Hwayugi: Episode 9
Big changes are ahead as our characters face a game-changer, which opens us up for a wide-open future. Sure, love is all-powerful and compelling, but what happens when the magic threatens to fade and challenge fate? What is fate, even, if it can be changed? And if it can be diverted once, surely it can be diverted again… right?
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Sun-mi steps into a church, dressed as a bride, and walks down the aisle. Off to the side, Mawang plays the wedding march on the piano with great flair, and Sun-mi looks up at the bridegroom waiting for her—Oh-gong. She wonders, “How did this happen with him?”
Sun-mi thinks back to the moment in the street when the bell in her hand started to ring, and she’d seen Oh-gong smiling at her. She thinks this is the bell that signals the meeting of your fated match, not knowing that it’s actually the death bell that rings when someone meets the one destined to kill them.
Instead, Sun-mi thinks to herself, “Could it really be that I’ve met my fated-to-be husband?”
Oh-gong crooks a finger at Sun-mi and beckons her forward. She smiles bashfully, asking herself if she can trust the bell. He holds his hand out to her, then takes her bridal bouquet…
And shoves Sun-mi aside and flings the bouquet at the bridal ghost standing behind her. LOL, you mean this was all real and not a dream-metaphor?
Reality comes crashing in as Oh-gong chides Sun-mi for pausing mid-operation, then yells at Mawang to stop the piano display. (Hilariously, Mawang is not actually any good, throwing himself into an impassioned performance of banging on random keys.)
Then Secretary Ma steps in to tell Sun-mi they have to return her dress, and Mawang tsks at his secretary for picking something so old-fashioned, only to be told Sun-mi picked it out herself. Mawang and Secretary Ma point out that the fashion is about thirty years behind the curve, but Oh-gong protests their insults, saying, “Even wearing something as awful as this, she’s still pretty!”
Thoughts turn to lunch, and Oh-gong suggests all sorts of options that Mawang balks at, since they’re all beef. As the three monsters head off, Sun-mi turns back to imagine herself standing at the altar with Oh-gong, which brings a hopeful smile to her face.
She turns to find Oh-gong waiting for her, and he asks if she loves the idea of getting married so much. She denies it, but he points out that she’s already married him twice: once just now, and back then in the picture-world when she’d been taken as the demon’s bride.
He beckons her over, and tells her she’s free to marry him, and that he’ll accept her however many times she comes to him.
Sun-mi hears the bell ringing again, and interprets this as a happy sign.
Mawang, on the other hand, took Sun-mi’s words at face value when she’d assured him that she no longer has any expectations of Oh-gong, and that her mind is at ease. He tells this to Secretary Ma, who notes that Oh-gong’s feelings are quite different.
Mawang says it’s because the bracelet has made him fall in love, quoting Victor Hugo: “The reduction of the universe to a single being, the expansion of a single being even to God, that is love.”
Secretary Ma says that means that Sun-mi is now Oh-gong’s universe and his god, and that Mawang probably relates because he has also experienced a love like that. Growing pensive, Mawang wonders what his wife is doing in this lifetime, and what kind of pain she is enduring.
As his car pauses at a red light, a police car pulls up alongside his, but he doesn’t notice that his very own wife, Princess Iron Fan, is there in the backseat. Her face is wan, her hands bloodstained and cuffed.
At a bar, PK tells Dragon Prince (in Alice’s form) to find a new host, dismayed at getting caught in a scandal with her and determined to end their “relationship” now. He admits that he might have considered dating Alice casually, but he’s never had a dating scandal before and now Dragon Prince has ruined an important opportunity he’d been saving up.
PK explains that there’s someone he cares about who needs to become famous, but Dragon Prince has made it impossible for him to help her (presumably by raising her profile with a scandal). Dragon Prince guesses that he means Buja, and vows to find someone much better than PK to be his next host body.
With great reluctance, Oh-gong finds himself accompanying Sun-mi to pick up Han-joo’s two kids from school. The precocious Han-byul eyes Oh-gong with exactly the same amount of skepticism that he shows her, saying that she thought Jonathan would be picking her up. Oh-gong declines to be called “Uncle Oh-gong,” so the little girl just calls him Mr. Sohn, like her father does.
At the real estate office, Sun-mi leaves Oh-gong to watch the kids while she steps out on an errand. He tries to protest, warning that he’ll be terrible at this and possibly make her only employee quit, but she pulls a bit of aegyo that gets him to reluctantly agree.
