Hwayugi: Episode 15
Today it’s one sort of love pitted against another sort of love, which makes for a pretty strong clash since motivations go deep and emotions run high. In fact, love is the driving force in more than one side storyline as well, giving us all sorts of conflicted characters and colliding goals, some of them pure at heart and others more twisted. ‘Cause when a monster falls in love, you can be sure there’s lots of twisted involved.
EPISODE 15 RECAP
Sun-mi hears the truth of the death bell from the manipulative priestess, who has lured her into a connected dreamspace containing her stone coffin. She convinces Sun-mi to sacrifice herself so as not to be the cause of Oh-gong’s death, and with a tear running down her face, Sun-mi lies down to eternal sleep.
A short while later, it’s the priestess who awakens in Sun-mi’s body and in her bed. Priestess smiles to see her plan was successful, and pretends to be Sun-mi when she finds Oh-gong waiting outside. He acts as though all is normal and treats her like she’s Sun-mi… but does he know?
Priestess/Sun-mi explains that she had a good dream about getting something she really wanted, then hugs Oh-gong. From his measured reaction I’m thinking he suspects this is Priestess. You know, right? Right??
Oh-gong smiles to her face, but his voice is grim as he tells her to keep dreaming her good dream.
The rest of the team discuss the situation chez Mawang: They know the priestess is now in Sun-mi’s body, but not exactly what happened to Sun-mi’s soul. PK wonders if she died, but Mawang can feel that she’s still alive, based on the droplet of her blood in his system. For the time being, however, they can’t do anything to the priestess and risk harming Sun-mi’s body.
That’s why Oh-gong told them that he’d keep up the act (aha!) with her, to prevent her from running away with the host body. The team worries that Oh-gong won’t be able to pull off the deception, and PK adds that the priestess had access to Buja’s memories when she was in her body. So she’ll also have Sun-mi’s memories.
Secretary Ma points out that the priestess was very keen on marrying Oh-gong. That means she’ll be pulling out all the stops to “go all the way” with him tonight. “You absolutely cannot cave, Sohn Oh-gong,” Mawang says.
That night, as predicted, Priestess makes the first advance, though Oh-gong quickly takes the lead. He looms over her as though to kiss her, but each time she reaches up to him, he moves her hand away. She asks if she’s still the most beautiful person in his eyes, and he replies, “So that has been bothering you.”
Oh-gong moves away and sits up, looking upset. He calls himself the bad guy for knowing of her fears that he won’t love her without the bracelet, yet wanting to hold her anyway. Priestess says it’s okay, but he says he’ll stop because he loves her, acting like it’s a wrench for him (which makes me chuckle because it’s a great defense).
But Priestess readily agrees, saying they have time, and that they’ll marry soon. Oh-gong forces himself to agree and Priestess embraces him tightly, until finally Oh-gong can’t take it and pulls her hands away.
He suggests going out and quickly leaves the room, thinking about Sun-mi’s words when he’d given her the wedding ring: that if he ever felt scared or upset, she’d come running when he said her name.
“I’m extremely scared, struggling, and in danger right now, Jin Sun-mi,” Oh-gong says aloud. “Where are you?”
In her stone coffin, as Sun-mi sleeps, the ring on her hand gleams brightly.
Oh-gong and Priestess keep up the act that she’s Sun-mi in front of the gang at Mawang’s, who start planning for the wedding. It’s almost funny how uncomfortable everyone looks when Priestess makes coupley gestures, like holding Oh-gong’s hand and showing off her wedding ring. Oh-gong’s doting façade cracks a few times, and when the ladies step away, Mawang warns that he’s not doing a great job hiding his feelings. Heh, you know it’s bad when even the blind man can see it.
PK is amazed at how well the Priestess has managed this transformation, and Mawang supposes that she was able to take over Sun-mi’s energy so completely that she felt confident that she’d fool everyone.
But Oh-gong firmly disagrees. “No, I don’t feel she’s Sam-jang at all.”
Secretary Ma leads Priestess to the closet to see her bridal gown, then steps aside to let her try it on. But rather than the dress, Priestess reaches instead for the box containing the incense burner—or rather, its fake—and is pleased that it’s still there.
