Hell Is Other People: Episode 9
Our hero has finally managed to escape Eden Goshiwon, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to maintain his distance. For whatever sinister purpose, he’s been marked by the residents and one in particular will stop an nothing in order to ensure his return.
EPISODE 9: “Cognitive Dissonance”
Having been discovered snooping on the 4th floor, Seok-yoon stands frozen in terror as Moon-jo coolly informs him that he’ll have to move out now. Nam-bok and Deuk-jeong reappear at the other end of the hallway, boxing Seok-yoon in just as Moon-jo declares it’s time to get started and rushes at him with a hammer.
Jong-woo jolts awake in the hotel and, upon seeing Moon-jo looming in the doorway, snatches up his knife and charges at him with a yell. Moon-jo snickers as Jong-woo pins him to the wall, the knife pressed against his neck… except it’s not Moon-jo, but Ji-eun and her whimpers bring Jong-woo back to his senses. He immediately drops the knife in horror.
Completely freaked out, Ji-eun storms out of the hotel, shaking off Jong-woo as he pleads with her to let him explain. She screams that she’d been writing off his weird behavior as trouble adjusting to the city and had hoped he’d return to normal in time. Now, however, she suggests they take a break and quickly crawls into a taxi before Jong-woo can argue.
While investigating the disappearance of Detective Cha, Jung-hwa had found CCTV footage showing his car driving up a mountain, but not returning. She heads to the mountain and stops a man walking along the path, asking if he’d seen an abandoned vehicle. He points her in the direction of where one could be hidden and Jung-hwa is disturbed to find a canister similar to the one she’d seen in the back of the twins’ van. Walking on, Jung-hwa comes across the charred remains of Detective Cha’s car, and calls maknae Hyun-ho to confirm the ID number of the vehicle.
Back in the hotel room, Jong-woo checks his phone to find texts from Seok-yoon, reporting that he drank with Moon-jo and didn’t think he was so bad. Jong-woo starts to reply that he’s crazy, but something feels off so he calls instead. The call goes unanswered and Jong-woo realizes Seok-yoon didn’t send that text. Scooping up his bag and the discarded knife, he rushes off to the goshiwon, frantically texting Seok-yoon to contact him.
In the mountains, Jung-hwa is shooed away when a team of detectives arrive to investigate the car. Detective Lee chides her for not following proper protocols and Jung-hwa points out that she had told them Detective Cha’s disappearance was likely due to foul play. Detective Lee waves off her suspicions as wild conjecture after finding a random syringe but they’re interrupted by another detective informing them that a body has been found with needle marks in his neck.
Jong-woo arrives at Eden Goshiwon, gripping his knife as he steels himself to rescue Seok-yoon. As he tramps up the stairs, a woman exits the first floor and complains that the Eden residents are being too noisy. She freezes at the sight of Jong-woo’s knife and he continues upstairs. The 3rd floor is quiet and there’s no response when Jong-woo calls for Seok-yoon at his door.
Cautiously opening the door, he jumps when Seok-yoon pops up behind him, laughing that he wanted to play a joke. Jong-woo grabs his collar and snaps that it isn’t funny. Brandishing the knife, he demands to know if Seok-yoon is in cahoots with their neighbors. Seok-yoon awkwardly chuckles that he’s on Jong-woo’s side and then Moon-jo’s voice whispers down the hallway, “Don’t you think you feel the warmth in your hands?”
The hallway is empty, however, so Jong-woo releases Seok-yoon. Jong-woo darkly warns him to get out of the goshiwon, but Seok-yoon continues his stilted cheerful tone as he admits he can’t. He tries to take Jong-woo’s hand as he shakily says they don’t need to fear their neighbors, having realized that they’re good people.
Jong-woo shakes him off, spitting that he’s crazy. Seok-yoon calls after Jong-woo as he walks away, begging him to come back as we see blood dripping down Seok-yoon’s ankle. He tries to shuffle after Jong-woo, tears in his eyes as he pleads with him to live together and watch him perform. Jong-woo ignores his cries and leaves.
