Hell Is Other People: Episode 8
Our hero has hit his breaking point, but the time has come to make a choice. A homicidal maniac has extended his hand and it’s up to Jong-woo whether to take it, fight back, or run. Unfortunately, time is running short and his life isn’t the only one on the line.
EPISODE 8: “Voices That Choke Me”
Moon-jo finds Jong-woo bleeding and barely conscious after brutally beating a group of teens that tried to jump him. He assures Jong-woo he’ll take care of him and the scene briefly shifts back to Moon-jo greeting Ki-hyuk for the first time after Ki-kyuk moved into Eden Goshiwon.
Jong-woo wakes up strapped to the operating chair in Moon-jo’s dentist office as Moon-jo stitches him up. He asks who Moon-jo is and Moon-jo wonders who Jong-woo thinks he is — a dentist living in a goshiwon or a serial killer from a crime novel. He says he can be whatever Jong-woo wishes and once more we flashback to Moon-jo speaking with Ki-hyuk, who demands to know what Moon-jo wants.
Moon-jo blithely replies he’d overheard Ki-hyuk’s phone conversation the night before, sympathizing with his circumstances. Ki-hyuk bristles, but Moon-jo just continues that the walls are thin. Leaning forward, he tells Ki-hyuk that their eyes are similar and that he knows Ki-hyuk well. The memory blends with Moon-jo’s first conversation with Jong-woo as he tells both men, “I dissect… and I reassemble. Then I recreate.”
The lights flicker in the kitchen where Moon-jo sits with Ki-hyuk and when they come back, the rest of the Eden Goshiwon residents are standing behind Moon-jo, smiling. He tells Ki-hyuk not to worry, “Honey, I’ll make you into a new person.”
Back to the present, it seems Moon-jo just finished delivering the same spiel to Jong-woo because Jong-woo asks if Moon-jo thinks it’s fun doing this to him. Moon-jo laughs and promises to make Jong-woo special.
Jung-hwa studies CCTV footage of Eden Goshiwon as she and maknae cop Hyun-ho patrol the neighborhood. Hyun-ho asks after her father, revealing that Dad used to star on a true crime program. He’s crushed to learn that the show was almost entirely scripted and dad is nothing like the “character” he played. Hyun-ho pouts that his favorite line, “If something smells fishy, run with your own feet,” wasn’t Dad’s original words but the phrase gives Jung-hwa an idea and she makes him turn the car around.
The arrive outside Eden Goshiwon and Jung-hwa explains that the footage she’d been watching (which came from a nearby convenience store) showed Detective Cha’s car drove up to Eden Goshiwon at around 11. He’d left the goshiwon at 11:30, but his car didn’t drive away until midnight. She surveys the area and checks the drains, finding one of the syringes that Moon-jo had dropped that night before killing Ki-hyuk.
Another patrol car pulls up to Moon-jo’s dentist office after a report from neighbors about the teenagers Jong-woo had beaten. Jung-hwa returns to the station to find him sitting next to an officer, spaced out and refusing to speak while the mothers of the boys curse at him. Moon-jo arrives at the station and offers to pay the women whatever they’d like, and they immediately settle down.
Jong-woo is on the verge of tears when he and Moon-jo finally leave the station. Jung-hwa eyes Moon-jo suspiciously as she returns Jong-woo’s id and urges him to call her if he needs her. As he shuffles behind Moon-jo on their way home, Jong-woo suddenly stops. Moon-jo questions him and Jong-woo says whatever Moon-jo’s deal is, it doesn’t involve him and he doesn’t care.
He promises to move out tomorrow and pay Moon-jo back the settlement money, begging Moon-jo to leave him alone. Moon-jo reaches out and touches Jong-woo’s throat, indicating the uvula and commenting that he loves seeing it in other people’s mouths. “Don’t hide anything from me from now on,” Moon-jo says, “Okay?”
Jung-hwa calls Detective Cha’s division to say she thinks Detective Cha may have been kidnapped or killed. She starts to explain that she’d found something where he was last seen, but they tell her CCTV footage had recorded him in the mountains around midnight. They’re further unimpressed when she admits she doesn’t have any evidence the syringe was used on Detective Cha.