Oh-gong warns the kids not to bother him with requests, but as he watches Han-byul drawing, he can’t keep quiet and starts pestering her on her subpar rendering of a brontosaurus. That escalates to taunting that they only know the name of one dinosaur and must not have studied anything in school, and he’s somehow surprised when they start to cry.
In a bid to get them to quiet, Oh-gong promises to show them a dinosaur. With a snap of his fingers, he conjures up a vision that has them staring in awe.
While waiting at the bank, Sun-mi notices two children nearby, dressed rather shabbily and the older boy sporting a big gash on one hand. She doesn’t make too much of it, and returns to the office to find it empty. She’s initially concerned, but finds that Oh-gong brought the kids to her next-door apartment for snacks (calling over CEO Sa to cook, heh).
PK’s here too, having been called by Oh-gong to sign autographs for the kids, while Buja draws with the children.
Oh-gong, on the other hand, is back to polishing his liquor collection, sighing that kids are really not his thing.
That night when Han-joo arrives to pick up his kids, they’re clinging to Sun-mi and refusing to go, because they had so much fun and met such cool people. Han-byul even declares that she’s going to marry Oh-gong and live in this office from now on.
At that, Sun-mi meets the little girl eye to eye and tells her very firmly that marriage is for fated matches, and that Oh-gong already has someone. Thus Han-byul cannot marry him. Ever.
Later when she’s home, Sun-mi smiles at the memory of Oh-gong telling her to marry him anytime, and takes out the little black bell. She wonders again if it could be true that she’s met her fated match.
Mawang tells Oh-gong of how the General Store owner’s grandson lost that bell, which could be dangerous if put into the hands of a human. He’s excited at the idea of recovering it and earning more points, but Oh-gong warns Mawang not to put Sun-mi on that task, not wanting her to be exposed to such ill fortune.
As for the two shabbily dressed kids from the bank, we come to them at home that night, sitting quietly in the dark while their father drinks nearby. The little girl is hungry, but her older brother warns her to hush, knowing that’ll set off their father. Unfortunately, she reaches for a toy ambulance that starts blaring its siren, and the boy tries to hush the noise by clutching the toy.
Dad reaches for a baseball bat, yelling that he told the kids to be quiet, and the boy grabs his father’s legs to buy his sister time to run into the bedroom.
The girl cries while her brother is beaten, looking over at the fairy tale book that’s open to an image of two children escaping to heaven on a golden rope. Just like in the book, a rope descends from the sky, and the girl spots it dangling just outside the window. She walks over.
A short time later, the beaten boy comes into the room to find his sister gone, and he sees the golden rope outside the window. It disappears before his eyes, and as the boy looks out the window calling for his sister, the fairy tale book lights up.
In a library with crammed wall-to-floor with books, a woman (demon) reads that same book. The book gleams with golden light as she puts it back on the shelf, and she smiles to herself at the sound of a girl’s laughter gurgling from it.
Patriarch meets with Mawang to tell him of a rash of disappearances of children’s souls. Mawang asks if he’s insinuating that the culprit is Iron Fan, and Patriarch points out that she was a demon who ate children’s souls.
Mawang argues that she was already punished by heaven for that, and Patriarch tells him that he knows this culprit isn’t Iron Fan—but he is concerned that this will be a reminder of “that incident” for Mawang. Mawang tells him tersely that if he’s so concerned, Patriarch should reward him handsomely in points when he catches this demon.
Mawang leaves abruptly, and Patriarch notes that the mere mention of Iron Fan turned his mood immediately. He requests more tea from Secretary Ma, only to be told, “There is none. I don’t want to give you any. Please go.”
Presidential candidate Kang Dae-sung meets with his two hit men regarding their failure to complete the job. He has pictures of Buja alive and well, and notes that she’s lost her memory and is a trainee at Lucifer. The hit men apologize for not telling him earlier that they lost the corpse, but Kang tells them pleasantly that it was just an error and that they’ll have no need to see each other again.
The hit men leave feeling relieved that Kang didn’t react worse, but the leader suggests that they lie low for the moment, feeling uneasy.
His instinct is accurate, because after they leave, Kang tells his secretary to make certain that he’ll never see the men again. *meaningful tone*
Kang thinks back to hitting Buja while driving drunk; he’d thought she died on the spot, but figures maybe he was wrong. He decides he’ll have to see her again.