As soon as he’s gone, Moon-jo pokes his head out of his own room, tutting “See? You think you’re close, but you’re all strangers in the end.” Seok-yoon sniffs that he tried his best and Moon-jo acknowledges his effort. Alas, he still failed and Moon-jo grabs his head as he says Seok-yoon will now face punishment.
At the same time, Nam-bok grabs Hee-joong’s head and tsks that he’d thought Hee-joong would be dead by now. He promises to slice Hee-joong up along with everyone else and sticks his knife into Hee-joong’s side. Hee-joong headbutts him and Nam-bok angrily wipes blood from his nose before knocking Hee-joong out with a bottle. Before he can do more damage, Nam-bok leaves to answer a call.
It’s his parole officer and Nam-bok assures him he’s home as he swings the phone around to show the stairwell. The P.O. says Nam-bok’s ankle bracelet is showing a low battery and he needs to return to his room and charge it immediately or else the police will come. Nam-bok promises to do so, cursing in his native tongue as soon as the call ends.
Bok-soon finds him there and Nam-bok is surprised that she can speak Mandarin. She tells him her ex-ex-husband was an expat and Nam-bok offers her to come to his room if she ever feels lonely. Bok-soon tells him she could always tell which kids at the orphanage were liars from their eyes and accuses Nam-bok of lying now. She laughs and tells him her husband had died by slipping and falling down the stairs, cackling that he should watch his step.
The body the detectives had found was Jae-ho’s and Jung-hwa cautiously asks if the syringe had been found. An officer starts to say no, but Detective Lee cuts him off to tell her they’ll autopsy the body and if the drug used on Jae-ho is the same as the one in the syringe, then he’ll go check out Eden Goshiwon. Jung-hwa tries to argue that someone else could die before then and Detective Lee kicks her out.
In the operation room on the 4th floor, Seok-yoon sobs as Moon-jo sighs that he’d wanted to know what happened on the 4th floor and to the previous tenant of his room. Moon-jo holds up a chain of teeth, smiling, “They’re all here.” Then he grabs his tool and rips a tooth out of Seok-yoon’s mouth. Meanwhile, Bok-soon has gone downstairs to feed Hee-joong and frowns at the blood pooling around him, griping that Nam-bok had dared to mark her “property.”
Deuk-jeong returns to his room and pulls out a stack of memory cards hidden in a shoe box. He giggles that his twin is the best and flashes back to earlier when he’d found Reporter Jo lurking outside. He’d promised to give Reporter Jo an exclusive on a serial killer. Reporter Jo asked if he was after money, but Deuk-jeong said he wanted to teach someone a lesson. He’d added that it’s not one, but two guys and offered to bring Reporter Jo evidence.
Moon-jo continues ripping teeth from Seok-yoon’s mouth, wondering how Jong-woo will feel upon receiving them. Seok-yoon pleads for his life, but Moon-jo just tells him to wait while he adds these teeth to the chain (which I now see is a charm bracelet). Meanwhile, Ji-eun holds the doll keychain Jong-woo had given her while he stands outside her building. He starts to text an apology, but deletes it and heads to an internet cafe instead.
The next morning, maknae Hyun-ho finds Jung-hwa sleeping at their desk, having spent all night researching the goshiwon. Elsewhere, Jong-woo receives a text that Jae-ho has died and instantly knows Moon-jo is the culprit. He then recalls Seok-yoon’s desperate pleading last night and realizes the mistake he made leaving him behind.
Jong-woo immediately calls the police to report the murders at the goshiwon, but the officer sighs when Jong-woo admits he witnessed nothing. His report is written off as a drunken prank and Jong-woo screams that people are dying before angrily hanging up. The phone rings again and he forces down tears as he answers his mother. Mom suspects something is wrong but Jong-woo assures her everything is fine and they hang up after Mom reminds him she’s always there for him.
Bok-soon meets the downstairs woman and they chat about the woman’s son, who’s studying for the Civil Service Exam. Bok-soon says she should’ve sent her son to Eden Goshiwon, laughing that it would’ve assured his success. The woman starts to speak ill of Eden, but catches herself and says he’s already studying at a private academy. Bok-soon’s smile falters, however, as she asks the woman to accompany her. They relocate to a karaoke bar.
