Mystic Pop-up Bar: Episode 8
It takes so little to clear up a misunderstanding – just talk it out, and everything will be fine. But when emotions get involved, sometimes it’s easier to listen to your pride than to confront the other person and risk getting hurt even further. Our pojangmacha trio’s most recent case is all about communication, and how letting a misunderstanding fester can cause so much more damage than just being willing to listen.
EPISODE 8 RECAP
Kang-bae and Wol-joo act out a “Romeo and Juliet” scene onstage, declaring their undying love for one another. Their fathers (Manager Gwi as Montague and Chief Yeom as Capulet) forbid them to be together and end up clashing swords. Romeo and Juliet declare that they are fools for love, then the lights go out.
At Mystic Pop-up Bar, Wol-joo cheerfully invites Manager Gwi to stop playing games on his phone before she smashes it. He says he’s reading a popular web novel called Juliet’s Temptation, and Wol-joo teases him because it’s X-rated, hee. Manager Gwi insists that it’s quite philosophical and that in order to understand the layers of love, the characters have to be adults… suuuure.
Chief Yeom pushes a very loopy-looking Kang-bae into the tent, asking what on earth Wol-joo and Manager Gwi have done to the kid. Manager Gwi says he’s been like that since the dance contest, and he recognizes Kang-bae’s goofy expression as the same face he made when they had him kiss a girl in a dream. PFFT.
HAHA, they all tease poor Kang-bae until he admits that Yeo-rin kissed him. Manager Gwi and Chief Yeom are sure it was a hot-and-heavy kiss, and they’re disappointed when Kang-bae says it was just a peck. Wol-joo tells Kang-bae that he has plenty of time for that and wishes him luck.
The next time Kang-bae runs into Yeo-rin at work, she’s a giant ball of anxiety over the kiss. She stops him from mentioning it, and when he asks her to have lunch with him, she makes an excuse and gets away as fast as she can.
The landlord of a building near Kang-bae’s rooftop room tells him about an apartment that’s recently come available for cheap. It’s a beautiful place, but Kang-bae hears a voice ordering someone to get out or she’ll kill them. He gets a weird chill and quickly leaves, and on his way out, he finds some mail on the floor addressed to “Ice Witch.”
Back onstage, Romeo (Kang-bae) tells Juliet (Wol-joo) excitedly that he got a job so they can be together. She’s not thrilled that he plans to renounce his family and become a deliveryman, so she tells him he should take over his father’s business, knowing it’s worth a fortune.
In the next scene, Juliet sits with Montague (Manager Gwi). He’s heard that her father’s business failed and he gives her an envelope of money to leave Romeo alone. She refuses, on the grounds that she’s deeply in love… with him. LOL.
Wol-joo ends up engrossed in the webtoon, and she sighs that she should have been more like Juliet, knowing at a young age that love isn’t enough. Chief Yeom comes in with Kang-bae and tells Manager Gwi that he’s still chasing that evil spirit, and he warns them to be careful since it’s lingering nearby.
Kang-bae gets caught on a work break grinning at photos of himself and Yeo-rin dancing together. He tells Jin-dong and Manager Ma that ever since the contest, he feels like his and Yeo-rin’s timing is off, so Manager Ma says he needs to upgrade from a coworker to someone Yeo-rin flirts with. Jin-dong suggests they use the prize money for a work dinner, and Kang-bae can get to know Yeo-rin better.
At dinner, Jin-dong and Manager Ma work as Kang-bae’s wingmen, but Yeo-rin is conflicted. Kang-bae is treating her well, but she’s trying to avoid him. She tells herself that she’s not the slightest bit attracted to his graceful hands or his “Fennec fox” face (lies!), and she decides to just be clear with him.
Back at the table, Yeo-rin tries to turn Kang-bae off by eating huge mouthfuls of food and slamming big glasses of soju. But he’s just impressed by her enthusiasm and moons over her even more. Yeo-rin gets so drunk she decides to go home instead of joining the group for round two, and Kang-bae, Jin-dong, and Manager Ma insists that Kang-bae walk her home, to her annoyance.
