Mystic Pop-up Bar: Episode 7
Today’s episode is fun, with another problem to solve and Mystic Pop-up Bar’s very existence on the line. There’s dancing and silly shenanigans, but yet again our focus issue is one that tugs at your heart. We get some more answers about everyone’s backgrounds, and the evil that’s threatening to destroy them for good, and none of the answers make me worry any less for our pojangmacha trio.
EPISODE 7 RECAP
After Wol-joo steals the conception dream and gives it to a woman without permission, Queen Yeomra orders Mystic Pop-up Bar shut down indefinitely. Wol-joo and Manager Gwi ask for leniency, but Queen Yeomra says that Wol-joo thinks the rules don’t apply to her because she’s already been too nice.
She does agree not to take back the child they gave to the couple, but she decides the case won’t count towards Wol-joo’s quota. She also sentences them to 120 hours of Afterlife community service, and says they can’t re-open Mystic Pop-up Bar until they’re finished.
They end up helping the Reincarnation Rating Committee, who review people’s lives and give them a grade. Grade A means they get to be reborn as human, Grade B has them coming back as an animal, and Grade C sentences the worst people to a life as an insect.
A guy who sold food laced with dangerous chemicals gets sentenced to be a dung beetle, which seems fair. The next are seven firefighters who saved many people from a burning department store before losing their own lives. They’re naturally given a Grade A, and they say humbly that they just want to be reborn as a pleasant cool breeze. But Manager Gwi gets a great idea — since they have such good teamwork, they get to be reborn as a world-famous seven-member boy band called Breeze-Like Souls… or BLS, for short (awww, that makes my ARMY heart happy).
The next step is for the souls to enter the Shower of Oblivion, where their previous life’s memories are washed away. The man slated to be a dung beetle is scared, but Wol-joo reassures him that he won’t even know he was scared in a few moments, and he comes out of the shower with a clean memory and no fear.
During a break, Manager Gwi says he misses Kang-bae, and Wol-joo thinks he must be busy practicing for the dance competition. They’re worried that they won’t have enough time to fill Wol-joo’s quota once they serve all their time, and Wol-joo says that at least Manager Gwi can go back to the Afterlife Police if they fail, while she’ll go straight to hell.
Manager Gwi says that her 99,995 settled grudges might get Wol-joo a reduced sentence of a Grade C reincarnation. She admits that she’s jealous of those who get to be reincarnated because they can forget their old lives, while she’s been in pain for five hundred years. Manager Gwi asks sadly if her life was really that bad, and if there isn’t just one thing that was good in her life.
Wol-joo does say she was happy being her mother’s daughter, and wonders if her mother felt the same way. Manager Gwi is certain that Wol-joo’s mother enjoyed her life with Wol-joo, and when Wol-joo scoffs, “How would you know?” he only says cagily, “I just do.” Wol-joo sighs that her mother probably wouldn’t even recognize her, but Manager Gwi says she might even be watching Wol-joo right now.
While cleaning in the reincarnation records room, Wol-joo looks up some famous people to see where they ended up. She thinks about Manager Gwi saying that her mother might be nearby, so she considers looking up her mother’s records later. She does stop when she spots the records for the Joseon royal family, and she hesitantly looks up her prince.
Just seeing his name (Yi Heon) brings back a lot of happy memories of them falling in love, especially one night when he had promised to protect Wol-joo. But she’s interrupted by Manager Gwi before she sees who Yi Heon was reincarnated as, because they’ve been summoned by Queen Yeomra.
Poor Kang-bae is depressed, missing his friends, when Yeo-rin asks to speak to him privately. She asks why he missed practice and ignored her calls yesterday, and she objects to his vague apology. Kang-bae says his head is in a bad place, and Yeo-rin assumes he’s upset because she didn’t reply to his text message. LOL, Kang-bae says he forgot all about that… poor Yeo-rin.
Kang-bae hurries to Mystic Pop-up Bar’s usual location, but the spot is empty for the third night in a row. He thinks about all of his happy moments with Wol-joo and Manager Gwi, and he fervently hopes they’re doing well and that they’ll visit him in a dream soon.
Yeo-rin’s roommate decides that Kang-bae must be a player, who “lights a match and just lets it burn.” Yeo-rin protests that she’s not some piece of dry wood, but her roommate points out that she’s never even kissed a guy. Yeo-rin says it’s not her fault guys run away when she starts to like them, so her roommate tells her that before she starts to like Kang-bae, she needs to kiss him.
