Mystic Pop-up Bar: Episode 6
After the previous episode, I needed something to make me laugh, and this episode delivers plenty of hilarious situations to lighten the mood. The Mystic Pop-up Bar trio’s newest client still has a serious problem, and again, it reminds our cranky bartender of her own tragic past. Whatever you thought you knew about her, be prepared for new information to turn everything on its ear.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
Kang-bae has a dream that he and Yeo-rin win the Kapeul Mart’s dance competition, and the prize is a jade ring. Yeo-rin holds out a hand expectantly, but when Kang-bae kneels and puts the ring on her finger (with a cute little happy fist-pump), Yeo-rin suddenly transforms into Manager Ma. Manager Ma simpers at Kang-bae and puckers up as the audience chants for a kiss, which finally wakes up Kang-bae.
He tells Wol-joo and Manager Gwi about his dream, wondering what it means, especially since the jade ring seemed familiar to him. Manager Gwi tells Kang-bae supportively that he’s totally cool if this is about Kang-bae’s sexual orientation (ha), but Wol-joo thinks it was a conception dream.
Kang-bae also tells Manager Ma and Jin-dong about the dream when he gets to work. Manager Ma’s wife calls to tell him that she’s expecting a baby, which convinces the guys that Kang-bae really did have a conception dream. Manager Ma is so excited that he promises to give Kang-bae anything he wants while practicing for the dance contest.
Wol-joo had told Kang-bae and Manager Gwi that her mother dreamed of a jade ring before she was born. She asks Manager Gwi what his mother dreamed about, but before he can tell her anything about it (other than that it was quite grand), she’s distracted by a little boy playing a claw machine.
She makes the kid move so she can try, and ends up taking over the whole machine. Manager Gwi pretends he doesn’t care, but he gets as invested as Wol-joo in winning a stuffed toy. The poor kid eventually wanders off, while Wol-joo and Manager Gwi end up spending all their grocery money, LOL.
Meanwhile, Kang-bae and Yeo-rin have their first dance lesson with a professional teacher, and Kang-bae is pretty horrible (ha, I love watching idols pretend they can’t dance). He has zero sense of rhythm, and when he and Yeo-rin try their routine together, he gets flustered during a dip and drops Yeo-rin on her butt.
The teacher, SOO-KYUNG (cameo by Lee Seo-an), keeps Kang-bae after class for more practice. She loses her temper with him, snapping that usually people get better with practice, though that’s not always the case with other things in this world. It’s a strange veer off-topic, and Soo-kyung looks guilty.
Wol-joo and Manager Gwi decide to borrow more grocery money from Kang-bae, whose dance lesson is right nearby. They watch through the window as Kang-bae hesitates to hold Soo-kyung’s hands to practice, but when they let themselves in, they startle Soo-kyung so that she steps on Kang-bae’s foot and stumbles into his arms.
She falls to the floor, overcome by Kang-bae’s ability, and says in a monotone, “No matter how hard I try, I can’t get pregnant.” Oh, poor thing. She tells the trio that she received fertility treatments for two years, and that she did get pregnant before too long.
She and her husband IN-HO (cameo by Tae In-ho) were beyond thrilled. But then she lost the baby, and it made her wonder if she just wasn’t meant to be a mother despite In-ho and her doctor both saying it wasn’t her fault. She’d resumed the treatments right away, but she never got pregnant again.
After two years, Soo-kyung and In-ho were both exhausted. Soo-kyung had started taking out her disappointment on In-ho, yelling at him for no reason and refusing him in bed. In-ho had suggested they stop all this, worried for Soo-kyung and for their relationship and saying that he can’t remember when they last laughed together, or even had a normal conversation.
Although Soo-kyung was heartbroken, In-ho had said that they could still build a life together, and she had agreed to stop trying. She admits to Wol-joo that she still wants a baby, and Wol-joo agrees that it’s not something she can give up easily. Kang-bae’s ability wears off and Soo-kyung apologizes for unloading her personal problems on them, but Wol-joo gives her a card for Mystic Pop-up Bar in case she ever needs to talk some more.
