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Mystic Pop-up Bar: Episode 2

The first episode of Mystic Pop-up Bar did a great job of establishing the story and universal rules in a mostly lighthearted, funny tone, but the second episode sets out to show us that this drama is also capable of pulling our heartstrings in a big way. Our sweet “magnet’s” first task is a difficult one, helping a woman who has a lot to make up for, and in the process he’ll learn that, well, he still has a lot to learn.

  
EPISODE 2 RECAP

Kang-bae is on a date with a pretty girl, but when he leans in to kiss her, she says demurely that it’s only their third date. Strangely confident, Kang-bae says he’s tired of holding back, then gives her his sexiest wink-and-lip-bite and goes in again.

HAHA, he’s actually at the Mystic Pop-up Bar, drunk and asleep on the table. Wol-joo actually custom-made that dream to show him what his future can be without his “ability” (touching him compels people to tell him their problems), to entice him into signing a contract with her.

She wants Kang-bae to work for her for a month — he’ll make people tell Wol-joo their problems so she can settle their grudges and avoid going to hell. She’s only nine short of her 100,000 quota, but Kang-bae hesitates, uncomfortable with the idea of making people reveal their secrets against their will. Wol-joo argues that he’d be helping her help people, and in return she’ll cut off his ability so he can live a normal life.

As he reads over the contract, Kang-bae notices a line that says his spiritual powers may be enhanced while working for Wol-joo, and that the effect might be permanent. That’s the opposite of what he wants, and he tries using his ability on Wol-joo to make her be honest, but unfortunately she and Manager Gwi are immune.

Manager Gwi explains that a person’s spiritual powers are like a connection between the living world and the afterlife, and working with them might cause Kang-bae’s spiritual vision to increase as they travel that connection on the way into people’s dreams. He says that people might be compelled to tell Kang-bae their secrets just by looking at him, but when Kang-bae starts to look scared, Wol-joo promises that won’t happen.

Kang-bae is worried about what will happen if Wol-joo doesn’t help nine more people before the month is out. Manager Gwi says cheerfully that she’ll be dragged to hell and he’ll be stuck in his worsened state. Unwilling to risk it, Kang-bae refuses to sign the contract, and Wol-joo nearly kills Manager Gwi for being so honest.

At home, Kang-bae is visited by LANDLADY ANDONG (cameo by Baek Ji-won), a sweet lady who frequently brings him food and looks out for him. Her daughter is getting married soon, and Kang-bae promises he’ll be at the wedding.

The next day, Wol-joo shows up at Kang-bae’s workplace in a skintight minidress to convince him to sign the contract. He’s at lunch with his coworkers, who are very impressed with the gorgeous lady and the mountains of food she brought for them all.

Wol-joo tells them that she’s there to scout Kang-bae for a part-time job at her bar that he’s uniquely physically suited for, and HAHA, they all take that the completely wrong way. Kang-bae drags her away to speak privately, and he makes it clear that he’s not willing to gamble with making his ability worse.

But Wol-joo is determined, and when the shoppers in the store gather for a flash sale, she shoves Kang-bae right into the middle of the crowd. The woman who touch him instantly start clamoring to tell him their problems, until Kang-bae has to hide to escape them. In desperation, Kang-bae agrees to sign the contract, but first he suggests a trial period to see if he can even do what Wol-joo wants.

That evening, Landlady Andong is out shopping with her daughter, EUN-SOO (cameo by Kwak Sun-young). She complains about the cosmetics Eun-soo bought for her since she’s allergic and can’t wear them, but Eun-soo says they’re organic and that her mom should try it just for her wedding day. They see the Mystic Pop-up Bar and stop in to eat.

The special is grilled mackerel, and a very proud Eun-soo brags that her mother used to run a grilled fish restaurant. Wol-joo and Manager Gwi notice when Landlady Andong quietly coughs into a handkerchief and it comes away bloody, which she hides from Eun-soo.

Eun-soo has to leave suddenly, having forgotten about a dinner with her future in-laws. Manager Gwi says that Eun-soo is very sweet and that Landlady Andong obviously did a great job raising her, but Landlady Andong looks very downcast and mutters that she’s not a good mother at all.

Wol-joo makes faces at Kang-bae, but he misunderstands until she hisses that he needs to touch Landlady Andong so she’ll tell her story. He nervously takes the woman’s hand, and sure enough, she starts talking about her past.