Secretary Ma reports to PK that the priestess is looking at the burner, glad that they’d made up a second fake (after Frosty’s initial fake was discovered). PK guesses that the real burner is in Frosty’s hands, and shakes his head at his betrayal.
Frosty is with the real burner and Buja’s sleeping body, and notes that the red fumes have now turned blue. That’s the sign that Priestess has fully entered Sun-mi’s body, and she’d given Frosty the instruction to shatter the burner at this point, ensuring that Sun-mi would be locked in her dream.
Frosty reaches out a hand and starts to freeze the burner…
Oh-gong knows that Sun-mi has not yet been sealed away in her prison, thanks to Mawang’s connection to her, but also knows they’ve got to find that burner quickly. They’ve got to locate Frosty asap.
Priestess’s actual coffin is in the hands of prof/politician/murderer Kang Dae-sung, who has yet to figure out what Priestess (in Buja’s body) meant by visiting his classroom or issuing the warning that she’d come find him.
He has an inkling that it has to do with the thing that came out of the coffin, but far from being afraid, he actually seems excited and tells his assistant that he’s looking forward to it: “It feels like something incredible is going to appear in front of me.” Oh, be careful what you wish for…
While Priestess looks at her bridal gown, Oh-gong vows to rip Priestess to shreds as soon as Sun-mi returns to her body, and Mawang chuckles at his bloodthirstiness.
Priestess rejoins them, and CEO Sa offers to give her a ride home, having arranged this with Oh-gong beforehand. But Priestess declines the offer, stating her intention of staying here to “help.” Oh-gong fumes silently, but can’t argue.
Mawang guesses that Priestess seems intent on seducing Oh-gong tonight, and asks what he means to do about it. Oh-gong declares that he’ll sleep with Mawang instead, and instructs Mawang to say he needs to sleep holding Oh-gong tight because of his cold affliction.
Mawang balks, but Oh-gong pleads, “You can’t even see! Just pretend I’m Iron Fan.” LOL.
CEO Sa goes over wedding plans with Priestess, though it’s more to stall for time than actually plan anything, which annoys her. Finally she tells him to handle everything and leaves, and CEO Sa sadly apologizes to his hyungnim for not being able to do more.
When Priestess arrives at Oh-gong’s bedroom, the boys enact their plan to keep him away from her: Oh-gong wears sheet masks and pretends to have fallen asleep during his beauty routine, and Mawang insists that Sun-mi help him back to his room.
Once there, Mawang invites Priestess to sit and talk wedding plans. She asks for a wedding gift to rival his—the magical fan. He says it’s currently with Patriarch and will be returned once he achieves immortality, and she asks pointedly, “It’s yours, but you have just waited obediently for it to be returned to you?”
That stings, but he grits out that he’d waited in order to reduce the suffering of his beloved. Priestess prods more, saying that the heavens have tamed him quite easily—he’s become obedient and weak.
Mawang forces a laugh, but his temper flares and he asks who she is to dare talk like this to him. At that, Oh-gong intervenes and tells Priestess to leave.
Mawang tells Oh-gong that she will have caught on and urges him to catch her before she runs away.
Oh-gong catches up to her on the staircase, and when Priestess turns and starts walking back to him, he instinctively reacts, fliiiiiinging her through the air away from him.
A split-second later he realizes what he’s done and zooms ahead to catch Priestess before she slams into the ground.
So now the jig is up. Priestess knows he’s been acting, and Oh-gong says he should have kept it up longer, if only he didn’t hate her so much. He demands to know where Sun-mi is, and Priestess declares that she’s now Sam-jang. Sun-mi is buried in her coffin: “That woman has died.”
Oh-gong grabs Priestess by the throat and shoves her against a wall. As he grapples with his fury, Mawang shouts out that Sun-mi is still alive, feeling it in his own body.
With great effort, Oh-gong lets her go. Priestess grabs a wineglass nearby, breaks it, and holds the broken stem to her own face. She warns that if Oh-gong does anything like this again, she’ll feed Sun-mi to demons.
Oh-gong recognizes the danger and raises his hands in surrender, telling Priestess that he was wrong and asking her not to harm Sun-mi. Priestess says that they will marry as planned, and if he does well, she might wake up Sun-mi… maybe in 500 years. Will he still love her then?