As they leave, Kang-bae says it’s too bad he already gave his conception dream to Manager Ma or he’d give it to Soo-kyung. Manager Gwi says it doesn’t work that way… there’s a being who sets everything up and hands out the conception dreams. Wol-joo gets an idea and runs off to see SAMSHIN (cameo by Oh Young-shil), who just happens to keep her conception dreams in an otherworldly claw machine (because of course she does).
Samshin is focused on drawing out just the right dream — they’re all inside bubbles, cute little animals or flowers or fruit, etc — when Wol-joo nearly scares the pants off her. Wol-joo keeps quiet while Samshin draws a bubble containing a walnut and puts it in a briefcase, then follows her to deliver it.
They strut through a dream park until they find Samshin’s target, a well-dressed young woman. Samshin gives her the bubble, which pops in her hands to become two walnuts. She proudly tells the woman that they’re her future children, but the woman asks if the walnuts mean she’s having boys (PFFT HAHAHA), then tries to give them back because she wants daughters. LOL, poor Samshin.
Wol-joo gets Samshin a coffee truck to butter her up, then hits her with a request — she wants to give Soo-kyung a conception dream. Samshin checks her notes for Soo-kyung and In-ho and says there are no babies planned for that couple yet, and she can’t say if or when they ever will get one, no matter how much Wol-joo nags.
Meanwhile, Manager Gwi sweeps up outside Mystic Pop-up Bar while Kang-bae hands out coupons. They have no idea they’re being watched by a dark figure, who glares at them angrily. In flashback, we see that he was a nobleman named KIM WON-YOUNG (Na Jong-chan) back when Wol-joo was alive.
The crown prince had introduced Won-young to a nervous Wol-joo, saying that Won-young was his oldest friend. Won-young had the prince’s complete trust, but there had been something dark behind Won-young’s eyes when he looked at Wol-joo. In the present, Won-young growls, “”After hundreds of years, here we are again. How are you? Your old friend is finally here, Your Majesty.”
Wol-joo wants to just steal a conception dream from Samshin, since she wouldn’t give her one, but Manager Gwi and Kang-bae both think it’s a terrible idea. Kang-bae even reminds her of how angry she was when he stole the ssanggapju, and Wol-joo’s response is a terse, “Shut up,” hee.
Chief Yeom wanders in, and the trio do a terrible job pretending they weren’t talking about something that could get them in big trouble. He gets a call about another escaped evil spirit, but when GM shows interest, Wol-joo orders Chief Yeom to get away because they’re already busy with something.
At work, Jin-dong catches Kang-bae practicing his dance moves in the locker room. He shrewdly guesses that Kang-bae is starting to like Yeo-rin, and Kang-bae doesn’t bother to deny that he thinks she’s lovely and feminine (Jin-dong: “Are we talking about the same person??” HAHA).
Kang-bae likes the sound of a “workplace romance,” and he floats down the hall, where he runs into Yeo-rin herself. She asks how his extra practice went, so he assures her that he’s getting a little better. Yeo-rin says “a little better” isn’t going to cut it… they’re aiming for first place.
They both have the day off tomorrow, so Kang-bae suggests they go shopping for costumes. Yeo-rin looks gorgeous in a red fringed dress, and poor Kang-bae nearly swallows his own tongue. His matching black outfit is a bit more embarrassing, with the neckline cut halfway down to his bellybutton, but Yeo-rin certainly seems to like it.
When they’re done, Kang-bae says he just happens to have two free movie tickets that expire today. They go see a movie called “The Gout Lovers” (starring Yoon Park and Ha Shi-eun), about two people with gout who fall in love but can never touch each other without causing great pain. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but Kang-bae knows all too well how that feels and sobs his little heart out.
Interestingly, Yeo-rin also finds the movie extremely sad. She says she understands how the main couple felt when they had to break up, and Kang-bae agrees that it’s painful to know how much the person you care about is hurting but not be able to do anything about it. They exchange a look, as if surprised that someone understands.
At home, Yeo-rin’s roommate insists that Kang-bae must like Yeo-rin. Yeo-rin gets a text from him and she pretends she’s not eager to read it, reminding her roommate that Kang-bae says he only wanted to be her dance partner because he feels comfortable around her. Surprised, her roommate says that’s different from every other guy in Yeo-rin’s past.
Back in school, whenever Yeo-rin liked a guy, everything would go well until she confessed, then the guy would freak out and run away. They would go from liking her back, to suddenly afraid of her, and one guy even transferred to a different school to avoid her.