She tells them how she was widowed young, so she opened her grilled fish restaurant to make a living. A young woman named SUN-HWA (also played by Kwak Sun-young) worked for her, and as Sun-hwa was an orphan and also lonely, the two bonded. Sun-hwa had admitted that she’d never dated anyone, and when Landlady Andong suggested she get married and have children, Sun-hwa confessed her greatest fear — leaving her own children to be orphaned as she was.

One evening a handsome man named DONG-GIL (cameo by Kang Shin-chul) came into the restaurant, and Landlady Andong had immediately set her cap for him. He would come to the restaurant whenever he was in town, and Landlady Andong would make him food and fawn over him.

Since he came so often, she assumed he returned her feelings, but in time she learned that not only was Dong-gil really there to see Sun-hwa, they were expecting a child. Landlady Andong had been furious, and she’d hidden her fury under layers and layers of makeup, to the point that she looked clownish. She didn’t even visit when Sun-hwa gave birth to a little girl, because she hated Sun-hwa for stealing “her” man.

One night, Dong-gil came by the restaurant to bring Landlady Andong a gift. She’d been very drunk, and in a fit of jealousy, Landlady Andong had told Dong-gil that Sun-hwa was promiscuous when he was out of town, and that the baby wasn’t even his.

As soon as she sobered up, Landlady Andong had regretted her actions and set out to tell Dong-gil the truth, but she arrived just as Dong-gil was peeling away in his truck. She’d watched as Sun-hwa ran into the street calling for him to come back, and right into the path of a car. Landlady Andong had taken in the baby, despite the crushing guilt that never faded.

She tells Wol-joo and Kang-bae that she has lung cancer, and that her dying wish is to reconcile Eun-soo with her father, but she’s been unable to find him. Wol-joo scoffs loudly, calling Landlady Andong a murderer and refusing to help her. Recalling that it was the townspeople’s malicious gossip that caused her to lose her own mother and take her life, Wol-joo tells Landlady Andong that Eun-soo’s forgiveness isn’t enough to save her from hell, her words carrying the weight of personal experience.

The effects of Kang-bae’s ability wear off and LA Landlady Andong quickly leaves. Kang-bae argues that they should help her since she’s dying, but Wol-joo counters that just because she’s dying doesn’t mean they should go easy on her. Kang-bae yells that this isn’t what he signed up for, and he storms out of the pojangmacha.

Wol-joo decides she doesn’t need Kang-bae, only to completely fail to entice a customer who just found out her boyfriend is married to drink the ssanggapju (the special drink). Kang-bae decides to take matters into his own hands, so while Wol-joo and Manager Gwi are busy flagging down a taxi for their customer, he sneaks into Mystic Pop-up Bar and pours some of Wol-joo’s ssanggapju into an empty water bottle.

He heads home, excited to help Landlady Andong on his own, only to find her collapsed outside her front door. He gets her to the hospital and Eun-soo sobs beside her mother’s bed, distraught that she didn’t tell her that she’s dying.

Kang-bae gets a call from Wol-joo, who of course noticed that some of her ssanggapju is missing. Manager Gwi warns Kang-bae not to let anyone drink it, but when Kang-bae goes back into Landlady Andong’s room, Eun-soo is fast asleep on the couch, having drunk the whole bottle thinking it was water.

He touches her without thinking, and he’s pulled into her dream. He’s plunged into a pitch-black space and falls down what seems like a flight of stairs, and he grows so scared that he starts crying for his mommy.

Meanwhile, Wol-joo rushes to the hospital and finds both Eun-soo and Kang-bae unconscious, so she lets herself into Eun-soo’s dream. She slaps Kang-bae back to his senses and tells him to just turn on the lights, lol, then snaps that if he enters the Dream World without her preparing it first, he could get trapped forever in the person’s subconscious.

Looking around, Kang-bae realizes that they’re in a movie theater, so he suggests they watch some of Eun-soo’s subconscious. Her memories completely contradict Landlady Andong’s conviction that she was a terrible mother — Eun-soo remembers being rushed to the hospital when she was sick, Landlady Andong fighting the neighbor ajummas when they criticized Eun-soo for being fatherless, and giving Eun-soo her entire life savings so she can have the wedding of her dreams.

There’s a loud beeping noise, and Wol-joo and Kang-bae return to the living world to find Landlady Andong in distress. Wol-joo starts to leave so Kang-bae begs her to grant Landlady Andong’s dying wish, but she just warns that she’ll kill him if he steals her ssanggapju again.

Desperate to help, Kang-bae says he’ll sign the contract if Wol-joo grants Landlady Andong’s wish. She gives it some thought and realizes that getting Kang-bae’s help is worth more than her pride, especially when she’s so close to success, so she heads to the bar to get the contract and the ssanggapju.

