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Hwayugi: Episode 4

You know what’s great about involuntary mystical love? Everything. I’m really tickled by the direction of the story, which has become romantic very quickly, and very hilariously at that. It probably doesn’t come as a shock that Monkey is unfamiliar with love and its attendant mood swings, and watching him bumble his way around these newfound feelings is unexpectedly affecting, and just plain fun.

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

Mischievous (and now lovesick) Monkey King Sohn Oh-gong lands on the perfect scheme to get free from the mystical circlet that binds his heart to Sun-mi, who carries the fate of monk Sam-jang. Her employee Han-joo is about to become zombie dinner, and Oh-gong offers to save him if she removes the circlet.

Sun-mi very nearly falls for it, until the crafty Mawang shows up to stop her just in time. He reminds her to trust in the power of the circlet, so this time she grabs Oh-gong’s hand and says that he didn’t leave her alone to suffer before, and asks sincerely for his help and runs off to save Han-joo.

Oh-gong knows she won’t make it there in time, but Mawang knows that Oh-gong will save him anyway, and thoroughly enjoys mocking him for not wanting to leave Sun-mi scared, sad, or alone. “Will you be able to withstand her tears?” he singsongs in glee.

Oh-gong imagines her crying over Han-joo’s dead body, and Mawang is shocked to see the circlet in action: It glows as the tendrils around his heart tighten and cause him pain. Oh-gong insists that he’s not affected at all… as a stream of tears falls down his cheek. Hahaha.

He doesn’t even realize he’s crying until Mawang wipes away the tear and alerts him to the fact, and teaches him the very basic correlation—if Sun-mi hurts, Oh-gong hurts too. He’s flabbergasted and asks angrily why it should hurt him if she’s in pain, and Mawang sings, “Because I love you,” but to the tune of Lee Seung-gi’s “Because You’re My Woman.” LOL. The mockery has reached a new level of meta.

In Sun-mi’s apartment, Zombie Girl is just about to snack on Han-joo when Oh-gong appears and tosses her aside. Han-joo is spooked to see him there, and Oh-gong just yells at him to get out and pushes him out the door without explanation, leaving him baffled. That’s how Sun-mi finds him, but he’s even more confused when she lights up to hear that “he” came.

She rushes inside to find Oh-gong waiting for her, with Zombie Girl stuffed into a giant duffel bag at his side, ha. He says that Mawang was right about the power of the circlet being stronger than he thought, and sighs that he’s not the type of being to be cleaning up after some lowly human.

Sun-mi thinks it’s right that he should hate her for it, but he says he can’t do that right now and tenderly sweeps the hair out of her face. He says it was the right choice not to remove the circlet, because he surely would’ve eaten her the moment she’d freed him.

Despite knowing it already, Sun-mi seems sad to realize that his protecting her is only because of the circlet, which he readily confirms with a smile. Then he offers to take care of Zombie Girl and wheels her away in the bag.

In his office, Mawang confirms with Secretary Ma that Sun-mi signed his contract, and she goes to lock it up in a safe place when Mawang can sense that Oh-gong is near. But she only gets a few feet away before realizing that it’s not the original contract, and Mawang says warily that he can’t let Oh-gong get his hands on the original.

She seems combative about the lack of trust… but then we see why when Mawang turns to her and calls her “Great Sage, Equal to Heaven.” The real Secretary Ma runs in looking disheveled and gasps to see her doppelganger sitting there, and Oh-gong snarls before transforming back to his real form.

Mawang says he knew the moment Oh-gong prepared only one wine glass, since Secretary Ma would’ve had a drink with him. He obviously has no intention of breaking his contract with Sun-mi, but Oh-gong threatens to just turn Lucifer Entertainment into rubble so that she will have signed with a nonexistent company.

To prove how serious he is, Oh-gong clinks Mawang’s wine glass with one flick of his finger, and the reverberation starts an earthquake that shakes the entire building. But Mawang is able to use his own powers to steady the glass, so Oh-gong then starts building a glowing ball of blue light in his palm. Dragon ball time!