Arriving at Eden Goshiwon, Moon-jo sends Jong-woo in alone, saying he wants to smoke first. Jong-woo silently complies, thinking that now is the time to run. Before he can, however, Seok-yoon runs out to him and reports that he’d noticed the 4th floor reeks of blood. He trails off when he notices Jong-woo’s bloody face, but Jong-woo just mumbles that he fell and they go inside.
Jong-woo stands outside his door, keys in hand but making no moves to open it. Seok-yoon offers to get beer, but Jong-woo says he just wants to sleep. He finally opens the door and recoils to find the body of the kitten he’d fed on his desk. Seok-yoon rushes over at the sound of Jong-woo’s panic attack, but upon investigation, the “cat” is just Jong-woo’s shirt. That night, Jong-woo huddles on his bed, hands pressed against his ears as he tries to ignore the voices of his neighbors, Ji-eun, Byung-min, and Moon-jo echoing in his head.
Jung-hwa walks around the neighborhood and finds the CCTV mentioned by Detective Cha’s division. Watching the footage, however, she notices Detective Cha’s car going up the mountain, but never coming back down despite there only being one road.
Byung-min arrives at the office the next day to find the shattered remains of his keyboard. He immediately accuses Jong-woo, but Jong-woo just stares blankly at his dark computer screen until Byung-min kicks his seat. Byung-min grumbles about Jong-woo as he digs through his bag, not noticing Jong-woo calmly stand and grab a mug before breaking it on Byung-min’s head.
Then, Jong-woo grabs the keyboard and starts hitting Byung-min with it until Jae-ho and Sang-man arrive and pull him off. Afterwards, Jae-ho brings Jong-woo into his office and says that Byung-min has to stay at the hospital, but his injuries are minor. He asks what’s gotten into Jong-woo, saying he wasn’t violent in the past.
Jae-ho finally notices the cuts on Jong-woo’s face and blood on his shirt. Jong-woo lies that he fell down the stairs but Jae-ho isn’t fooled. He again asks what’s wrong and points out Jong-woo even fought with Ji-eun. Jong-woo’s eyes snap up and Jae-ho shrinks back as Jong-woo demands why he’d met with Ji-eun. “You need to get your act straight unless you want to die,” Jong-woo tells him before standing and walking out of the building.
Jong-woo wonders whether it’s the goshiwon, his coworkers, or just who he really is, realizing he doesn’t know who he is anymore. Sitting in the park, Jong-woo thinks back to his attack on Byung-min and his face breaks out into a grin as he echoes the words he’d said after his fight in the military, “I should have just killed him.”
Jung-hwa takes the afternoon off to have the syringe examined. Unfortunately, there were no fingerprints, but the lab tech did find DNA. She says it didn’t belong to Detective Cha, but the fluid in the needle was a local anesthetic commonly used in dental offices. The woman asks why Jung-hwa is risking being disciplined and Jung-hwa explains about the dead cats and missing people.
She says that she’d initially suspected Deuk-jeong, but the more she’d dug into it the more the entire goshiwon seemed suspicious. The lab tech suggests Jung-hwa hand the case over to a detective, but Jung-hwa says there’s no time.
Reporter Jo visits Byung-min in the hospital and asks about the incident. Byung-min says Jong-woo is a psycho and that he would’ve died if not for Jae-ho. As he’s leaving, Reporter Jo calls Jae-ho to meet and says he’ll wait at the office. Meanwhile, Jae-ho heads over to Eden Goshiwon to see Jong-woo. Jong-woo asks how he’d found him and glares when Jae-ho says Ji-eun told him.
Jae-ho suggests they go for drinks to clear up their misunderstandings and Jong-woo accuses him of meeting Ji-eun behind his back. Jae-ho lies that Ji-eun hadn’t wanted to tell Jong-woo and calls Jong-woo selfish for not understanding her feelings. He drags Jong-woo to a bar and tries to give him a new shirt, but Jong-woo ignores him.
Jae-ho asks about the incident, but gets no response so he launches into a speech about how Jong-woo needs to watch his attitude. Ji-eun arrives and Jae-ho says he’d called her because Jong-woo wouldn’t believe him. She sits down and Jae-ho declares Jong-woo is small-minded, which sets Jong-woo off again.