He doesn’t flinch away from her touch this time, but he says that while he’s not sure how long it’ll go, the second it’s over, Priestess is dead. She just says she’ll have to make it a thousand years, then, and flounces off.
Mawang assures him that he did well and that they just need to find Frosty. Oh-gong asks if this is how Mawang felt for the past thousand years, and Mawang says, “Yes. There’s nothing I can do for her, feeling the torment of not knowing where or how she is—that was what my thousand years has been.”
Oh-gong says he can’t bear it for even a day, and vows to find Frosty. Mawang sighs to himself that Monkey has finally felt this agony and made heaven’s punishment successful.
Frosty, meanwhile, expresses pity for the sleeping Buja as he waits for the fumes to finish burning.
Until Frosty is found, Oh-gong intends to go along with Priestess’s wedding demands. CEO Sa shows him the wedding chamber he has prepared, which they’ll keep intact for now.
Oh-gong heads off to “harass” Priestess, since he doesn’t like seeing her so happy. She shops up a storm and airily tells the clerks to discard the clothing she arrived wearing. When they go to ring her up, however, Priestess tells them she’ll just be leaving, and works her magic to get them to agree.
But around the corner, someone snaps his fingers, breaking her enchantment on the clerks. They insist that she pay for her purchases, and when she mutters that she has no money, they take back her bags. Even more humiliatingly, they demand the new clothes she’s wearing—leaving her to fish her old clothing out of the trash.
Oh-gong is there to see her leaving in her trash-stained clothes, and he clucks at the sad sight, saying that Sun-mi had been beautiful no matter what. She snaps at him for staring, but he says he’s just looking because she’s beautiful, and for a moment Priestess looks rattled. Then he laughs that he’s lying, chiding her for believing him.
She blusters that she didn’t fall for it, but he says of course she did, since she likes him and wants to have him. “Shall I give myself to you?” he asks in a serious tone, making her heart skip another beat.
And then he laughs again that she fell for it again, saying he’s just feeling her out, since they’re going to be married. He notes that a pair of bad people can be happy together, and asks if she wants him to stop.
She tells him to continue, asking what she can do to see if he’ll like her. He suggests going to work at her office, and when she asks why she’d go there, he replies, “You’ll go, because I’m going there.” Well, that’s annoyingly accurate.
At the office, Oh-gong explains how Sun-mi went to work every day even while fighting demons, and asks if Priestess can do the same. She tells him that she has all of Sun-mi’s memories and offers to live exactly like her. To prove that she can do it, she adopts Sun-mi’s attitude and tone and recites things Sun-mi used to say.
Oh-gong laughs at first, but then Priestess recites Sun-mi’s confession of liking him, which unnerves him. He says he might find his heart fooled by such a convincing act, and she says she’ll be able to convince him into living a happy life with her.
Oh-gong tasks her with continuing to impersonate Sun-mi, offering to let her fool him. With that, he disappears.
Han-joo arrives for work and recoils at Sun-mi’s stained clothing, and warns that they’re in for a busy day. Priestess says she can handle it, and settles in to pore over paperwork. But she annoys Han-joo by making mistakes, and is annoyed in turn by his annoyance at her sudden incompetence.
Priestess is exhausted by the end of the day, and that’s before she gets unexpected visitors—her relatives. Ha, Oh-gong called her uncle and cousin (and his screaming baby), who use her wedding as a reason to demand more money. Oh-gong also informs Jonathan of their wedding, prompting another surprise visitor. To cap off an irritating day, Han-joo shows up at Sun-mi’s apartment with his two kids in tow—his heater went out and Oh-gong helpfully offered Sun-mi’s place for the night.
At Mawang’s, the team strategizes, having been unable to locate Frosty. Mawang theorizes that Summer Fairy wasn’t involved in the deception, and that Frosty acted alone. And if so, they may be able to call Fairy to help. Likely Frosty is tired by now, having stayed awake to remain in control.
Still watching over the burner, Frosty struggles to stay awake. Summer Fairy urges him to stop, but he tells her to stay asleep.
Oh-gong and PK go to Summer Fairy’s bar, and Oh-gong slams a wine bottle through the air to call Fairy forth. The air ripples with each strike, and both Frosty and Fairy feel the summons. She insists on answering the call while he insists that she ignore it, until a light floods Frosty’s body and Fairy finally exits.