Queen Yeomra is suspiciously friendly when Wol-joo and Manager Gwi come to her office. She reluctantly confesses that she made a teeny tiny mistake and needs a teeny tiny favor. She had been surveying her Hellish domains when she got an angry text message from the Jade Emperor about the escaped evil spirit. He had threatened to strip her of her rank, so Queen Yeomra had sent back a fawning message promising to handle it.
She’d gotten a sympathetic text from Samshin, and when she wrote back calling the Jade Emperor names, an employee had bumped into her and the message was accidentally sent to the Jade Emperor. HAHAHA, oops. Queen Yeomra had started to compose a conciliatory text, but her phone chose that moment to run out of battery.
She’d run to the docent’s desk and unplugged a random plug to charge her phone, but unfortunately, she’d disconnected the power to the Shower of Oblivion. A soul whose memory was supposed to be wiped didn’t get reset, and when the soul in charge of him had returned from the restroom, he hadn’t told her the shower malfunctioned.
Queen Yeomra tells Wol-joo and Manager Gwi that the soul was sent back to Earth with his memories intact, and that he’s disappeared. She asks them to find the spirit before the Jade Emperor finds out and fires her, and Wol-joo sees a chance to do some negotiation. She haggles Queen Yeomra into promising to reinstate Mystic Pop-up Bar as soon as she catches the missing soul, as well as canceling their community service, extending Wol-joo’s deadline by ten days, and counting this towards her quota.
The spirit is JANG BOK-SOO (cameo by Choi Dae-hoon), a gambler whose only goal in life was to hit it big. He’d stolen from family and friends to feed his habit, and was hit by a car and killed while running from loan sharks.
The Reincarnation Rating Committee had given him a Grade B and sent him back as an animal that would bring joy and happiness to others… a chicken, hee. But since Bok-soo’s memory wasn’t erased, he freaks out that he might get fried and eaten when he sees the egg he’s supposed to be born into.
He’s about to enter the egg when a man comes in to collect it and trips, knocking himself out. Bok-soo figures an old man is better than a fried egg so he possesses him, and he’s delighted to learn that the old man just happens to be filthy rich.
Kang-bae gets excited when there’s a red pojangmacha tent in Mystic Pop-up Bar’s old spot, but it turns out to be someone else’s shop. But Wol-joo and Manager Gwi are standing nearby waving at him, and he bursts into tears and runs into their arms. Such a sweet boy. They reassure him that they’re doing better than he seems to be, then fill him on on what’s been happening.
They head to the house where Bok-soo’s egg was laid, to look for a lead on his location. When he emerges, Kang-bae recognizes the man he’s inhabiting as CEO KIM (cameo by Kim Yong-gun), CEO of Kapeul Mart. Manager Gwi is about to impersonate CEO Kim when a van delivers some produce, so he and Kang-bae pose as workers to get into the house.
They make their way to the chicken coop, where Manager Gwi tries to talk to the chickens (of course he speaks Chicken, lol), but they don’t feel like talking. He makes Kang-bae touch one chicken, and HAHA, his ability works on her. She tells Manager Gwi that Bok-soo’s spirit is possessing CEO Kim’s body.
While he’s being driven to work, Bok-soo’s car passes a chalk outline of a body in the street, and it reminds Bok-soo of the last time he saw a friend of his who runs a produce stand. He’d been asking to borrow money yet again, to pay off a loan shark. His friend had asked how long Bok-soo planned to keep living like this, but he’d agreed to bail Bok-soo out one last time.
His friend had gotten a phone call, and Bok-soo heard him asking the caller if they were here yet. The loan shark and his thugs had turned up just then, so Bok-soo assumed his friend called them on him. He had made a run for it… right into the path of the car that killed him.
Now Bok-soo vows to make the “friend” pay for betraying him and getting him killed. He hires the loan shark and his lackeys to destroy the poor man’s produce stand, then goes on a power trip of paying the loan shark according to how low he bows to him.
Wol-joo and Manager Gwi catch the end of their interaction, and later, the trio talk about Bok-soo’s likelihood of going nuts now that he has both money and power. Kang-bae is worried about CEO Kim, who he says is a very nice man, but who’s stuck in his own subconscious with no way out. Wol-joo says they need to get Bok-soo to drink the ssanggapju, but the bar is still suspended.