Oh-gong complains to find Buja relaxing in his (empty) bathtub, and when she refuses to leave, he threatens to turn on the hot water and cook her like soup. She jumps up and says that his meanness is why Sun-mi doesn’t like him—and she knows this because she was woken up by Sun-mi’s blood, giving them a connection. Oh-gong asks if that means she knows how Sun-mi feels, and Buja says she thinks so.
So Oh-gong has her stare at him and tell him what she thinks. She comments that he’s good-looking, but he waves that aside, saying, “I know. But I don’t want to know what you think, what does Sam-jang think?”
Buja resumes staring, and after a few moments, Oh-gong guesses she has no idea. He sits her back down in the tub and makes like he’s going to turn on the hot water, but Buja stops him short by saying that Sun-mi does like him—she can just tell. Oh-gong sighs that she’s just saying that to get out of punishment, but leaves her to relax in his tub.
Outside, Oh-gong tells Mawang to use the other shower since the zombie’s sleeping in the tub, and Mawang complains about the inconvenience. They bicker back and forth about whose fault it was for taking her in, which ends with Mawang saying that he’s not the type to abandon someone just because they’re annoying, unlike Oh-gong.
Oh-gong fires back, “Is that so? Then why did someone with such a strong sense of responsibility let that happen to Princess Iron Fan?” Mawang freezes at that, his eyes filling with hurt, and Oh-gong seems to regret his outburst.
Mawang retreats to his bar, and as Oh-gong retreats to his lair to sit among his bottles of liquor, he sighs that he shouldn’t have mentioned Iron Fan.
Oh-gong returns to Mawang’s bar and gives him a bottle of liquor, pouring him a glass and trying to lighten the mood. Mawang tells him somberly that if he’s sorry, Oh-gong can help him amass points so he can gain immortal status faster.
He adds that Iron Fan wasn’t demonic, but an immortal herself: “I’m the one who made her a monster demon. In meeting me, her fate changed.” When Oh-gong notes how unlucky that was for her, Mawang points out that there’s another woman like that—because it was in meeting Oh-gong that Sun-mi’s fate changed. She wanted to live a normal human life, but he made that impossible: “So you have no cause to sneer at me. You’re a really bad jerk too. Reflect on that.”
In thanks for watching his kids, Han-joo gives Sun-mi a voucher for a restaurant. She says she’s envious of his normal family outings like eating together, and although he thinks it’s nothing special, she says that kind of thing is difficult for her. He tells her to invite someone to eat together and offers to make the call.
But as he’s scrolling through his phone for Jonathan’s number, Oh-gong appears. Han-joo stammers defensively that there’s no need to glare so hard at him just because he was going to call Jonathan, but Oh-gong is more interested in finding out why Sun-mi would feel envious of his ordinary life.
Han-joo asks if Oh-gong is also envious of his ordinariness, and when Oh-gong emphatically says no, he points out that Oh-gong should let go of Sun-mi because he’ll never be able to make her happy.
At lunch, Sun-mi anticipates that their ddukbokki will be spicy, then comments how nice it is to sit here with him talking of things that aren’t demon-related. He encourages her to talk more, and instructs her to eat the whole plate so he can get the less spicy version. Confused, she asks why, so he says that he’s capable of magically swapping their dish with someone else’s, but that’s not very “ordinary” of him. So they’d better do it the normal way and just eat it. Ha.
After lunch is a leisurely walk (“like ordinary people do”), and then Oh-gong looks around and adopts an “even more ordinary” pose: smartphone out, head down. LOL. Sun-mi does the same, and Oh-gong takes her hand in his and tucks it into his coat pocket.
After their date, Oh-gong takes her home and asks her to pick which “ordinary relationship” finishes off the night: A friend would stay and hang out, a family member would stay to eat, and a lover would sleep over. Sun-mi stammers that he’s trying another trick, and he readily admits to it. But he adds that all this has made him wonder what they would be to each other without the bracelet’s enforced master-servant dynamic.
Once she’s no longer the monk Sam-jang, she would have no reason to call him, and he’d have no reason to stay—would she be okay with that? Face stricken, Sun-mi thinks over his words, and doesn’t stop him when he goes. They’re both left wondering how they’d feel about that, unsure of the answer.