She appears in her own form in front of her brother, and he urges her back inside his body, because she can’t survive outside it for long. She tearfully refuses, then vanishes… and reappears in her bar before Oh-gong and PK.
PK reports back to Mawang, who supposes that now that Frosty has been located, Oh-gong will kill him.
Oh-gong arrives just as Frosty is about to go off in search of Priestess to return his sister’s soul to his body. Oh-gong demands the incense burner, which Frosty refuses to hand over, and the air blurs with Oh-gong’s fury.
Frosty states that Sun-mi can kill Oh-gong, and therefore getting rid of her means he has not betrayed Oh-gong. Oh-gong says Sun-mi is his bride and starts to advance, but Frosty warns him away, stating that he will protect his sister’s soul.
The room starts to freeze as Frosty summons his powers. Oh-gong slams him back with a blow to the midsection, and says, “I did not want to kill you.”
Frosty marshals his powers for another round, but suddenly his sister appears to beg him to stop. As the frost recedes, he warns her not to use her powers and endanger her soul.
But she embraces him, ignoring his pleas to return to his body, and says she should have disappeared long ago. “Thanks to you, I have lived happily till now. Now I will go,” she says.
As Summer Fairy starts to shine with light, she asks Oh-gong for his forgiveness, and that her death be the price of his punishment. She smiles at her brother as she disappears into a ball of light, which floats up toward the sky. Frosty falls to his knees in grief.
When Mawang returns to his office, his eyesight has returned, which he calls Fairy’s last gift.
Frosty now explains to Oh-gong how he came to harbor his sister’s soul with Priestess’s help, and how the death of his sister means his contract with the Priestess is now at an end. The burner has not finished burning, meaning that Sun-mi is still alive. Frosty urges Oh-gong to kill him and save Sun-mi.
“Summer Fairy paid the price of betrayal,” Oh-gong replies. “Stop crying now. It’s snowing and making it cold. I don’t like the cold.”
At Sun-mi’s apartment, Priestess tamps down her annoyance while Han-joo and his kids sit nearby. He promises to leave as soon as the heat is fixed in his place, while she says through gritted teeth that she can do this.
Han-joo watches a video interview of Kang Dae-sung, which catches Priestess’s attention. All she says is that Dae-sung isn’t as wonderful a person as everyone says he is. You’re not kidding.
Kang Dae-sung hears of the lore behind the priestess’s incense burner, which describes her as someone who would make a man a king. He recognizes the dragon design from that stone coffin, and deduces that the coffin could belong to the priestess.
CEO Sa drops by to see Priestess, explaining that Oh-gong sent him. Han-joo wonders if this is Oh-gong’s father, then belatedly recognizes him as that conglomerate CEO—and jumps to the conclusion that Oh-gong is a chaebol’s son. HA. Although I suppose immortal monkey king is hardly more believable.
CEO Sa delivers a package and the message that Oh-gong has called for Priestess to be brought to his home. Priestess smiles to see that he’s sent the outfit she’d tried to wear out of that department store before he’d ruined her shopping spree.
She wears those clothes to meet Oh-gong at his home, and their conversation whips back and forth in snappish interplay: She expresses pleasure at his romantic gestures, then irritation when he says it wasn’t meant for her. But when she tells him to get rid of wedding preparations meant for someone else, he says that Priestess could still make use of them, if they are to marry.
She refuses his offer of wine, recalling his trick with Mawang, and tells him not to light scented candles—she won’t fall for anything.
“But I didn’t call you here so we could do nothing,” Oh-gong says. Rawr?
Oh-gong asks why she’s trying so hard to turn into Sun-mi. “I’m going to call the dragon in this world too,” she says. “And I will make a king. If you stay by my side and protect me, I can do everything.”
Frosty explains to Mawang how the priestess’s incense burner works: It connects the priestess and Sun-mi by their dreams, which is where Sun-mi sleeps currently. If the priestess is brought back into the dream, they can extract Sun-mi. First they must get the priestess to fall asleep, but it’ll be tricky because she’s wary of doing that around Oh-gong.