She figures it’s time to be honest and tells Kang-bae that she doesn’t have feelings for him, and awww, he looks so disappointed. Yeo-rin explains that she got excited during the dance contest and misinterpreted her feelings. Kang-bae asks if they can just get to know each other (OMG the hitch in his voice kills me), but Yeo-rin says he’ll only like her less the more he knows her.
Romeo is devastated when Juliet breaks the news that she’s going to marry his father. Then Montague tells him that he has cancer and only has three months to live (lol, this is great), and that he wants a passionate love before he dies.
Capulet comes in, very happy about this new development in Juliet’s love life. Romeo begs Juliet to tell him what happened to their love, calling her, “My burning heart, my true love!” But Juliet calls him a brat for speaking that way to his mother, hee.
Manager Gwi is caught up in this twist in the webtoon, but Wol-joo thinks that Romeo is acting like a whiny baby and that the writer knows a lot about love. She says that Romeo should have talked to his parents first and gotten their permission, and Manager Gwi goes very still and asks if the man Wol-joo loved was like that.
Wol-joo says he didn’t care about reality and only cared about his feelings, and that countless people suffered because of him. Manager Gwi asks if she resents him, and Wol-joo grumbles that he told her to trust him, but that eventually she cursed and resented him.
She asks about the final episode of the webtoon, so Manager Gwi looks it up. To his horror, there’s an announcement that the webtoon is canceled because the writer, Ice Witch, has passed away.
Kang-bae comes in and orders a soju, intent on having a good sulk. He tells Manager Gwi and Wol-joo that Yeo-rin rejected him before he even confessed, and they stand up for him, blaming Yeo-rin for giving Kang-bae mixed signals. The guy at the next table butts in, saying that Kang-bae is too pale for a man and is destined to die single. Gee, thanks dude. Kang-bae snaps at him so he leaves, and Kang-bae belatedly realizes that Wol-joo and Manager Gwi are both staring at him.
They inform him that that guy was a spirit, so Kang-bae shouldn’t have been able to see or hear him. Manager Gwi guesses that Kang-bae’s visits to the Dream World have widened his spiritual vision. Kang-bae asks if it will get worse like the originally warned him, but Wol-joo reminds him that she only has to settle four more grudges, then she can close his spiritual vision for good.
The next day, Kang-bae calls in sick to the store and goes to Mystic Pop-up Bar instead, to avoid seeing Yeo-rin and because he’s scared he’ll see more spirits. Manager Gwi advises him to pretend he doesn’t see the spirits, and he has Kang-bae close his eyes.
When he opens them again, Manager Gwi is gone and there’s a hollow-eyed ghost under Kang-bae’s chair. Eek! He completely freaks out, and Manager Gwi gives him the Disappointed Dad face. But he offers Kang-bae one of his “treasures,” sunglasses that will stop him from seeing the spirits.
Wol-joo comes in with a giant bag of pure salt for Kang-bae to carry around and sprinkle on spirits to scare them off. Manager Gwi tells her about the sunglasses, but Wol-joo says that Kang-bae is such a softy that he’ll still listen to the spirits’ sob stories. Manager Gwi asks if yesterday was the first time Kang-bae saw a spirit, so he tells them about hearing that voice in the empty apartment and how the name on the mail was “Ice Witch.”
Wol-joo and Manager Gwi recognize that as the pen name of Juliet’s Temptations’ writer. They get excited about the possibility of seeing the final chapter and they head to the apartment, where the landlord has a shaman cleansing the place. This time, even Kang-bae can see the spirit of a young woman huddled in the bedroom.
They pretend that Wol-joo is also a shaman, and the landlady kicks out the fake shaman when Wol-joo confirms that the former tenant was a young woman who died of heart failure. They sit down to talk to Ice Witch, whose real name was BO-RA (cameo by Han So-eun), and she stubbornly refuses to leave the apartment.