Mawang counters with his own glowing ball of red light, and they’re locked in a standstill as the firepower between them grows. But before they can do any real damage, Patriarch arrives to defuse the situation and offers to negotiate a truce as a representative from heaven.

Oh-gong whines that Mawang is using him to gain points in heaven, while Mawang argues that it’s his fault he lost points in the first place and isn’t a Taoist immortal already, because Oh-gong escaped his mountain prison.

Patriarch offers to add a clause to the contract to smooth things over—a time limit, so that the contract is only valid until Sun-mi fulfills her calling as monk Sam-jang. Once she has completed her heavenly duty, Oh-gong is free.

Mawang is okay with the terms, though Oh-gong thinks he’s still on the losing end of this bargain. Patriarch reminds him that he has a lot of sins to pay for, and Mawang adds that humans live barely a hundred years at best, so Sun-mi will only be alive for a few more decades. That hurts Oh-gong’s heart, and he snaps at him to stop saying that Sun-mi will die. Aw.

Oh-gong has one more condition to add, and demands Mawang’s house. Mawang says he’s already found Oh-gong his own place, but Oh-gong wants that house, where the parking is convenient and the bathtub is large. Mawang looks ready to get into a bloodbath over it, but Patriarch convinces him to agree on co-ownership, thinking that they’re lucky the temperamental Oh-gong has agreed to the contract at all.

Later, Secretary Ma worries to see Mawang weakened from exerting too much power during his fight with Oh-gong. He insists that he’s fine, though his knees buckle and his nose bleeds.

She asks why he’s taking the long way to become an immortal when he could just eat the monk himself and become immensely powerful, but he says that only as a Taoist immortal can he have power over human life and death and fate: “Only then can I save her.”

He finally acknowledges his bloody nose and plugs it with his finger to stop the bleeding, and PK fangirls in the lobby snap photos of him, thinking that he’s picking his nose. Secretary Ma offers to kill them, and he just tells her to erase the photos while whining that he wasn’t picking his nose.

At the General Store full of magical odds and ends, the peddler senses energy coming from the bad omen jar, and wonders if a great misfortune will befall the human world. As she turns away, a white light begins to crack the jar and seep through.

Sun-mi mulls over the contract and her monkey doll Yook-gong, wondering if she should’ve freed Oh-gong when he asked. But she remembers that she would’ve been his dinner the moment she’d done that, and decides that she’ll just refrain from summoning him often so that she’s not bothersome.

Oh-gong sits in his liquor cellar polishing the various bottles he’s collected over the years, and decides that he can endure this contract if he knows there’s an end in sight.

Meanwhile, Mawang polishes his bull statue while trying to convince himself that he’s only going to give Oh-gong half the house and he’ll reclaim it someday, though it’s not much of a consolation.

Elsewhere, a young woman (Bora) gorges on an enormous spread of takeout food and then weighs herself, pleased that she’s somehow lost weight. What she doesn’t see is a creepy baby demon floating above her, literally feeding on her.

In the morning, Mawang flips out to open his fridge and find Zombie Girl stuffed inside. She says casually that she doesn’t know who she is, but that she followed “Oh-gong oppa” here. PK says he’s the oppa and Oh-gong is too high up to be called oppa, though she murmurs that she likes Oh-gong better.

PK says that Oh-gong told her to stay here, but made her go in the fridge because she smells. Ha. Mawang is not pleased to have a rotting corpse in his refrigerator, and sits her down to talk. She doesn’t remember anything other than waking up a zombie, and all she knows is that she had one thought: to find Sun-mi.

PK adds that her eyesight and voice came back when he fed her some of Mawang’s ki balls full of human life force, and Mawang gripes that they fed such a precious thing to a zombie.

He refuses to leave her in his home, and decides to take her with him to work in the duffel bag she came in. Unfortunately, the security guard runs over to help him lift the bag into his trunk, and gets a whiff of rotting corpse. Thinking quickly, Mawang says his body odor is getting out of hand lately and chases him off.

In the end, PK is tasked with taking the zombie back to Sun-mi. Sun-mi’s employee Han-joo watches agape as she runs out to meet idol superstar PK and says she’s heading out to her first Lucifer Entertainment gig.