Jong-woo stops by Jae-ho’s funeral. He heads into the bathroom, wondering why it happened. His reflection laughs, “Do you really not now? You killed him.” The reflection smirks that he killed both Jae-ho and Seok-yoon. Jong-woo blinks back that he didn’t, repeating the phrase until he’s interrupted by co-worker, Sang-man, asking what he’s doing.
Back at Eden, Moon-jo reads Jong-woo’s book to Seok-yoon, who remains strapped to the chair, crying quietly to himself. Deuk-jeong joins them to report that he finished cleaning up, but wonders whether Jong-woo will return. Moon-jo says Jong-woo will be back soon to accept his gift. Deuk-jeong tells Seok-yoon living here is the best as you can kill whoever you want.
Moon-jo rises and tells Deuk-jeong to finish up because he has things to take care of before they leave. He meets Bok-soon on his way out and looking at the package in his hand, she smiles that Jong-woo is lucky. She stops him to ask what they’re going to do about the others when they leave. Moon-jo is confused and Bok-soon explains that if Jong-woo returns, they’ll need to dispose of the other two and Moon-jo agrees. “We’ll now only have the good ones here, right?” she smiles.
Upstairs, Deuk-jeong offers Seok-yoon some meat but Seok-yoon just continues to beg for his life. Deuk-jeong laments that Seok-yoon was snatched by the wrong person. He grows angry as he growls that Moon-jo does as he pleases and even killed Deuk-soon. Deuk-jeong wonders if he should just kill him and then offers Seok-yoon a bet. Cutting him free, Deuk-jeong gives him until Moon-jo returns to try and run away.
Seok-yoon stumbles into the hallway while Deuk-jeong calls out to him like they’re playing hide-and-seek. Bok-soon runs into Seok-yoon before he can reach the stairwell and she hides him as Deuk-jeong begins to search, wielding a hatchet. Deuk-jeong asks if Bok-soon had seen him, and she says she thought she’d heard sounds on the roof, but snickers and points to the blanket she’d hidden Seok-yoon under.
They feign leaving and when the room falls silent, Seok-yoon cautiously stands. The other two pop out and Seok-yoon stares in horror before Deuk-jeong knocks him out with the hatchet.
Jung-hwa and Hyun-ho return from their patrol and she notices a box with a kitten at the station. Hyun-ho explains someone had mixed poison in with cat food and only this kitten had survived. She suspects Eden Goshiwon and recalls Jong-woo crying that the people there were strange. She tries to call him, but Jong-woo has decided to consider everything a nightmare and doesn’t answer.
A young man runs over to him and Jong-woo recognizes him as the officer, Chang-hyun, that had fetched him to deal with Sergeant Cho (that resulted in Jong-woo beating him within an inch of his life). Chang-hyun cheerfully wonders how Jong-woo is before noticing the scrapes on his face and hands.
At the station, Jung-hwa sighs at Jong-woo not answering her call. She pets the kitten and wonders whether she’s really a police officer when she can’t do anything. At the same time, Reporter Jo rendezvous with Deuk-jeong for the evidence Deuk-jeong promised. He passes over a cookie tin with the memory cards Deuk-soon had kept and Reporter Jo says the article will be up that evening.
Deuk-jeong drives off as Reporter Jo starts typing it up immediately… unaware that Moon-jo is standing beside him. “Do you like murders?” he asks, startling Reporter Jo. Next thing we know, Moon-jo is at a telephone booth, calling in an anonymous report of a body. Jung-hwa’s unit responds and find Reporter Jo stabbed to death in his car.
Chang-hyun takes Jong-woo to eat, growing ever more confused as Jong-woo looks about nervously and asks to relocate to a corner of the restaurant. Jong-woo finally answers Chang-hyun’s question of what he’s doing in Seoul, saying he’d gotten a job through his sunbae. Chang-hyun asks where he lives and comments on Jong-woo’s jumpiness. Jong-woo doesn’t answer, so Chang-hyun explains that he called out to Jong-woo because he considers him like a brother and has always been grateful to Jong-woo.