She runs into Chief Yeom outside the hospital, doing his duty as the god of death. Oh no… he’s there for Landlady Andong, whose time is finally up. Wol-joo asks Chief Yeom to wait a few days before taking Landlady Andong’s spirit to the underworld, promising that she and Manager Gwi will keep an eye on her so she doesn’t wander off before they settle her grudge.

Back at the bar, Kang-bae is the only one who can’t see Landlady Andong’s spirit. She shows Manager Gwi an old photo of Dong-gil with her and Sun-hwa, and Kang-bae is amazed when Manager Gwi seems to take a picture of nothing but the picture shows up clearly on his phone. Manager Gwi sends the photo to the Afterlife Police Agency (pfft), who locate Dong-gil in a small country village.

A neighbor tells them that Dong-gil showed up years ago, after a failed suicide attempt cost him his memory of everything but his name. The trio try to jog his memory with grilled mackerel and tell him that he met his wife at a mackerel restaurant, but Dong-gil insists that he’s never been in a relationship.

Wol-joo shoots laser-eyes at Kang-bae to use his ability (complete with laser sound effects, hee), but all they get is that Dong-gil couldn’t eat mackerel for a while after once choking on a bone. Their only hope is to have him drink the ssanggapju and search his dreams, but they left it at the bar in Seoul.

Luckily, Kang-bae has just enough ssanggapju left in his water bottle to send Dong-gil into a dream state. But even in his dreams, Dong-gil’s memory starts with his suicide attempt, so Manager Gwi says they need to go deeper into his subconscious.

They take a set of spiral stairs into a deep pit, Manager Gwi explaining to Kang-bae that this is where Dong-gil keeps the memories he’s locked up. Wol-joo warns Kang-bae to be careful because the pit is infinitely deep, and that if he trips, he’ll fall until his soul disappears. Yikes.

Eventually they cross a narrow walkway suspended over the pit to a locked door. There’s an electronic lock, but when Wol-joo tries 1111 as a code, an alarm sounds and half of the walkway crumbles into the abyss. Manager Gwi tries 0000 next, but again the alarm shrieks and the other half of the walkway disappears, leaving them huddled, terrified, on just a few inches of stone.

They have one try left or they’ll fall and disappear (awww, poor Kang-bae is so scared!). Wol-joo and Kang-bae search through his clothes, but Manager Gwi is extremely ticklish, so when Kang-bae finally finds Manager Gwi’s phone to look up Dong-gil’s birthday, but he’s ticklish — he flails and knocks it out of Kang-bae’s hands and down into the abyss.

Wol-joo is ready to toss Manager Gwi into the pit, but Kang-bae stops her. He gets the idea that Dong-gil’s passcode might be Eun-soo’s birthday, which he knows because she’s getting married on her birthday. He enters 0509 into the pinpad for May 9th, and the door miraculously opens.

Inside Dong-gil’s subconscious, the trio find his memories of Sun-hwa and Eun-soo when she was a baby. Wol-joo only has to snap to return the memories to Dong-gil’s conscious mind, completing her task. Dong-gil goes to Seoul for Landlady Andong’s funeral, where he meets Eun-soo for the first time since she was an infant.

Understandably, Eun-soo is shaken by the news that the woman she always thought was her mother, was in fact the person who cost her her biological family. She asks Dong-gil for time to process everything, promising to get in touch with him when she’s ready.

Dong-gil gives Eun-soo the photo of himself with Sun-hwa and Landlady Andong. Eun-soo notices how much makeup Landlady Andong used to wear, which confuses her since her mother always told her she was allergic to makeup. Dong-gil says that giving up makeup must have been her way to avoid facing her foolish self, like he did when he lost his memories.

It makes Eun-soo feel guilty for all the times she was embarrassed of Landlady Andong for not wearing makeup. She sobs and thanks her mother for raising her and being a good mom, but although it saddens Landlady Andong to see her daughter so sad, she’s ready to go now that her dying wish was granted. She thanks Wol-joo for her help and says she has no regrets, then Chief Yeom leads her into the light.

They emerge into a sunny field, and Landlady Andong is stunned to see Sun-hwa waiting for her. She falls to her knees in remorse, and Sun-hwa kneels in front of her with forgiveness in her eyes. Landlady Andong cries that she’s sorry, but Sun-hwa only thanks her for doing such a wonderful job raising her daughter and tells her to rest in peace now.

Back in the living world, Manager Gwi joins Kang-bae for a game of one-on-one basketball. Kang-bae kicks his ass, making Manager Gwi ask why he’s not a pro player, but Kang-bae reminds him that his ability makes contact sports impossible. Manager Gwi asks if Kang-bae will regret signing Wol-joo’s contract and losing his ability.