In PK’s van, he tells Sun-mi that because Zombie Girl was reanimated with her blood, she has to be the one to burn and get rid of her. Sun-mi is sad about the fact that the girl doesn’t know how she died and will never be found, and asks if they can’t let her live until they at least find her name.

PK says that the zombie will just turn more and more demonic the longer it lives, not to mention the horrible stench. But Sun-mi pleads with him to let the zombie live until before it becomes a full-fledged demon, and PK wonders to himself if this is an opportunity.

So off they go with zombie in tow, first to meet Frosty, so that he can freeze Zombie Girl to keep the stench at bay. PK requests a kimchi-level chill, not a full freeze, and Frosty complies.

Next they go to the bartender, whom PK finally introduces as Frosty’s little sister, Summer Fairy. Her assignment is to make Zombie Girl over so that she looks less dead, and Summer Fairy mistakenly thinks that Sun-mi is the one needing a makeover, heh.

While Summer Fairy takes the zombie away, Sun-mi asks if Fairy and Frosty aren’t the same person, and PK says they’re two completely different souls—one a man, the other a woman—inhabiting the same body. She’s the summer to Frosty’s winter. Ah, well that explains a lot.

Summer Fairy returns with Zombie Girl looking shockingly not dead, and Zombie Girl smiles for the first time as she bows in gratitude… which makes her eyeball pop right out of its socket, pfft.

Sun-mi asks Oh-gong’s friend CEO Sa to look into the towel that Zombie Girl’s corpse was wrapped in, and he helps her gain entry into Kingdom hotel’s health club, where the towel is from. (As in this Kingdom?)

PK guesses that Zombie Girl was rich if she was a member of that club, and dubs her Buja (“rich”), which Sun-mi thinks is a good nickname until they find out her real name. They ask an employee if she recognizes Buja’s face, but she doesn’t, and Sun-mi gets distracted by the sight of that young woman with a giant demon baby feeding on her.

The woman brags to her friend on the phone about her new diet and how it lets her eat anything and not gain a pound, and Sun-mi wonders if she should call Oh-gong, or if he’d get mad for being summoned over a trivial matter. Before she can call him though, someone finds Buja sleeping and thinks she’s dead, and the girls hurriedly escape before they’re found out.

CEO Sa visits Oh-gong at home with a housewarming gift and PK is there as well to celebrate the new home. Oh-gong says he’s letting Mawang live here because he has nowhere else to go, and makes sure CEO Sa uses the bull statue as a coatrack.

CEO Sa gets to cooking right away, happy that he’s able to take care of the house properly now that it’s partly Oh-gong’s. Both PK and CEO Sa get simultaneous texts from Sun-mi about the zombie girl, and Oh-gong is miffed to learn that they started a chatroom without him.

Even Frosty, Summer Fairy, and Secretary Ma are in the chatroom, and Oh-gong refuses to have CEO Sa send him an invite, insisting that he’s too busy for such things. It only gets worse when PK assumes that Oh-gong was in the chatroom all along and then innocently offers to invite him. Oh-gong erupts, “Don’t invite me! I will kill you if you invite me!”

Cue: chatroom notification. Awkward! PK giggles over a joke that Summer Fairy posted, which is the last straw for Oh-gong, and he stomps off to his room and huffs to himself, “I didn’t even feel this pathetic when I was ousted from heaven!” Pouty monkey is so cute.

Sun-mi does some research and finds that there have been two cases of women dying of anorexia recently, and both were members of that gym. She wonders if that monster she saw was something dangerous, and ponders calling Oh-gong for help. But again, she hesitates.

At work, Sun-mi gives Han-joo an autograph from PK for his daughter, and learns that he also collects model photos at his wife’s request to post in front of her scale. She recognizes one right away as the woman from the gym, and has Secretary Ma meet with her.

Secretary Ma confirms that the woman has been tattooed by a glutton demon that’s feeding off of her, and Mawang tells Sun-mi that she must get rid of the source, not just the tattoo. They say that she’s the only one who can attract the demon, because it only feeds on human vanity.