He asks if Jae-ho has a death wish and Jae-ho chides him for letting his temper get the better of him when everyone struggles. Jong-woo argues that Jae-ho can’t talk since he grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth. Jae-ho takes it as an inferiority complex and scoffs that Jong-woo is worried he’ll steal Ji-eun because he’s better.
Ji-eun finally tells him to be quiet, but Jong-woo grabs a bottle and she has to hold him back to stop him from bashing it in Jae-ho’s head. He freezes when Moon-jo enters the bar and shrinks back in fear as Moon-jo joins them. Jong-woo finally lets Ji-eun take the bottle as Jae-ho bickers with Moon-jo. He clarifies that he’s Jong-woo’s boss and Moon-jo muses that’s why he’s so conceited.
Turning back to Jong-woo, Moon-jo says that he understands that living in a tiny room makes one feel alone. “But if the people closest to you don’t know how you feel,” Moon-jo continues, “you know very well what that’s like, Jong-woo.” Jae-ho tries to interrupt and Moon-jo calls him out for faking concern when he’s only after Jong-woo’s cheap labor and Ji-eun.
Moon-jo laughs at Jae-ho’s attempt to look brave because Ji-eun is present and Jong-woo urges him to come outside. On the sidewalk, Jong-woo decides not to ask why Moon-jo keeps following him, instead begging Moon-jo to keep quiet. With a smile, Moon-jo says he can’t because once he bites, he never lets go.
Jae-ho steps outside as well and Moon-jo admits he’d seen the way Jong-woo had wanted to kill Jae-ho the night Ji-eun got out of his car. He whispers to Jong-woo to act on his desires because that’s his true self and then walks away. Jae-ho walks over and tells Jong-woo to go back to his family home, offering him money to sleep at a motel tonight and promising to wire his paycheck and extra.
Jong-woo just tells Jae-ho to watch his back, but Jae-ho takes it as a threat. He advances on Jong-woo, backing off only when Ji-eun runs over. As Jae-ho drives off, Jong-woo shakily tells Ji-eun he really meant it and that Jae-ho needs to be wary of Moon-jo.
In a taxi, Jong-woo tells Ji-eun he’s going back home tomorrow, and has no intention of returning to the goshiwon for his things. She guesses that Moon-jo upset him, noting that Jong-woo’s entire demeanor changed when he’d arrived. Jong-woo just starts sobbing as he tells her, “He’s a really frightening man.”
Reporter Jo lets himself into the office and sits at Jae-ho’s desk. Meanwhile, Jong-woo sets up in a motel, realizing that the fear follows everywhere he goes. At the same time, Jae-ho gets into an elevator and spies Moon-jo standing outside as the elevator doors close. Hearing an elevator ding, Jong-woo peers anxiously into the hallway, jumping when he hears a sound, but it’s only Ji-eun turning on the TV in their room.
Jae-ho lets himself into his office, not noticing the gloved hand that catches the door just before it closes behind him. He turns when he hears footsteps and Moon-jo jabs a syringe in his neck as Reporter Jo dives under the desk. Moon-jo tells Jae-ho he usually isn’t so impulsive but Jong-woo is special to him. He then lifts a statue off a nearby table and bludgeons Jae-ho with it repeatedly.
When he’s finished, he notices Jae-ho has received a text from Ji-eun and replies, asking where she and Jong-woo are. Ji-eun is led to believe Jae-ho wants to apologize in person, but thankfully she turns him down because Jong-woo is sleeping. Moon-jo pockets the phone and calls Deuk-jeong to clean up the mess.
Reporter Jo crawls out from under the desk and follows Moon-jo to Eden Goshiwon. He calls someone, saying he’s got a scoop and he’ll be in touch. When he turns back, Deuk-jeong is pointing his toy gun in Reporter Jo’s face. He asks if Reporter Jo has an interesting story and although Reporter Jo denies it, Deuk-jeong stops him and asks if he’s sure.