She finally got one boyfriend to stick around long enough to tell her that he got the creeps when she touched him, and she’d realized that it happened whenever she touched a guy she liked for the first time. Her roommate points out that she likes Kang-bae and has touched him, but he doesn’t get scared or run away.
Awww, poor Kang-bae stares at his phone nonstop while he’s working. Wol-joo says it’s a good sign that Yeo-rin hasn’t read it yet, which means she’s not ignoring him. When she does read it, all three of them hold their breath hoping for a response, but one doesn’t come and Kang-bae collapses in defeat.
In-ho and Soo-kyung meet with some friends for lunch, and Soo-kyung grows sad all over again watching In-ho interact with their friends’ children. At home, In-ho attempts to initiate intimacy again, but Soo-kyung pushes him away saying there’s no point.
She tells In-ho that when she saw him with those children, she felt bad for not being able to give him a child of his own. In-ho argues that he loves her, and that not having children doesn’t render their lives meaningless. Soo-kyung yells that if they weren’t married she wouldn’t be suffering this pain.
She storms out and goes for a walk, and she ends up at Mystic Pop-up Bar. Wol-joo serves her dakgangjeong, spicy fried chicken, and Soo-kyung says it’s her and In-ho’s favorite dish, though she gave it up when she was trying to conceive along with any products that might have harmful ingredients.
She says she’s always believed that hard work pays off, but now she knows that sometimes that’s not true. She admits that she fought with In-ho before coming here, and Wol-joo stops her from eating the dakgangjeong. She says it tastes better when it’s cooled down a bit, just like how painful things in life eventually settle and pass.
Wol-joo suggests that Soo-kyung let go until things cool down, and sends her home with the dakgangjeong — and a bottle of sanggapju-laced wine — to share with her husband. As they eat, Soo-kyung says she’s happy as long as she’s with In-ho, and he says he’s sorry for thinking she could give up on a baby so easily.
Manager Gwi refuses to help Wol-joo steal a conception dream, and he demands to know why she’s so determined to do this. Wol-joo says she loved a man once, and dreamed of marrying him and having his children. She says it was an ordinary dream, but he wasn’t an ordinary man, so she died without fulfilling her dream.
She knows how desperate and precious Soo-kyung’s dream is, and she tells Manager Gwi that she doesn’t expect him to understand — the only person who understands is her mother (what’s his expression about there? Hmmm…). She only asks him not to stop her, but he says firmly that there are now two people who understand her. Kang-bae enters, and Manager Gwi leads them out.
They sneak into Samshin’s house and confirm that she’s fast asleep (and farting up a storm, ewww, but Kang-bae’s giggle fit is adorable). They hold their breath until they get to the room where the conception dream claw machine lives, and Kang-bae stands watch while Wol-joo and Manager Gwi take turns failing to grab any bubbles.
Frustrated, Wol-joo gives the machine a vicious kick, and three bubbles fall out. Success! They grab the conception bubbles and head out, but the claw machine beeps and wakes up Samshin, and she finds a Mystic Pop-up Bar coupon that fell out of Wol-joo’s pocket and immediately guesses that she’s been robbed.
The trio wait by a dream river for Soo-kyung, and when she eventually arrives, they toss one of the conception bubbles into the water. It turns into a pink lotus flower, but when Soo-kyung tries to pick it up, she only splashes around and makes it float away.
They decide to try another bubble, and this one turns into a tiger. But it refuses to pounce on Soo-kyung when she walks by — HAHA, the zookeeper says that the tiger has already pounced on seventeen women tonight so he’s all tuckered out.
Samshin runs at them and almost catches up to the thieves, so Manager Gwi throws the last conception bubble at Soo-kyung. They find themselves dressed formally and Soo-kyung in Joseon bridal garb, with the peach from the conception bubble on the table between them. Soo-kyung bows her respects as if Manager Gwi and Wol-joo are her new in-laws.
Wol-joo tosses the peach to Soo-kyung, but Samshin bursts in at the last second and intercepts it mid-air. She takes off, and there’s a wild chase scene as the trio try their best to get the peach back for Soo-kyung. Wol-joo grabs Samshin’s hair, which causes her to fumble the peach. Manager Gwi grabs it but Samshin tickles him, so he passes the peach to Kang-bae.