Oh-gong pitches a fit when Buja runs the air conditioner to keep her freshness up, and barks at her to turn the heat back on and sit in the fridge, which she should consider a luxury compared to the coffin she should be sitting in.

He scoffs to see that she’s been given a cell phone, and that she is, of course, a member of that damned chatroom he’s been excluded from. She says that everyone’s at Summer Fairy’s bar, and he pretends not to care, until she reads a text from Sun-mi about going to fight a demon alone.

He says he isn’t going, still upset about not being invited to the chatroom. He does read that the zombie’s name is Jin Buja, and she says that she’s taking Sun-mi’s surname because she has her blood. That’s cute.

He grumbles that it must be nice for Sun-mi to have someone take her name, but Buja says that Oh-gong is the most special person to Sun-mi, pointing out that while she’s in a group chatroom, he has a direct line to her. He looks at the circlet on his wrist and smiles to realize that he has something better than a chatroom invitation.

Buja mentions that Sun-mi is heading to a club, so of course Oh-gong is there in a flash. Sun-mi arrives all dolled up in a red dress, and tamps down her nerves when she sees that almost everyone there is tattooed by the same glutton demon.

She finds the woman from the gym in the bathroom and says that she’s envious of her figure, and the woman offers to share her diet secret so that she can eat all she wants and lose weight too. She puts a hand on Sun-mi’s shoulder, and the tattoo splits in half and travels down her arm, stamping itself onto Sun-mi.

Oh-gong looks all over the club and spots the woman with the giant glutton demon feeding on her, and makes it poof away just by touching the tattoo. He finally finds Sun-mi sitting at a table gorging on food, and at first he’s smitten by the red dress, but then he notices her tattoo.

She stops him from removing it right away, asking if she can’t leave it on for a week and eat whatever she wants, but he gives her a stern look and makes the tattoo vanish without giving her a choice.

They go back to the gym to find the trainer Sun-mi met last time, who confesses to being the tattoo artist, but is only a hired fraud who does it for money and has no idea she’s doing a demon’s bidding.

Sun-mi asks Oh-gong where the demon came from, and he says that it originates from the weak heart of humans who want to hang on to something, even if it’s a lie. The words seem to affect her in more ways than one, and then she notices a woman stand on the scale to weigh herself, overcome with self-hate when she hasn’t lost any weight.

We see that the scale is the source, drawing more and more power from every person who gets on it and hates what they see, wishing they could die. The black energy builds and builds, until finally it possesses the woman right before Sun-mi’s eyes.

The glutton demon dares Sun-mi to get rid of her, saying that she’ll have to kill the woman she’s possessing first, so Sun-mi slices her finger and tells the demon to come to her, and it effectively draws the demon out.

Except now she’s facing off with a ginormous glutton demon. She calls out, “Sohn Oh-gong!” and he appears at her side in a flash, sipping on a drink. Oh-gong swats at the glutton a few times but it just keeps rematerializing, and he finally thinks to destroy the scale rather than the giant glutton baby, which works like a charm.

Mawang is pleased to hear that they defeated the glutton demon properly, and Patriarch muses that human weakness is making more and more demons these days. “I worry that it’ll turn the world into hell for real,” he says.

Mawang asks if that’s why he sent the monk down now, “Because the door to hell might open? Is she the sacrifice to block the door to hell?” Oh I don’t like the sound of that.

At the same time, the bad omen jar at the General Store cracks a little more, and the peddler worries that it’ll overflow very soon.

Oh-gong grabs Sun-mi’s hand and covers her cut with a bandage, nagging her for bleeding again, which he reminds her is a very dangerous thing to do. She admits to not summoning him because he’s a powerful immortal, but all he hears is that she wanted to call him, and takes that to mean that she missed him.

She considers it more like a burden, because she feels bad for tying him to a lowly human like herself. He looks at the circlet and she’s surprised when he doesn’t ask her to remove it, and he says, “Even if you don’t remove it, it’ll come off someday, so until then I’ll just love you.” You mean for the rest of her life?

