo, pouting that he only killed one cat. Enraged all over again, Deuk-jong starts kicking the bag and Jong-woo loses interest.
Getting up to leave, however, Jong-woo knocks a bottle loose. He manages to catch it just in time, and although the twins don’t notice, Moon-jo appears behind Jong-woo. He asks what Jong-woo is doing and Jong-woo stutters that he’d seen the twins walking home. Moon-jo approaches the twins to ask what they’re doing.
The twins reply that in exchange for living at Eden Goshiwon for free, they help with chores and Bok-soon had asked them to take out the trash. Moon-jo chuckles that he’d thought they were disposing of a body and calls out to Jong-woo. Deuk-soo’s eyes widen to realize Jong-woo was there, but Moon-jo just asks why they’re throwing the trash out here.
Deuk-soo explains Bok-soon wanted it thrown out where there weren’t CCTV cameras. Moon-jo asks about the dark spot that looks like blood and Deuk-jong says it’s just food waste. Moon-jo sighs that they can’t even separate garbage properly and is surprised when Jong-woo suggests they just open the bag.
With an amused smile, Moon-jo orders the twins to open it. Deuk-soo looks at his brother nervously, but hands a box-cutter to Jong-woo, who slices through the tie and then stumbles backwards with a yell. Moon-jo peeks inside and then chides the twins for throwing out a dead cat. Jong-woo shakily walks away and Moon-jo joins him.
Jong-woo is disturbed by Moon-jo’s calm demeanor, but Moon-jo explains his father is a veterinarian, so he’s used to animal corpses. Guessing Jong-woo’s date fell through, Moon-jo asks if Jong-woo wants to drink together instead. The men sit down in the kitchen with beers and Moon-jo pulls out a container from the fridge.
He urges Jong-woo to eat some, saying Bok-soon made it. Jong-woo takes a bite, thinking to himself that it tastes strange. Taking note of Jong-woo’s grimace, Moon-jo supposes he doesn’t like this part and says there are other parts in the fridge. His wording makes Jong-woo uncomfortable and he suggests they drink and retire.
“That’s weird,” Moon-jo says taking a bite, “It’s some good meat.” The lights flicker and for an instant, Moon-jo’s face breaks into a wicked grin… but it returns to normal on the next flash. Jong-woo’s discomfort is obvious and Moon-jo wonders why he’s startled. “You think this is human meat or something?” he asks.
One thing I’ll say for Hell is Other People is that it definitely keeps me on my toes. I do wish that it would do more to amp up the tension, but it excels at being creepy. I was surprised how quickly Jong-woo took to Moon-jo because I find his gentle demeanor even more alarming than that of the twins or Nam-bok. The other residents give off an unsettling vibe that is very apparent in the outside world, but Moon-jo easily masquerades as a gentle and likable professional.
I loved the juxtaposition of the opening and closing interactions between Jong-woo and Moon-jo. Within the span of a day Jong-woo went from finding Moon-jo initially off-putting, to regarding him as the only normal neighbor, all the way back to being downright horrified. And who can blame him when he likely just ate his neighbor? That flash of Moon-jo’s evil grin between the flickering light and then his final smile gave me full body chills y’all and it was my absolute favorite part of the episode. I’ve been a Lee Dong-wook fan for years and yet I think this is the first time I’ve seen him play a character that made me so incredibly uncomfortable. Plus, that tooth collection? Yikes!
Thanks to Jung-hwa’s investigating, we now know that the first man we saw murdered in Eden Goshiwon was a resident (and likely the previous owner of Jong-woo’s room and the diary) which brings the neighbor body count up to 3. I worry for our budding detective as she has unwittingly opened up a can of worms that has left everyone else that has even vaguely come in contact dead. I wish I had more of a connection with Jong-woo because as yet I don’t fear for him half as much as I fear for Jung-hwa.
It was surprising to see that the connection between residents reaches back so far with the twins being under Bok-soon’s care from a young age. Did they perhaps meet Moon-jo at the orphanage as well? Why is he the leader of this hell house and what is his purpose? I have so many questions and each episode just tacks on more, but I’m excited to find answers. Hopefully Jong-woo’s poor heart can take it, because the scares can only get bigger from here on out.
- Premiere Watch: The Great Show, Hell Is Other People
- Im Shi-wan learns why Hell Is Other People
- Meet the neighbors from Hell in OCN’s mystery thriller
- 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