Kang-bae says that he’s used to failing in things like sports and relationships, which is why he hesitated to sign the contract — the price of failure (his ability getting even stronger) was too high. But Manager Gwi says that Kang-bae deserves to live a normal life, and that he did a great job helping Landlady Andong today and that they make a good team. Kang-bae is moved by the word “team,” something he’s never experienced, so he says he’s ready for the game of life.

They return to Mystic Pop-up Bar and Kang-bae signs Wol-joo’s contract. HAHA, Wol-joo growls that if he steals the ssanggapju again, she’ll give him repeated dreams of every time he’s been dumped. They have some celebratory drinks, and soon Manager Gwi is conked out and Kang-bae is pleasantly tipsy. Kang-bae notices that the sign has changed to 99,992 people helped, and he asks Wol-joo why she has to help 100,000 people, finding the number unfairly high.

Wol-joo says flatly, “It’s because I killed 100,000 people.” We see that some time after her death, Queen Yeomra called Wol-joo to an audience and informed her that because she hanged herself from the Sacred Tree, it lost its power to protect the country. The country was subsequently invaded, and 100,000 people died in the war.

She’d ordered Wol-joo to return to the living realm and settle 100,000 grudges as punishment. Wol-joo had argued that she took her life because she hates humans and refused to help them, preferring to be sent to the Hell of Extinction.

But Queen Yeomra had smirked that tainting the Sacred Tree wasn’t Wol-joo’s only sin. She had tossed a scroll at Wol-joo, and when she read what was written there, Wol-joo’s defiance turned to abject horror. Time passed as she read the scroll, and when she finished (appearing as we see her today), she had humbly agreed to accept Queen Yeomra’s punishment.

  
COMMENTS

Wow, what was written on the scroll? What’s worse than destroying the Sacred Tree’s power and causing the deaths of a hundred thousand people? What was so awful that a girl who killed herself in anger, who was still hanging onto that anger so strongly in death to defy the god of the underworld, to suddenly change her tune and agree to what she feels is an unfair punishment? I have my suspicions — only something very, very personal would have caused Wol-joo to submit. I still believe that she fell in love with the crown prince, and that the words on the scroll were about him. He was either in danger that could only be mitigated if she accepted the punishment, or he had already died a horrific death due to her actions, so that she felt she deserved the punishment.

Oof, this episode really got me right in the feels. I’m a sucker for a parent/child reconciliation story, and Landlady Andong’s hidden past was so painful. She made a horrific mistake, and she spent the rest of her life literally looking the result of that mistake in the eyes. But she’s also a great example of how being a mother isn’t necessarily bout biology, and it’s so like a mother not to realize how much she does for her own children. That’s what makes a true mother, whether she gave birth to her child or not… she takes on all the pain and hardship and makes sure that all her child recalls are the good times, and the times that her mother was there for her.

One thing in this episode really impressed me, and makes me more excited than anything else to see what else Mystic Pop-up Bar has to offer… the way Landlady Andong’s story and Wol-joo’s personal background so smoothly mirrored each other. Wol-joo lost her mother, her life, and her afterlife due to malicious gossip, and Landlady Andong is on the other side as the one who told the lies and destroyed a happy family. I really don’t blame Wol-joo for her unforgiving reaction to hearing Landlady Andong’s story and initially refusing to help her. It was completely in-character for her to be so angry about it, especially since Wol-joo has personal experience with the fact that death doesn’t absolve a person of their sins. The parallels between their backgrounds were so natural that it didn’t even occur to me until Wol-joo blew up at Landlady Andong, and my visceral reaction flipping from Whoa, why is she being so mean? to Well wait, now I sort of agree with her was a really great emotional moment. Give me more, Show, I love it!

I also appreciate how Kang-bae’s overconfidence in using Wol-joo’s drink without her guidance worked as both a learning experience for Kang-bae, and a way to teach the audience the rules of the Dream World. Too many dramas either rely too heavily on exposition and come across as stilted, or try to hard to avoid it that the audience is left confused (*~side-eyes Memorist so hard~*), but Mystic Pop-up Bar found perfectly delivered information simply by expertly weaving it into the plot. Kang-bae ran in without knowing how it all worked, and in the process of rescuing him, Wol-joo never had to resort to exposition. Her explanations of why his behavior was risky also informed the viewers of what can happen if things go wrong. This is true of the show in general — Mystic Pop-up Bar seems deceptively simple on the surface, but if you really pay attention, that simplicity is a deliberate choice. It kind of reminds me of hiding veggies in a cake to get your kids to eat healthy foods… what appears simple is actually a quite complex and richly-drawn world, smartly laid out to give the maximum of information in the most engaging way possible.