But then he takes her hand and adds, “A love that will end and disappear without a trace—I’ll just heap it onto you, crazily.” She asks what he means about it disappearing, and he says of course it’ll vanish: “Because my feelings are fake. It will end, and you will be alone again.”

Then he adds brightly, like he didn’t just crush her heart: “Until then, I’ll be by your side. I love you, Jin Sun-mi.” Augh, what a horrible confession.

Mawang and Oh-gong feast for breakfast thanks to CEO Sa, and Mawang complains that Buja is starting to rot again. She says it’s Oh-gong’s fault for keeping the temperature so high, and he snaps at her to just sit in the freezer until he thaws her in the spring, and she starts to cry while the other two give him disapproving glares.

The chatroom notifications start up again, and Oh-gong is peeved to see that even Mawang has been invited. I love this running gag. Mawang offers to invite Oh-gong, who pretends like he’s going to cave just to be nice, except CEO Sa interrupts to say that Oh-gong doesn’t want to be bothered. LOL.

So then he has to sit there stewing impotently while everyone laughs at the inside jokes going on in the chatroom, and despite the giant monkey pout, no one seems to notice why he’s so mad.

Sun-mi invites everyone to a New Year’s party at Summer Fairy’s bar, and happily shops for supplies at the market. She runs into the General Store’s grandson, who’s been waiting to take her to his grandmother. Sun-mi points out that they’re miles away, but he just smirks and leads her through a portal right to the store.

She’s left alone in the front, where she notices the bad omen jar with giant cracks in it. Almost as if it’s been waiting for her, it starts to glow and the water spills out at her feet, and she can’t look away.

This time the force of the vision is so strong that it transports her there, and she finds herself standing on a rooftop. She looks out and gasps to see the apocalyptic cityscape before her—buildings on fire, bridges collapsing, fighter jets zooming overhead.

Soon the entire city is swallowed up by a mushroom cloud, and the blast transports her back to reality, where the bad omen jar lies in pieces on the floor.

Patriarch arrives to see that she’s already seen what she needs to see, and tells her that it’s her heavenly calling to stop those events from happening. Gee, no pressure or anything.

She’s understandably shaken up when she gets home, and the New Year’s party begins without her. They watch on television as political figures line up to ring the New Year’s bell as always, and Buja seems to recognize the handsome history professor Kang Dae-sung, who’s supposedly a potential presidential candidate.

She says she’s seen him before, and recalls noticing him at the Kingdom gym. The others assume that she saw him the other day while she was with Sun-mi, but she doesn’t seem so sure.

Sun-mi is broken from her reverie when snow begins to fall, and Oh-gong beams from his liquor cellar when she calls him name. He appears before her and notes that she’s already different now that it’s a new year, and she says it’s because her situation has changed: “I saw the world broken.”

Mawang learns from Patriarch that Sun-mi saw a vision of the world after the door to hell is opened, and asks how a human is supposed to cope with something like that. Patriarch says that’s why he’s put Oh-gong by her side.

Mawang says he’ll ask his question again: “Is the sacrifice needed to block hell’s door Sam-jang, or is it Sohn Oh-gong?”

Sun-mi tells Oh-gong that she’s actually far more important a person than she realized, and asks if he’ll protect her and stay by her side no matter what happens. He says he will, so she reassures herself that she can do this.

“Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, Sohn Oh-gong, protect me until the end,” she says.

He answers, “I will. Even if the world breaks, I will protect you.”

 
COMMENTS

Monkey always comes back around to swoony when it counts, and even though I know his love isn’t real (yet), he feels it as if it’s real moment by moment, which is going to change him down the line. It already has to a great degree, from the minor things like feeling left out of the group chatroom (so petty, so funny) to the major things like saving someone’s life to prevent Sun-mi’s grief and pain. He already spends his days waiting around for her to call, though I did grumble in today’s episode over the fact that they spent so much time apart. I liked it better when he was popping by with moony eyes and monkey dolls.