Sun-mi goes to Summer Fairy’s bar and asks if it’s truly impossible for a human and a monster to be a fated match. She’s put out at Fairy’s quick answer that it’s never happened before, and counters that she heard of it happening once. Sun-mi says vaguely that she heard that the Samshin Grandma connected a couple like that, and that a love bell was involved.
Summer Fairy wonders if Samshin Grandma made a mistake, but concedes that even if it was in error, a fated connection that has been made can’t be revoked. That eases Sun-mi’s mind and puts a smile on her face, though I notice Fairy looks concerned at her response.
In a dark playground, a little boy huddles to himself, whimpering in hunger. Suddenly a voice narrates, “The hungry child was surprised to discover crackers appearing before his eyes.” A package of crackers materializes in front of him, then another, and the boy follows the trail of glowing crackers.
In the library, our child-stealing demon reads Hansel and Gretel. A short while later, police officers cordon off the playground while curious bystanders murmur of a death. The book demon returns Hansel and Gretel to her bookcase, saying, “You’ll be happy here.”
But her smile fades when she sees a book open on her desk—it’s the book about the golden rope, and she realizes that the child has escaped, perhaps driven to reunite with her brother.
That brother cries at home, clutching the funeral photograph of his little sister. She appears as a ghost by his side, sitting sadly but not able to communicate.
The next day, Mawang tells Patriarch that he will find the child-stealing demon, but requests to know where Iron Fan is in this lifetime, even if he isn’t able to intervene in her life. Maddeningly, Patriarch merely tells him to become an immortal so he can know the doings of humans. Ha, then Secretary Ma takes back the plate of macarons he’s eating, and Mawang slides his coffee cup away. Patriarch dismissed.
Frosty has graduated from ice cream stand to shop, and scoops a cone for his very first guest—the girl ghost who escaped from the book. But the girl just vanishes, and Frosty thinks of the child-stealing demon on the loose.
He decides to tell Oh-gong about it, and leads him to a bridge where wandering ghosts are known to gather. Among the spirits lurking underneath it is the little girl, huddled to herself. Frosty tries to get her to talk, but she remains silent.
Then Oh-gong asks if she likes dinosaurs and wants to see a brontosaurus, and the girl nods. Ha, that’s what works?
Sun-mi watches over Han-joo’s kids again and hears that their school friend supposedly rode a golden rope into the sky, according to her brother. Sun-mi gets a bad feeling about it, and hears about the case when she’s called to meet Mawang. But he says Oh-gong is already on it and has called her on a different task, eager to gain more points.
Sun-mi hesitantly asks about removing the bracelet now, suggesting that she and Oh-gong may have a different fate than the master-servant one forced by the bracelet. Mawang firmly disagrees, reminding her of the premonition jar. She asks how he’s so certain that their fortune is a bad one, and he replies, “Because the one who changed your fate was Sohn Oh-gong.”
It’s now that he reveals that she was given Sam-jang’s fate as punishment for releasing Oh-gong. She starts to protest, but then recalls how Oh-gong told her as a child that she would be punished somehow for helping him. Mawang tells her to confirm this with Oh-gong directly.
She calls Oh-gong’s name, bringing him to her side, and asks if it’s true. Tears fill her eyes as he confirms it, and she says accusingly that if he never came into her life, she wouldn’t have become Sam-jang. “I should never have met you,” Sun-mi says.
PK gives Buja another energy ball to eat (stolen from Mawang, hee), noting that her eyes seem to be deteriorating more. She remarks on how nice he is to her, and he reminds her that he named her, and also keeps feeding her. She asks if that makes her his underling, and PK thinks it over, deciding he’d rather make her his dongsaeng.
Buja waits in the broadcast station cafe while PK is at a shoot, and is approached by Kang Dae-sung, who greets her warmly. She hasn’t recalled that he was her killer and agrees to let him wait with her, not noticing how intently he watches her.
Sun-mi returns to her empty office that night, crushed by the latest revelation. She cries, feeling pathetic.
The little boy who lost his sister huddles to himself in a dark room, when suddenly a box nearby starts to glow. He picks it up and finds it filled with matches—and in her library, the soul-collecting demon opens up The Little Match Girl and begins to read.
The boy strikes a match, and just like in the book, a table of sweets appears before him. He strikes another match—and this time, his little sister appears. He cries to go with her and tosses aside that match to reach for a third, only to have it set fire to a piece of paper.