On a completely different topic, when I first heard that Hwang Jung-eum, Choi Won-young, and Yook Sung-jae were the leads in this drama, I thought that was a very unlikely trio of actors for a show like this and that their very different acting styles would clash hard. But on the contrary, I’m finding that it’s their differences that make them work so well together. Wol-joo’s disdain and utter doneness for the entire human race, Kang-bae gentle but forthright caring of others, and Manager Gwi’s aloof but solid-as-a-rock presence just fit perfectly into each other’s corners and make for a really great team.

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Really liking this show, fantasy done well. It totally helps that it is only 12 episodes because dream by dream sequence (case to case) episodic format otherwise gets boring and long.

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Oohhh this is only 12eps?? That’s lovely! I actually wondered how they would fit 10 cases in 16eps

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Yup perfect length for such a show.

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Korean dramas now are starting to reduce their episodes, some only had 10 episodes reason is because they are producing lots of kdramas now so they tend to shorten the episodes like jdorama.

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So long as the number of episodes can tell the story without much filler then it’s good.

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I'm loving your recaps and comments of this show. Thank you!

This episode made my cry... I didn't expect that this early. But I'm not complaining. Some of my favorite dramas are those which made me both laugh and cry, and this one looks promising.

I totally agree with your comments - the mirroring and us learning about the rules. This show is turning out better than I expected. And with so much heart =)) I also like that this episode is very different from the first, with them helping multiple people at the same time, and entering the dream of the person who wasn't their original target.

Poor Kang Bae, he's been missing on a lot of "simple" things. But I'm happy that he's getting a chance to do them with his  new teammates. Speaking of that, I'm really loving our trio! They have great chemistry and are effective both in funny and serious scenes. Looking forward to more of their teamwork!!

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Liking the case-of-the-week format.

If we're lucky, we won't the standard greedy chaebol & corrupt politician villains we're all so used to.

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I cannot stress how much I loved the chaos of that password guessing scene. All three of them hanging on to each other for dear life like a real family.
I am in. I am so in. Don't disappoint me, drama.

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I could watch that scene again and again and still laugh as hard as I did the first time!

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I just loved it as much as I laughed.
Such fantastic chemistry among the three of them!

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Hwang Jung-eum and Choi Won-young had good dynamics together back in KMHM, so I am not so surprised they worked well together this time.

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Omg, I didn’t recognize him! Manager Ahn seemed so much older to me for some reason. I’m glad you pointed this out!

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This improvised KMHM scene left a deep impression on me. That's why I remembered Choi Won-young in the show. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZ5n0UNKlos&t=44

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I agree with your comments LollyPip!

I like the wacky humour in this drama! Finding a cockroach in the subconscious, the high-tech entry system to the deeper subconscious, the entire sequence inside the man's mind was so funny. Even the Afterlife Police Agency!

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I was actually curious about the cockroach in a dream so I searched the net. Many articles interpreted that a cockroach in a dream is about rejuvenation of spiritual, psychological well being. And it’s well suited in the scene. The trio resurfaced the memories he had buried in his subconscious.

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Thank you for sharing this. Yes it does suit the scene.

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if they found a cockroach in my dream it is simply cause i hate them so!

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It never even occurred to me anyone would have a dream with cockroaches.
If I find a cockroach in my dream I'll blame these comments :)

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So true 🤣. My biggest "enemy" especially those flying ones. I'll be just like @lordcobol said... how come people anaylizing/ interpreting cockroach so much in details in their dream 🙈.

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Yes to everything you said, this show has details I'm loving so much.
The spiral staircase and the Afterlife Police Agency reminded me of the Spanish TV drama "El Ministerio del Tiempo / Time Ministry".

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Oh, I wished so much to watch El Ministerio del Tiempo when I read that Timeless was... so similar. Hope Netflix will have it one day.

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Fourth season is on air right now on our public television (TVE). I'm waiting it to finish to binge watch!!
Have you tried watching it on the RTVE site? It's not always available, I cannot watch shows on BBC or RAI :(

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Wait, forget about it.. no subs available, oooops

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Oh, what a pity! I think I could only understand a word here and there... RAI has the app RAI Play with a lot of contents, but without subs, too...

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Such a good episode. I certainly thought it was much better than the first one. Our trio is now a team and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do in their next adventure!