As CEO of Kapeul Mart, Bok-soo shows up at the final rehearsal for the dance contest with snacks for the contestants. Kang-bae wonders if he should use his ability on him, but when conversation turns to this year’s winning prize (having a wish granted by CEO Kim), he gets a better idea. He tells Wol-joo and Manager Gwi that he plans to win the dance contest and wish for CEO Kim to have a drink at his place, at which point they can give him the ssanggapju.
At the dance studio, Yeo-rin asks Kang-bae hopefully if she’s the reason he’s suddenly so determined to win. She’s immediately embarrassed, but Kang-bae says he needs to win for someone who’s very important to him, and she gets excited that he might mean her. This time when they practice their dip, it’s Yeo-rin who gets all flustered, remembering her roommate’s advice to kiss Kang-bae.
Chief Yeom and his assistant have dinner and talk about work, and the assistant asks if Chief Yeom looked at the profile of the escaped evil spirit yet. When Chief Yeom checks the profile, he looks surprised — it’s Won-hyung, Crown Prince Yi Heon’s old friend, who’s still following him five hundred years later.
On the day of the dance competition, Wol-joo and Manager Gwi’s brilliant and totally ethical strategy is to sabotage the other dancers so that Kang-bae and Yeo-rin win. Manager Gwi impersonates one of the managers and tries to get his partner to drink a laxative-laced energy drink, but she puts the drink down and makes him rehearse. She wears him out, and he grabs the energy drink without thinking… oh no.
Meanwhile, Wol-joo is hard at work ruining the costumes of the other dancers. Her efforts pay off when one contestant’s pants fall off in the middle of their dance, one couple slips and falls, and a third give up when the fish sauce on the man’s shirt makes the woman need to throw up.
But the couple that Manager Gwi failed to break up do pretty great, so Yeo-rin gets worried when it’s almost their turn. Kang-bae gives her a pep talk, telling her to just do her best, then they go out for their dance. They are adorable, and their routine goes off without a hitch, including the big dip at the end.
And they win! Bok-soo presents them with their prize and asks what their wishes are. Yeo-rin wishes to be made a permanent employee, which Bok-soo grants, and he’s more than happy to agree to have a drink at Kang-bae’s home. Awww, Poor Manager Gwi only now shows up after being stuck in the bathroom for the entire competition.
When Bok-soo goes to Kang-bae’s place, Manager Gwi and Wol-joo pose as his aunt and uncle. Bok-soo notes how small Kang-bae’s rooftop apartment is and gives him terrible advice about not working too hard and just needing to hit it big. Wol-joo oh-so-politely lets him know he’s dead wrong, and finally gets him to drink the ssanggapju.
In Bok-soo’s dream, he doesn’t die when he’s hit by the car. He follows a trail of cash in the street, stuffing each bill greedily into his pockets until they lead him to the loan sharks’ hideout. He eavesdrops on their conversation when he realizes they’re talking about him.
They laugh about how Bok-soo ran when he saw them at the produce stand, which they find hilarious since they weren’t there for him — they were there because the produce stand owner has been paying off Bok-soo’s debts..
Bok-soo hurries to the produce stand, where his friend is talking to his fiancee. She’s very upset because he keeps using his savings to bail out Bok-soo instead of saving for their future. Ten years ago, Bok-soo moved out of his house and used his deposit money to pay for his friend’s mother’s surgery, but his fiancee thinks he’s done enough to pay Bok-soo back.
Wol-joo approaches Bok-soo, who’s devastated to realize that he ruined his only friend’s business over a misunderstanding. He tries to wake up so he can rebuild the shop, but Wol-joo scoffs that they money is CEO Kim’s, not his. She tells Bok-soo to do the right thing and receive his punishment.
She says he’ll be downgraded to a Grade C, but that she’ll make sure his friend is taken care of. Bok-soo agrees, but Wol-joo says he’s not ready yet… he’s still holding all the money he picked up, hee. He eagerly throws it all in the garbage, and Wol-joo smiles.
Kang-bae and Yeo-rin sit together on the Kapeul Mart roof, and Yeo-rin gets fixated on Kang-bae’s pretty lips. He smiles, and Yeo-rin goes for it, planting a big smooch on him. She runs off, suddenly shy, leaving Kang-bae wondering what just happened.