Manager Gwi tells her that’s not why they’re there, and asks if they can read the final chapter of her webtoon. HAHA, they phrase it like they have a sacred duty to make sure her completed work is given to the public.
Bo-ra hears the voice of a deliveryman in the hall, but she wilts when she sees that he’s delivering to a neighbor. Wol-joo asks the landlady about any packages, and soon the trio find themselves opening a whole mountain of boxes. It’s all random, cheap items that can be bought in a store, so they ask Bo-ra why she ordered all that stuff.
Kang-bae tells her that they specialize in settling grudges, which seems to interest Bo-ra, so she tells them her story. She’d been Ice Witch, writer of X-rated webtoons, and she’d worked from home full-time because of a heart condition. She hadn’t had many friends, but she was happy because her work made passionate love possible.
Then one day a young, handsome man made a delivery to her apartment and hurt his back, so she’d gotten him a pain patch. His name was DO-YOUNG (cameo by Shin Hyun-soo), and Bo-ra had developed a crush on him. They became friends, and Bo-ra had fibbed about her writing out of embarrassment.
One day, Do-young had come over to pick Bo-ra up for dinner, planning to confess that he had feelings for her. He had slipped inside because her apartment door was open, and he’d overheard Bo-ra on the phone with a friend.
She’d been talking about her Romeo character, saying that he was a deliveryman who was being used and was getting clingy and annoying. But to Do-young, it had sounded like Bo-ra was talking about him, so he left without seeing her. Bo-ra tells the trio that she was never able to reach Do-young after that.
Manager Gwi says she should have been honest, but Bo-ra was afraid that Do-young wouldn’t have liked her if he knew she wrote X-rated webtoons. Kang-bae says (as if he knows from personal experience) that when you like someone, everything about them is awesome.
Bo-ra admits that she doesn’t really know much about love because Do-young was the first man she ever liked, and that she wants him to know the truth. She wants him to read her webtoon because the last chapter will explain everything, and she asks for help.
The next time Do-young makes a delivery, Mystic Pop-up Bar sets up and blocks his truck. He goes inside to ask them to move, and he’s disturbed when Wol-joo addresses him by name and says she’s a friend of Bo-ra’s. Wol-joo shows him Bo-ra’s webtoon, promising to move the pojangmacha after he’s read it.
But Do-young refuses angrily, saying that he’ll just come back tomorrow for his truck. Kang-bae asks him to at least stay to eat, and when his stomach growls, Do-young can’t deny that he’s hungry. He stays, and Manager Gwi gives him ssanggapju-laced milk which sends him right to sleep.
He finds himself in a theater watching Kang-bae and Wol-joo perform Juliet’s Temptations. When they get to the final scene, Juliet stops Romeo just as he’s about to drink poison. She tells him that her father cooked up the scheme for her to marry Montague and take his company, but that she’s loved Romeo all along.
Do-young recognizes himself and Bo-ra as Romeo and Juliet, kept apart by a shameful secret. He learns that Bo-ra’s spirit is still in her apartment, and he decides to see her one last time. She apologizes for not being honest with him out of embarrassment, but he says he liked her story, especially since it helped him see how she really feels.
He gives Bo-ra the hairpin he bought to give to her when he confessed. He asks her to forgive him for thinking she was a bad person and refusing to talk to her, and she says she doesn’t want him to continue to feel bad over a misunderstanding. Through Wol-joo, Bo-ra tells Do-young that he was loved, and that he gave her happy memories.
Bo-ra puts the pin in her hair and thanks Wol-joo for helping her, wishing she’d had a friend who listened to her like Wol-joo does. With one last smile at Do-young, she fades away.
Wol-joo thinks of her prince, Yi Heon, who had woken one night and told her that he heard her comforting the vengeful spirits in his dreams. He’d said he wanted to see her face, and when she’d started to leave, he’d grabbed her hand and asked her to stay. Wol-joo had gotten the cutest nervous hiccups, making Yi Heon smile.