The boy just sits there watching it burn, until suddenly a foot stomps on the flames, putting out the budding fire. It’s Sun-mi, and as the boy reaches for another match, she gathers him into a hug and tells him he can’t leave.
“I’ll have to read a different fairy tale,” the book demon says behind her, materializing in the dark. Sun-mi hands her phone to the boy, telling him to call Han-joo for help and sending him away. Then she faces the demon and demands to know who she is and why she’s stealing children’s souls.
The demon calls herself a bookseller who reads happy books to children and lets unhappy kids live in happy fairy tales.
Led by the little girl ghost, Oh-gong and Frosty come to a wall of books in the demon’s library. Frosty suggests calling Sun-mi to help, but Oh-gong is reluctant to, knowing she’s still smarting over being Sam-jang in the first place.
The demon corrects Sun-mi, saying that she didn’t steal the children—they called her, praying for her to take them away. “You know well enough, Sun-mi,” she says. “You called for me too. You were such an unhappy child, I could see it right away.”
Startled at the memory, Sun-mi turns to see her childhood self huddled next to her. The demon offers to take the unhappy child away—removing Sun-mi’s special abilities in the process—saying that it would take away her pain.
Sun-mi recalls the bullying and loneliness she faced as a child, tempted by that offer. She asks if the demon really could do that, and the demon replies that she has selected a book just for her. She opens the book, and Child Sun-mi walks over toward the glowing light…
Adult Sun-mi’s eyes fall closed, and she starts to topple over.
Across town, Buja keels over as well, falling unconscious against Kang Dae-sung.
Mawang senses a disturbance that puts him on alert. He can no longer sense the single drop of Sun-mi’s blood in his body: “Sam-jang has disappeared.”
As Frosty flips through books looking for signs of children, Oh-gong hears his name being called from his bracelet, but it isn’t Sun-mi. “Something is seriously wrong,” he says, looking troubled.
The bookseller demon puts her latest book back on the shelf, which gleams with (presumably) Sun-mi’s soul.
Oh-gong wanders the aisles of the library until he comes upon the demon at her desk. “Where’s Sam-jang?” he demands.
Mawang and Secretary Ma come upon Sun-mi, collapsed where she fell. “It’s Sam-jang,” Secretary Ma says. But Mawang replies, “This woman is no longer Sam-jang.”
The demon says that she was the one who called Oh-gong: “I am the new master of the bracelet.”
Ooh, plot twist! I’ve been waiting for something like this, because I was getting a tiny bit impatient with the Sad Sun-mi storyline of falling in love with someone whose love isn’t real. It’s a great arc, to be sure, but I’ve been ready for it to move somewhere, and now I’m tickled that it has moved so much so quickly.
So, Sun-mi is no longer Sam-jang, and the bracelet has a new master? I love all the opportunities this opens up for us, and have a ton of questions impatiently awaiting answers: If Sun-mi’s “soul” has been captured in the book, what happens when her soul is returned—does the Sam-jang fate come back too? Or is that no longer how it works, because the book demon is the new “owner” of that bracelet? Is the demon now the monk? (Is that even possible?)
And, of course, the big one: If Sun-mi is just a normal human now, will Monkey still love her? I imagine that the bracelet will force him to feel love for the book demon, but will that be different from what he felt for Sun-mi? So many ways for this story to go, and I’m really happy that I don’t know which way it’ll go.
I just hope this twist isn’t resolved too quickly, because I think it’s an opportunity to explore some really interesting dynamics, and I’m all for that. For instance, we’re seeing Oh-gong start to show flashes of compassion and sympathy that have nothing to do with his bracelet compelling him—he felt genuinely bad for lashing out at Mawang about something he knew would hurt him, and then also tried to make up for it. Somewhat clunkily, sure, but Monkey gave up a prized bottle of liquor—that means something! And as annoyed as he acts with Buja, his complaints seem to be mostly bluster with her, and even his blustering is losing its edge. So I think we can say that even despite hundreds of years of being mostly a self-absorbed jerk, Monkey has the capacity to be a better person (er, monster-spirit-immortal). When he wants to. If he feels like it.
Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing what this means for Sun-mi. She may be trapped at the moment, but I’m sure she’ll be released soon enough, and then what? Will she get her taste of true ordinariness? Will she get to experience all the things she’s longed for, or will she find it’s not quite all she thought it would be?
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