Afterwards, Deuk-jeong meets Moon-jo on the staircase. Moon-jo says he’d ordered Deuk-jeong to clean up and Deuk-jeong asks if that’s his job. Moon-jo sighs that Deuk-jeong isn’t enjoying it, he’s just scared. He tells Deuk-jeong to do as he says if he wants to stay and Deuk-jeong laughs that he was only kidding.
Seok-yoon finds Jong-woo’s book (the one Moon-jo had taken) on the kitchen table. Moon-jo walks in and says Jong-woo lent him the book and offers Seok-yoon a beer. He fetches some of Bok-soon’s mystery meat from the fridge and offers it while they drink. Seok-yoon eats hungrily, although he notes the taste is unique.
He freezes when Moon-jo says it’s human meat, but laughs along when Moon-jo says it was just a joke. Moon-jo notes that Seok-yoon seems close with Jong-woo. Seok-yoon confirms it and catches himself just as he adds that the residents seem to bother Jong-woo. Moon-jo assures him he can speak freely, saying he’d felt the same when he moved in.
Seok-yoon observes that Moon-jo doesn’t look like someone that would live at a goshiwon, wondering if he’s perhaps an artist. Deuk-jeong and Nam-bok join them and repeat the human meat joke. Moon-jo says he does that to everyone that moves in. They offer Seok-yoon more, but he declines and leaves.
Rather than his room, he goes to the roof and tries to call Jong-woo, but there’s no answer. On the way back down, he pauses at the 4th floor and listens at the door. He recalls discussing it with Jong-woo and then sneaks inside. He explores a bit before the door at the end opens and he just manages to dart through an open door to avoid being seen by Deuk-jeong and Nam-bok as they cart something down the hall.
They leave and he starts to tiptoe out when he hears thumping behind him and turns to see Moon-jo standing there, bouncing his tennis ball. “I need you to vacate your room,” Moon-jo tells him. Behind him, Deuk-jeong and Nam-bok reappear, wondering how many bags Seok-yoon will take up. Moon-jo throws his ball at Seok-yoon and declares it’s time to work before advancing on him with a hammer.
Oooookay, when I said I wanted Jae-ho and Byung-min to get a little comeuppance, I was thinking more along the lines of Jong-woo finally telling them to piss off… not for them to end up in the hospital or dead. Even so, I can’t say I feel bad for either. Byung-min is happy to take the beating as justification for him disliking Jong-woo from the start, and I’m certainly not gonna miss Jae-ho. It was so satisfying to see the fear in his eyes when Jong-woo pushed back and for Moon-jo to put him in his place at the bar, even if he terrified Jong-woo in the process.
For all his pent up rage and homicidal fantasies, Jong-woo spent nearly the entire hour petrified by dread. It’s not unjustified, as Moon-jo is chilling and Lee Dong-wook is absolutely slaying this performance (hehe, pun intended). The juxtaposition of Jong-woo’s dismissal and derision towards the tenants in the beginning compared to his whimpering fear of them now is startling. And I don’t know about y’all, but Im Shi-wan’s pouting was very distracting when the mood is supposed to be tense and ominous!
Moon-jo’s obsession with Jong-woo is so bizarre and as we only have one week left, I’m hoping we’ll finally delve into what the crap is actually going on at Eden Goshiwon. From what we’ve seen, Moon-jo seems to be cultivating killers, but he’s looking for something specific. Something he’d thought he’d found in Ki-hyuk, only to be disappointed when he went rogue, and now thinks he’s found in Jong-woo. Seeing Ki-hyuk’s initial reaction to the goshiwon, I find it different from what I’d imagined. He seemed just as wary as Jong-woo and yet by the time Jong-woo arrived, he was striving to be Moon-jo’s mini-me.
I’m dying to know what changed. Did he try to run like Jong-woo? Is that why Moon-jo is unperturbed that Jong-woo doesn’t seem remotely willing to join the murder cult? With one week remaining, I’m hoping we’ll finally get some answers. What brought these people together and why are they so hellbent on killing people? Or perhaps more than the killing, it’s the fear they thrive on? All we know for sure, is they have no intention of stopping.
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- First script read for OCN’s Hell Is Other People
- Lee Dong-wook to join Im Shi-wan in OCN thriller, Hell Is Other People
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