Priestess promises to become exactly like the Sun-mi that Oh-gong fell in love with, if he only stays with her. He asks what she’ll do for him in turn, and she offers, “I will cut the fate of death’s bell.” Ooh, plot twist!
But now Oh-gong realizes why Sun-mi never called him, and Priestess informs him that she corrected Sun-mi’s misconception about their fates.
“If that woman returns, you could die,” Priestess says. “Will you still wait for her?”
“No,” he says. “I won’t wait.” Oh-gong removes the wedding band from Priestess’s finger, and then whirls her to the bed. Landing on top of her, he kisses her intently for a long, heated moment.
When he moves back, Priestess looks smug… until she tries to get up and finds that she can’t. He informs her that there’s more than one way to sneak drugs into a person, wiping his lips. Sneaky monkey!
He explains putting a dream-inducing drug into his water. “Sweet dreams,” he tells her. “And also, you won’t be waking up in that body again.”
Priestess’s struggles grow weak, and her eyes fall closed.
Oh-gong joins Mawang and Frosty to watch over the burner, which now emits both blue and red fumes—Sun-mi and Priestess are both dreaming now. Oh-gong wants to join them in that dreamspace, but Mawang points out that there’s nothing connecting him to them.
Oh-gong contradicts him, holding out Sun-mi’s ring, which Dream Sun-mi also wears in her coffin. Oh-gong puts the ring into the burner.
The ring glows on Sun-mi’s finger, and Oh-gong’s voice sounds in her ear: “Jin Sun-mi, where are you?” Slowly, her eyes open.
Outside the coffin, Priestess (back in Buja’s body) looks around and realizes she’s returned to her dreamspace prison.
As Frosty begins to freeze the burner, the air in the dreamspace begins to ripple. Priestess realizes that the burner has stopped burning. Is she trapped here?
Then Priestess slides open the coffin lid, and realizes with horror that Sun-mi is gone. “It’s disconnected,” she realizes.
Suddenly, Mawang is there in the dreamspace. “I have come to your dream,” Mawang tells her. “Sohn Oh-gong will have gone to Sam-jang’s.”
Sun-mi is in that same room, yet alone. Aha, so their dream connection severed, but both ladies are still in their dreams—just separately now.
Oh-gong calls out her name, and appears in her room.
Priestess looks scared as Mawang tells her that she’ll have to return to her coffin. But she blurts that he’s being deceived about something, and asks, “Did Iron Fan’s child truly die?”
Sun-mi is stunned to see Oh-gong here and orders him to leave. When she says his name, he clutches his heart in pain and his bracelet flashes black.
“You will be hurt because of me, and die,” she says. Oh-gong continues toward her anyway, even as she tells them of their deathly fate and refuses to leave this dream.
“Fine,” he tells her. “Then try killing me here.” She cries out his name, and sends a fresh wave of pain through him. She begs him not to come closer, saying she doesn’t want to hurt him.
“When I’m afraid,” he says, “or in pain or in danger and call your name, you said you’d come to protect me.”
Sun-mi sees the ring on her finger and remembers making that promise. Oh-gong holds out his hand and calls her name, three times.
Hesitantly, Sun-mi makes her way toward him and takes his hand. He yanks her toward him in a tight embrace, holding her in relief.
In the real world, Sun-mi wakes up with Oh-gong next to her. He’s happy but also exhausted, and tells her, “I only just managed to find my bride, but I’m so sleepy.” His eyes fall closed, and as he sleeps, Sun-mi reaches up to touch his face.
“I’m sorry,” she tells him.
Mawang brings the priestess’s incense burner to Patriarch, who is pleased at Mawang’s work. But there’s an undertone of suspicion in Mawang’s voice today, and he says the priestess got away from him, since his powers are so weak now. I guess the priestess’s words struck a chord.
PK waits next to Buja’s sleeping body, saddened at the thought that she won’t ever awaken. Dragon Prince informs him that Mawang will be burning her body soon—just as Buja opens her eyes.
PK rushes to her side, and Buja asks him, “Please save me.”
Moments later, PK rushes out with Dragon Prince, hurrying past Secretary Ma. She finds it odd that PK would leave before seeing Buja off, then is hit with a suspicion and hurries inside to see Buja.