At night, Chief Yeom’s assistant waits on a dark rooftop for the evil spirit to appear. It’s not long before Won-hyung shows up, and although the assistant has a sword and some pretty incredible skills, Won-hyung easily holds him off bare-handed. He grabs the assistant by the throat, and the assistant asks how an evil spirit can be so strong.
Won-hyung says that he’s been wandering the country devouring other evil spirits and gaining their strength. He opens his mouth wide and devours the assistant, but he grumbles that it’s not enough. “You just wait,” he growls, “It will be your turn soon.”
Kang-bae acts all blissed out as Wol-joo and Manager Gwi sit down for drinks, but he swears up and down it has nothing to do with Yeo-rin. He gets maudlin and wonders what he did in a past life to justify this life being so difficult, but when he sighs that it might have been better if he’s been reborn as an insect, Wol-joo snaps that they wouldn’t have met him and become friends.
He admits that he was incredibly lonely while they were gone, and Manager Gwi asks what he’ll do when they finish Wol-joo’s quota and Mystic Pop-up Bar disappears. Kang-bae asks if they can stay, but Wol-joo says that he won’t have his ability anymore so he should get a girlfriend and enjoy a normal life. He still wants to know about his past life, but Manager Gwi and Wol-joo says it’s forbidden and that he wouldn’t be able to live a normal life if he knew.
Chief Yeom goes to the roof where his assistant fought Won-hyung, and he finds his assistant’s discarded sword. He says out loud, “You must have suffered so much for the past five hundred years. Your anger and resentment. I will help end your pain. Come to me, Won-hyung.”
He stops by Mystic Pop-up Bar, where our trio has gotten good and drunk and are ready to relocate to a noraebang. Chief Yeom is back to his cheerful self, and he complains about how much money he spent buying food while Mystic Pop-up Bar was out of commission. He agrees to go with them for round two, but as they trot off happily, arm in arm, Chief Yeom’s smile falters.
Well, I’m definitely sure that the crown prince is back in one form or another, but I’m still not entirely certain what form that is. I’m glad that Wol-joo wasn’t able to see who he’d been reincarnated as, because I think the answer will shock her, and she needs to focus on finishing her task. But I think she, and we, will be learning the truth soon enough, and I’m not sure that any answer will allay my concerns for everyone involved.
We’re still getting hints that Manager Gwi might be Wol-joo’s mother and that Kang-bae may be Crown Prince Yi Heon’s reincarnation, but I’m not sure what to think. Obviously the show wants us confused, and right now it’s doing a great job. Both Wol-joo’s mother and the crown prince have reasons for wanting to protect Wol-joo, so it would make sense for Manager Gwi to be either of them, but I still believe he’s the prince (mostly because of his fighting prowess). I don’t see any indications of Kang-bae being the prince, but I could believe him being Wol-joo’s mother — it would give a reason for his ability, if she wanted to come back and help her daughter accomplish her goal. It would also explain why he’s so loving and has gotten attached to Wol-joo so quickly. So for now I think that Manager Gwi is the prince and Kang-bae is the mother, and only time will tell if I’m right.
I really hope that whatever Kang-bae’s story is, he’s not the crown prince, because I love him and Yeo-rin together so much. I don’t think there’s a chance he and Wol-joo will end up together no matter who he ends up being (if anyone), because he’s got his own life to live and she will almost certainly return to the Afterlife in one way or another when this is all over. But I don’t want him pining for her, because he deserves to live his own life and he really does belong with Yeo-rin. I do like the theory that Kang-bae and Yeo-rin are one soul split into two, which would make a lot of sense considering that their abilities cancel each other out. But whatever soul it is, I don’t want it to be something that leaves Kang-bae conflicted.
Right now, though, my main worry is Won-hyung. We know so little about him, but he’s turning out to be a huge threat. We know he was a nobleman when Wol-joo and the crown prince were alive, and that the prince considered him his most trusted friend. But Won-hyung seemed to have a grudge even way back then, and it’s possible he even killed Wol-joo’s mother for some reason (his goal may have been to kill Wol-joo herself). We don’t know yet why he hates the crown prince so much that he’s willing to follow him for five hundred years to get revenge, though the usual drama tropes come to mind — he was in love with Wol-joo, or maybe he was an illegitimate half-brother who had designs on the throne. But nothing seems serious enough to justify everything he’s doing, and now Chief Yeom appears to know something about Won-hyung, so I’m getting more and more concerned. I’m so anxious to find out more answers!
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