Now that we’re aware of the Big Bad—the door to hell busting open and unleashing hell on earth—the overarching plot has a little more substance to it than just fighting demons till the cows come home, which is fine as a procedural device but has much less urgency to drive the plot. This twist, on the other hand, sets the stakes much higher if Mawang’s suspicion is true, and either Sun-mi or Oh-gong will have to die to close the door again.

I’m sure there’s a loophole in there somewhere and I trust clever Monkey of all people to find it, but I like that the stakes are so massive, because in every other instance I know where a door to hell had to be closed, someone had to die to do it (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural). There’s nothing like a good ol’ apocalypse to give your heroes purpose, especially when Sun-mi’s entire life goal up till now was to survive, and Oh-gong’s was something between drinking 2,983 bottles of liquor and chilling out in heaven.

But it’s really the contractual involuntary love that makes this story ingenious and fresh, because it puts Oh-gong at cross purposes with himself at every turn. He resents Sun-mi for shackling him and wants her to suffer and die so he’ll be free, but he can’t bear the thought of her suffering or a world without her. He’s vengeful enough to remind her that his love is fake, but his actions speak differently, and he always comes through for her. There’s such a great dramatic duality to this relationship, and it really keeps me on my toes not to know where to draw the line between spell love and real love.

And when Oh-gong makes promises to protect Sun-mi, I believe that he means it. I found the swooniest thing of all to be Oh-gong’s negotiation with Mawang over the length of his contract, because without batting an eyelash, he effectively agreed to love Sun-mi for the rest of her life. Maybe he thinks she won’t live that long, and to him it’s just a couple of decades at most in an immortal existence, but to Sun-mi that’s her entire life, and induced by a bracelet or not, he potentially agreed to be in love with her until the day she dies. I found it highly ironic that he saw it as an exit strategy, while to anyone else it’s a lifelong commitment. Oh to see the look on his face when he learns a thing or two about the way love actually works.

 
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'Monkey always comes back around to swoony when it counts' - oh you bet JB! I am officially in love with LSG, have been watching all his previous dramas lately, which is funny, I haven't seen any of his projects before, and it's like I have discovered him only now. <3

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Isn't the presidential candidate here, run for presidency too in Reply 1997?
It seems like this drama gives a nod to many reference, but I can't see them all.
Oh, and Winner picture at Ma Wang office.

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Thank you for the review, @girlfriday! You’ve incisively captured in words the brilliant aspects of the Hong Sisters, when they do it right.

This episode takes me back to classic Hong Sisters moments like meta (on meta), cameos, throwaway mentions (so many!) and all the little moments that make a funny whole...with heart.

I’m loving the dynamics of this motley crew that form a family of sorts, and as you’ve so deftly described, that of the relationship between the leads. I didn’t get the bit re: SOG signing up for life, and truly enjoyed reading this insightful observation of yours.

And I’ll admit that while I still find badass Seunggi a little uneven in the delivery, his rapscallion antics do crack me up!

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I think Sun-mi is gonna be the sacrifice for Oh-gong close the hell door. Like she 'll be volunteer for this..like eat me and save the world. :(

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Yay.. So loving hwayugi..
But I must say I fell for the poor monkey king having the one sided crushon the monk because I can testify that in real life there is nothing funny about having a one sided crush. It sucks, poor me I am also going through that phase and it is no fun and no matter how hard you slap yourself, the heart wants what it wants.

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The last screencap just made me wanna shout "SEUNG GI AH"!!!!!!!

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Agreeing with comments that call for an expanded role for Buja. Lol the threat Buja poses at the start of this episode forms part of Oh Gong's trump card in negotiations with Sun Mi. The constant "I love you" and "I hate that I'm forced to love you" adds on to the poignant nature of scenes when Sun Mi just looks so forlornly at Oh Gong.
The only thing that kind of jars a little is Oh Gong's "weapon", the magical staff in the original Journey to the West, now resembles a more Holden version of the Sailor Moon wand. Could they not have given him a more, ahem, manly weapon? 😂

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Haha I was thinking the exact same thing! Why is his wand so lame? It feels like a prop from a Halloween costume...( Not a nice one)

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I was thinking it was a shame with all the manly costumes and accessories, surely they could do better with the wand. Lol

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