He recalls how his father had died when he’d entered the army and Jong-woo was the only one that cared for and looked out for him. He says no one has done that for him since and he often thinks of Jong-woo and wants to help him.
Detective Lee shows up at the scene with his team and Jung-hwa asks if this murder is related to Jae-ho’s. Detective Lee dismisses the idea, saying that the M.O.’s are completely different. He admits that the two men knew each other, but denies there’s any reason to think the goshiwon is involved.
After Jong-woo has finished confiding everything, Chang-hyun agrees that he’s up a creek. He tries to work through Jong-woo’s assertions that everyone that’s left Eden has gone missing and are likely dead or imprisoned on the forbidden 4th floor. Chang-hyun says it doesn’t make sense and asks if Jong-woo spoke to the police. Jong-woo replies the police assumed he was drunk.
Ji-eun calls and when he answers the phone, he’s appalled to hear her crying. A flashback reveals that she’d received a text from Jae-ho’s phone last night (the one Moon-jo stole). As she walked outside to meet him, she’d texted that he sounded different, realizing too late that he shouldn’t have known she was home. She calls the phone and hears his ringtone as Moon-jo approaches her.
He hands her a cake box, saying Jong-woo had sent him to deliver it. She asks where Jong-woo is and Moon-jo offers to take her to him. She’d declined and walked away. When she looked back, only the cake box remained. As she rushed for the door, Moon-jo jumped out and attacked her. In the present, she shakily calls for Jong-woo before Moon-jo pulls the phone back and speaks himself.
“Your girlfriend wants to see you,” Moon-jo sighs. Jong-woo urges him not to harm her but Moon-jo ignores him and says that she wants him to stay just as Seok-yoon did. “Will you run away again?” he asks, coolly. Chang-hyun grows alarmed at Jong-woo’s outbursts as Jong-woo growls that he’ll kill Moon-jo and demands to know where he is.
“I’m excited,” Moon-jo smiles, “I’ll be waiting in your room.” Jong-woo runs out to catch a cab and Chang-hyun forces himself inside, saying Jong-woo can’t go into a den of psychos alone. As they stand outside Eden Gosihwon, Jong-woo thinks to himself, “If I go inside, can I come back out alive? But at that moment I realized that… I can no longer escape or hide.”
Deep breath… and sigh. I know that blaming Ji-eun for our current predicament is pointless. Moon-jo could’ve just as easily snatched her without the ruse but I’d be lying if I wasn’t enraged at her utter stupidity. I can’t fault her for detaching herself from Jong-woo after his little mental breakdown that resulted in a knife at her throat, but the fact that she recognized Jae-ho’s texts were off and didn’t immediately run back inside makes me bang my head against my desk in frustration. As an avid fan of the horror genre, I often am met with foolish characters (unfortunately most often of the female variety) that are impossibly stupid in order to further the plot. I get it, but it never ceases to rub me the wrong way.
More than anything, the show’s lack of willingness to ingratiate Ji-eun to me leaves me feeling little care for her safety. I don’t want her to die, but I also don’t particularly care if she does. Seok-yoon, on the other hand, and even Hee-joong, I am hoping against hope to somehow survive this ordeal. Hee-joong has made it this far and honestly, if any character deserves to make it to the end, I’d say he does. Whatever crimes he’d committed prior to his stint at Eden Goshiwon I think he’s paid for with the torture the residents have put him through. With all the death that takes place there, I’m just as stunned as Nam-bok that he’s survived this long!
And poor Seok-yoon… We still don’t know what brought him to Eden, unless everything he’d told Jong-woo was the truth and the weirdness with borrowing Jong-woo’s charger a few episodes back was just an oddity that will go unexplained. With only one episode left, I’m hoping we finally get some clear answers, but I’m not holding my breath. This show is meant to be disjointed and unsettling and there’s really nothing more-so than unanswered questions. Sometimes people are homicidal maniacs without much reason. Still, it’s certainly been an interesting run so far and I’m excited to see how it all comes together. Will Jong-woo finally be pushed to kill, thereby falling into Moon-jo’s trap? Will Jong-woo be killed? Will it all turn out to be the novel he’s writing and none of this ever happened? I guess we’ll find out soon.
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