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Enjoying it more and more. And Hwang Jung-eum is rocking her outfits. That tight mini dress? Yeowza. I’m used to seeing her look fairly frumpy in most of her roles, where they’re trying to play down her good looks. I’ve seen our trio in various other projects, and I’m really liking their dynamic with each other here. I was happy with the first episode, and glad to see this one continues the trend. Here’s hoping the next 10 are as good!

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I love her hanboks and the magical binyeo!

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I need all her hanboks. The yellow one in the first scene is just a dream come true.

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I love that one too!

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I love how majority of the foundation of the world was laid out and woven into the story so well in the premiere week.

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Yes this. The world was to a very great extent shown in the first 2 episodes and we aren't confused about much even if it's a fantasy world.

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Yes. Way better than other dramas >.<

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Oh! Ik-sun! Nice to see her here.. 😄

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That's what I thought too. Ik-sun!

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I think the message on the scroll had to do with her mother, that would seem to be the only thing that would dampen her anger.

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Same that’s what I thought too. Its most likely about her mom for her to accept the punishment? Maybe because her mom now needs to be vanished or onto the hell forever because she saw the future and attempted to change the fate for her daughter, and therefore she violates the rules of being a MuDang or something?

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Oh, this makes the most sense. I hope the writer went this way.

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@lollypip Thank you for the recap. I am really enjoying this show because it mixes the right amount of humor with heart. The scene where the mystic bar trio journey through the man's subconscious was very well done. I love that the subconscious is imagined as an endless staircase.

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@lollypip strikes again! Now I'm really interested in this Show! Thanks for the recap.

Too many dramas either rely too heavily on exposition and come across as stilted, or try to hard to avoid it that the audience is left confused (*~side-eyes Memorist so hard~*), but Mystic Pop-up Bar found perfectly delivered information simply by expertly weaving it into the plot....Mystic Pop-up Bar seems deceptively simple on the surface, but if you really pay attention, that simplicity is a deliberate choice… what appears simple is actually a quite complex and richly-drawn world, smartly laid out to give the maximum of information in the most engaging way possible

THANK YOU for saying this! I will side-eye The King: Eternal Monarch because it is such a disappointment. It falls in both traps: either heavy-handed and unsatisfying exposition (i.e. the love story between the leads) or being so obscure that the threads of the underlying message or purpose of scenes is almost entirely missed (i.e. the plot).

I never saw all of Hotel Del Luna, I only saw the first 6 episodes or so. Lollypip's comparison rings true, and now I'm eager to watch both, perhaps in tandem with one another to see how each decides their own path of telling similar stories of redemption.

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I personally enjoy mystic way more than hotel del Luna if I were to compare the first two episodes (I did finish hotel del luna) - there are a lot more hearts and smart writing in this and the chemistry between the characters actually work so much more naturally than forced.

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I adored Hotel Del Luna and I am enjoying this one and I don't feel the need to compare them. As far as I can see beyond the fact that they share the same genre, the similarities between the two are superficial. They feel completely different (even with the ssanggapu being in a moon shaped vessel). I hope you are able to enjoy both.

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Contrary to what's expressed in this review, I actually thought the parallel setup between Landlady Andong's story and Wol-joo's personal background to be a bit contrived. I didn't like that the husband was so easily swayed by Landlady Andong's gossip and I really didn't like how the husband threw an angry, physicsal fit before he rashly ditched his wife.

I guess he did suffer afterwards by living a not so great life afterwards but it just felt so odd that no one really faulted the husband for not being more understanding or less aggressive? I understand the point is to focus on the landlady and to parallel Wol-joo's life but the setup had differences I disliked too much to appreciate.

On the otherhand, I really did love everything else. Our trio is such a nice ensemble with Wol-joo's fiery spark, Kang-ban's tendency to look in the good of others, and Manager Gwi's role as the calming mediator. Can't wait to see what else is in store for us with this trio~

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I didn't like that the husband was so quick to doubt his wife either. He had no proof other than the word of someone else and so I found his reaction unwarranted.

It is one of the rules of dramaland though, that if someone tells you something about your significant other or potential SO, you believe the messenger without a doubt and then immediately walk away from your "true love" without asking any questions or believing their side of the story.

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But I think that’s his wrong-doing and punishment - because he did not believe his wife and that’s why he’s in the wrong and regretted his whole life. So they aren’t really applying that rule but to break that rule - to tell you that’s wrong and he regretted it so much that they wanted to end his own life.

On the other hand, it is a parallel to the FL’s past because the queen ALSO did believe in just a few rumors and killed her family. That’s why it is a parallel cos it makes so much sense that the royal family would eliminate any chances even if they weren’t facts - they don’t care.