They play hot-potato with the peach until Samshin goes low and kicks Manager Gwi in the walnuts, so he flings the peach at Kang-bae again. Kang-bae makes a Hail Mary pass, and the peach lands safely in Soo-kyung’s arms. They did it!
Not much later, Soo-kyung and In-ho are seen leaving the doctor’s office, all their focus on their new little bump. The trio wish for them to have a happy, healthy baby, then bicker over who’s responsible for getting the peach to Soo-kyung, hee. Manager Gwi and Wol-joo do a silly dance as they head back to the pojangmacha.
As Kang-bae watches them, he thinks, “Everyone has a wound that pains them. The moment you’re willing to reveal that wound you wanted to hide, is when you find someone with the same wound. As you show them your true self, and when they do the same, you get to know each other little by little.”
When they get back to their corner, they see Chief Yeom directing some men as they clear out Mystic Pop-up Bar. Chief Yeom informs Wol-joo, Manager Gwi, and Kang-bae that they broke the laws of Heaven by stealing the conception dream, so Queen Yeomra has declared Mystic Pop-up Bar suspended indefinitely.
I’ve been waiting for Wol-joo’s impulsiveness to get her in trouble, and I’m really only surprised it took five hundred years for it to happen. Stealing that conception dream was a stupid idea, even if Wol-joo’s heart was in the right place, so I think Queen Yeomra was absolutely right to suspend the pojangmacha. I believe that a large reason Wol-joo was sent to the world of the living to help people in the first place was to learn a lesson, since the Hell of Boiling Cauldrons didn’t seem to be doing the trick, but Wol-joo certainly hasn’t learned much so far. She’s still bitter, she still (says she) hates humans, and she still does whatever she wants regardless of the consequences to herself or others. I have a feeling she’s going to have a very difficult time getting her pojangmacha back in time to finish her quota by the deadline.
This episode turned a few of my theories a bit sideways, shedding a bit of doubt on some assumptions that I was pretty sure were true. The main thing I’m now doubting is that Manager Gwi is the crown prince that Wol-joo loved, though that’s mostly based on one throwaway comment from Kang-bae that the jade ring in his dream looked familiar (the crown prince was planning to give Wol-joo a jade ring the night she died). Now I think it’s possible that Kang-bae is the crown prince’s reincarnation, and that Manager Gwi is someone else — Wol-joo’s mother, maybe? The way he looked at her when she said only her mother understands her was… interesting. It would explain Manager Gwi’s protectiveness of Wol-joo, and there’s no rule we know of that says a spirit can’t present as either gender. There’s also nothing that says Wol-joo and the prince have to end up together romantically again, if Kang-bae is the crown prince.
I really want to know what’s going on with Yeo-rin. We know now that she’s not just immune to Kang-bae’s ability — she has a bizarre “ability” of her own. Yeo-rin’s power is the exact opposite of Kang-bae’s… where his touch draws people to him and inspires them to trust him with their deepest secrets, Yeo-rin’s touch repels men to the point of abject terror (as well as somehow nullifying Chief Yeom’s powers). But it only seems to happen when Yeo-rin confesses her feelings to a guy — her roommate seems to be able to touch her, and she’s touched people through her work as a security guard without any strange responses. Either way, it’s no wonder Yeo-rin and Kang-bae cancel each other out. But how did they end up with such powers, and are their abilities random or do they have a purpose?
And who is this Won-young guy all of a sudden? He has connections to Wol-joo and the prince back to their days among the living, but why is he so angry? He appeared to resent Wol-joo on first sight, although the prince felt confident that he could trust him, and the way he was following Wol-joo on the night everything went wrong gives me a very bad feeling. Did Won-young kill Wol-joo’s mother? If so, why? And what grudge is he still carrying around, five hundred years later?
- Premiere Watch: Old School Intern, Mystic Pop-up Bar, Team Bulldog: Off-duty Investigation
- New Mystic Pop-up Bar teaser and Yook Sung-jae’s last video message before military
- Yook Sung-jae, Hwang Jung-eum in new stills for Mystic Pop-up Bar
- Fantasy drama Mystic Pop-up Bar releases new teaser
- Hwang Jung-eum, Yook Sung-jae consider new JTBC fantasy drama