Aha, it’s Dragon Prince in Buja’s place, having swapped clothes to enable Buja to escape.
PK drives off with Buja, but before they arrive at their destination, she gets out of the car and says she’s changed her mind about seeing her mother. PK realizes belatedly that he’s been fooled again—it’s really Priestess, not Buja.
“So? Will you take me away to be burned?” she asked. PK can’t do that, so he tells her to hide well and not get caught.
“You really love and cherish her,” Priestess notes. PK just tells her to go, and drives away alone.
Priestess looks strangely sad as she tells herself she’s glad he was so easily used. Now, she’s off to see “him,” she decides.
Kang Dae-sung senses something strange in his home that night, and finds Priestess waiting for him. “You’ve kept it well,” she says. “As promised, I’ve come to get it.” Looking thrilled, he says he’s been waiting for her.
Secretary Ma apologizes to Mawang for letting the priestess get away, but he says that he was the one to let her go. He explains that she provided him with an important realization, and we return to their conversation back in the dreamspace.
Priestess had asked, “A child born to an immortal and a monster, a child that ate dozens of human children’s souls—did it really die?”
Priestess recounts Mawang’s story: His wife committed a sin when her child died, and Mawang spent a thousand years quietly working to relieve her of her punishment. She tells him to think of his situation backwards, and if that makes sense, to let her go.
The backwards realization? “In order to tame me into obedience, she committed a sin, and for that sin, she killed the child. Why had I never considered that?”
Secretary Ma urges him not to trust Priestess’s words, but Mawang declares that if he was deceived, then everyone is his enemy. Ack, I don’t like the sound of that.
Sun-mi continues watching over Oh-gong as he sleeps next to her, holding his hand.
She tells him, “The human Jin Sun-mi loves the Great Sage, Equal to Heaven, Sohn Oh-gong. Now, let’s end this love.”
And then, she reaches down for his bracelet, readying to remove it.
Okay, I half expect Oh-gong to wake up at the last second and prevent Sun-mi from doing anything with the bracelet, but at this stage of the story I’d rather he didn’t, because I’m more interested in seeing what happens when this artificial motivator is removed from the equation. Even Oh-gong himself has noted that the love feels so real that the bracelet might not change it, so I see the next challenge as overcoming Sun-mi’s doubts. Since she’s been wracked with them the entire series long, I’m eager to see her move past them so that we can get to whatever’s next for them.
And then, of course, there’s the tiny part of me that supposes that the writers may throw us a wrench by countering this expectation that True Love Conquers All, and may in fact reset the game (at least somewhat) by having the bracelet’s removal actually remove (or negatively affect) Oh-gong’s feelings. I’ve always loved his twist on the original story by making love the vehicle of pain enacted by the magical circlet, rather than merely tightening on Monkey’s head to bring him physical pain. But the love-bracelet is less clear-cut a punishment than the original circlet o’ headaches, because it’s become hard to distinguish when it’s working and when it isn’t. In any case, I’m eager to understand exactly how the bracelet affects love—or doesn’t—and am hoping that the explanation is satisfactory (and a little nervous in case it isn’t).
I did appreciate that this Priestess story arc has incorporated a lot of different forms of love, expressed by all sorts of different personalities. Most obviously is our lead couple’s, of course, with Sun-mi sacrificing her life to spare Oh-gong, and Oh-gong doing everything he can to save her right back. But it was a nice touch to motivate Frosty with his love of his sister, whom he’d saved once and was determined to save again, no matter that they were both living half-existences this way and that Summer Fairy was ready to let go and move on. Plus, this kind of inner-team conflict played out a lot more compellingly than if we’d just had a random third party or antagonistic character driving the wagon; one Priestess is enough!
And then there’s this new twist in the Mawang story, which certainly shakes things up if it proves true. We haven’t been given enough details to know the full story, but it sounds like Mawang may have been manipulated into his thousand years of good deeds, and while it was one thing for him to think he was choosing this life out of sacrificial love, tricking a powerful monster into being heaven’s bitch is the kind of thing that could turn sour really quickly. I just wonder if Iron Fan was in on it, or whether she was coerced by heaven—although in either case, I can’t see Mawang reacting well to any version of the truth. Hold on to your hats, things might be taking a rocky turn.
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