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I feel like the parallel could've been done in much better ways though.

Like maybe there could've been a student at school be bullied because of rumors, or maybe a new person at work is picked on because he's rumored to have gotten in through connections and is actually inept (currently rewatching Misaeng and it's totally not influencing my thoughts, psht).

We're not given much information about Wol-joo's past yet but I feel like the lesson to be drawn from hers is the dangers of mob mentality and political desire to keep up a face than it is about causing misunderstandings that will spiral into something more serious, which is what I felt was more what Landlady Andong's is about.

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Yeah, unlike everyone else I hated this episode.
I mean conceptually it's good but I hate that this women is to blame for spreading a few rumours but nobody faults the man who abandoned his family in ten seconds over a few rumours and never came back - even after she died - to make sure the baby was okay. What an asshole, seriously. What he did was way way worse. Way worse. Just like what the Queen did was way worse than the few villagers gossiping about her.

Like you I also enjoyed everything else, including the dynamic of the trio. But everything about the main story annoyed me.

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Kind of wished they didn’t linger so long on the shot of the scroll because people who read traditional Chinese inadvertently self-spoiled *facepalm* In any case the 3 main leads are absolutely killing it!

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I was curious if this would happen. I am so sorry for those who were spoiled.

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Haha it went by so quickly I didn’t catch it fast enough but also holding myself not to pause or go back to read it lol

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That scroll sealed the deal for me, I HAVE to know what's in it! Her initial steely refusal to her punishment, gone in a snap after reading the scroll? Color me intrigued!
Thank you for the recap and your thoughtful comments @lollypip!

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Thank you for the wonderful re-cap, Lollypip. I am loving this show. The mirror stories of the landlady and Wol-joo were perfect storytelling.

I too want to know what was on that scroll. The fact that we are now pulled into wanting to know that is further proof of the writer's storytelling ability - think THE THOUSAND AND ONE ARABIAN NIGHTS.

The one thing that I worry about is this: What happens to Kang-bae when this is all over? Is he simply "cured". Would it not be better if, instead, he were given control over his ability- the ability to turn it off when it is not needed, but turn it on when he can see that someone needs his help? That would turn it from a curse to a blessing.

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i wasn't so sure about this one but it drew me in and i loved writing about it. since i am not able to draw my own conclusions when they jump around without inviting me onboard. their team is a great matchup contrary to what my brain thought before watching 1 and 2. i like the symbolism of deep repressed memories (got to figure out the code to my door) . thank you for the recap!

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Considering this is only the second episode of the show, it is a testament to the show's execution that I already feel connected to all the major players. And I was happy to see Baek Ji-won giving us another example of her talent to play multi-layered, vulnerable characters.
Now I am very intrigued into Manager Gwi's backstory - and how and when they are going to weave this into the show. Fingers crossed the show can keep up its unique way of storytelling!

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Thank you for the recap @lollypip !
I totally agree, I loved Wol-joo for her unforgiving reaction towards to Landlady Andong. That fit Wol-joo's character, and we can understand and feel her pain.
Baek Ji-won (Landlady Andong) is such a versatile actress.
I really love her!
She is fantastic and believable in every role she plays (e.g. a catholic nun/ex-professional gambler in The Fiery Priest)
I'm super looking forward to see cameos every episode!

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This drama just proves once again why I can't move on from KDramas! 😅😳♥️

Where else can one be quickly invested in the story, can know so much yet so little about the main characters, can one go from laughing, crying and doing some deep reflection... and all in the first 2 episodes!

I was gonna wait for a few more before starting it... but curiosity got the best of me 😂

On a lighter note, this is the most beautiful I've seen of Hwang Jung-eum, didn't even know it was her!

I'm sure we'll get to ride more roller coasters in the next... well, 10 eps!

Thanks again for the recap @lollypip!

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@kdragon - I just started watching MPUB and like you did not recognize HJE, to the point I had to look up who the FL was. She is absolutely gorgeous and her acting may be a little over the top to some it was perfect for this role.

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I feel like destroying the Sacred Tree so it's not protecting the country so then another country is more capable of invading and then during that invasion a hundred thousand people died is maaaaybe a few steps too removed for me so I'm super interested to see what else is in that scroll. On the flip side, I like that Wol-joo had something of a narrative choice in her punishment

Overall, I'm really digging the tone of the show. Really loved how emotionally complicated the main case was but then got to laugh my butt off during the password-guessing scene

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On point about how exposition is handled in this show. More showing than telling, which is a good sign that the world of the show is fully understood (it also helps that there's an excellent web comic for a blueprint).

Whatever info that scroll contained must have been shattering, because Wol-joo had already been in hell of, according to the Netflix translation, boiling cauldrons, and still wasn't repentant, at all. HJE is my ultimate bias, so I am proud to see her carrying this role so damn well.

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I am enjoying this more for it being the bit of light fantasy I need right now, rather than really being invested in the characters. So I did not expect to be hit emotionally so hard by the mother/daughter story and reconciliation with Sun-Hwa. Props to the creative team.

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It's also quite ironic that malicious rumor is impacting the show IRL. Hopefully with the culprit apologising, people will stop boycotting it and its ratings will rise to an adequate level.

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Not quite sure what malicious rumor you're referring to - the PD's link to Jang Ja-Yeon's list?

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I've just finished this episode, and I loved it even more than the first one.
I love the premise of one soul an episode, and I also like the way we are being told how things work in Dreamland. I usually hate when actors have to play the "on previous episodes/scenes of..." just to explain what's happened so viewers are not confused as they always feel unnatural. Not here, the way Wol-Joo explained things to Kang Bae felt totally natural.
Regarding the scroll, I agree with Lollypip it may have relation to the Crown Prince better than her mother, but...

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The trio works and i love them. Choi Won Young is always a baddy so it's really nice seeing his different side in this drama. HJE make up really fits her he was beautiful here and i think she toned down her voice little bit as my husband said to me that her voice is a bit different in her old dramas. Yook Seung Jae being the maknae is refreshing I think he asked his role model Lee Seung Gi (lol Master in the house) for some advice. In all new dramas I'm watching right now I am more excited on this drama. Can't wait for the next episode to see what problem our trio will encounter next :)

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Little late on the comments. But this a keeper for me. I like this type of storylines when supernatural elements involved.

and the characters fit well with the actors. and for once HwangJung Eum 's style of acting is matched to expectations on her character after living so so long.

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So far, this is still pleasantly surprising me. I checked this out since I am looking for a show that will replace my happy pill so far (Hospital Playlist - which is sadly ending this week). Looks like I found one. Hopefully this will not disappoint. I have high hopes - with only 12 episodes , then that guarantees that it will at least be fast -paced and no filler episodes. (fingers crossed)

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I love the show. The trio's different type of acting skills and how interact with each other. can't wait for next episode. This is my Wednesday - Thursday drama :D

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I'm really liking this show after 2 episodes! I did find that Hwang Jung-Eum was enunciating words in a pretty weird way in some moments at the start of the first episode, but she just seemed to settle in so well and seamlessly after that into the role, that I'm excited about this Show now.

Especially love the dynamics between Wol-joo and Manager Gwi, and now with Kang-bae in the fray, their chemistry is really good! And yes, I also like that the rules of the fantasy dream world were explained to the viewers through the plot, rather than exposition and dialogue (side-eyeing The King here).

Question though - If Wol-joo died at a relatively young age (hence the use of a different young actress), why is it that, as a ghost, she "aged" / "grew up" (hence Hwang Jung-eum) into an adult, but then after that remained immortal-looking (as should be usual for a ghost) for 500 years? Wonder if there is a minor world-building inconsistency here, but otherwise I'm happy to do a little logical leap here, since this is not central to the theme of the drama.

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I know many of Kdrama fans comparing this drama with Hotel Del Luna (same directing style and almost similar plot). But, I do believe each of them is unique on their own.

2nd episode was so much better, but rating was really a bad way to represent its quality of this drama. Definitely in my watchlist (sorry Eternal Monarch- just put you on hold after 2 eps).

So far, love everything about it (the actress, actors, case per case storyline, their deeper messages in each episodes)... a good combination and definitely will continue to watch it (great things that my husband is enjoying this one too 🥰).

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the bad rating was caused by two reasons:
1. Hospital playlist showed on the same day. (Thursday kst). I’m guessing that the 4th episode may have the same fate on ratings.
2. Witch hunt. False rumor spread around about the PD involvement on a case. Which turns out to be false. The person has the same surname with the PD. It was a mistaken identity. The one who spead the rumor already apologized (aside from a youtuber) to jtbc. Many people too apologized on sns.. The network and the PD are now collecting evidences to take legal action against the rumor speaders.

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Choi Wonyoung is winning the drama

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He was like a superhero when he took down the evil spirit hahaha that sword and his cape :D

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Kang Bae, Manager Gwi and Wol Joo would make a cute family.

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Your drama reviews are always the best! :)

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I don't understand why the switched actresses for the lead. I don't think it was necessary :(

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