They had spent time together every night after that, just enjoying each other’s company. One night, Yi Heon had framed the moon with his fingers and said that Wol-joo was like the moon, shining brightly and fitting within his fingers, but unable to go home with him.
Won-hyung had joined them, joking that the moon and Wol-joo are also only seen at night. He’d teased Yi Heon, saying that he’s losing sleep because the prince loves the moon so much, and making him insecure that Won-hyung and Wol-joo talk about him every night while Won-hyung takes Wol-joo home safely.
Eventually, the queen had found out about their relationship and ordered Wol-joo to stay away, but the prince had gone to Wol-joo’s home instead. Wol-joo was worried what might happen if someone found out, but Yi Heon had said that he had to protect the whole country in the future, so he could easily protect the woman he loved.
On the night that Wol-joo found her mother murdered, she had seen Won-hyung as she was shuffling, dazed, through the city. She had run to him and grabbed his hand, hoping for his help, and realized he was covered in blood. He’d said he got into a fight with an assassin outside her house, but he was too late.
Wol-joo had begged him to take her to the prince, but Won-hyung had told her that she couldn’t see Yi Heon again. He’d broken the news that the queen had chosen a wife for Yi Heon, and that the prince had been planning to tell her that night.
Wol-joo only has three more cases to meet her quota, but she doesn’t celebrate with Manager Gwi and Kang-bae. Kang-bae asks if she’s proud after helping Bo-ra, but Wol-joo says that she’s realized that people can live as long as they have one person who listens to them.
She says, “But I had nobody. They whole world turned away from me. They never listened to me and only criticized me. One of the two people I trusted the most died, and the other betrayed me. And here I am listening to others even after I died, and being thanked for it.”
She scoffs that it’s ridiculous, but Kang-bae says that he’s proud of her. He says he’s always hated his ability and thought he was cursed because he could never help people, but that Wol-joo actually does help people. He tells her that he’s proud of her every time the number on her screen goes up, and that whenever she needs someone to talk to, he’ll listen to her.
Manager Gwi chimes in that he will, too, and Wol-joo fake-complains that they ruined her sentimental mood. The guys leave so that Wol-joo can drink alone, Kang-bae making sure to take the salt Wol-joo got him and Manager Gwi offering to walk him home in case he sees another spirit.
As they walk, they’re too busy talking about Kang-bae’s love life (or lack thereof) to notice that they’re being watched by Won-hyung. He’s about to approach them when Chief Yeom grabs him, and Won-hyung whirls angrily. But when he sees Chief Yeom, his eyes go wide, and he gasps incredulously, “Father?”
Manager Gwi drops off Kang-bae, and back at Mystic Pop-up Bar, Wol-joo steps outside to look up at the moon. She says thoughtfully, “Hey moon, it must be hard for you, too. I’m sure so many people must have made wishes upon you, but you know what? I’m just like you. Just like you keep waxing and waning, I keep changing my mind between hating him and longing for him.”
While she talks to the moon, both Manager Gwi and Kang-bae look up at that same moon and frame it with their fingers. Wol-joo continues, crying now: “Maybe I should give up to finally be free. But that’s not so easy. Love, hatred, longing, each relationship I form eventually adds to my karma and hits me back. So let me make a wish upon you. Please set me free from this misery before I become attached again, okay?”
Again with Won-hyung and the mysteries! Obviously the big one is him being Chief Yeom’s son, though I wonder if that’s meant literally, and if so, does that mean that Chief Yeom was also alive back when everything went down? It was sweet and also confusing to see that at one point, Won-hyung and Wol-joo were friends through Crown Prince Yi Heon, because that tells me that whatever Won-hyung is bitter about, it’s not strictly about Wol-joo. I don’t feel that he’s jealous or that he loved Wol-joo himself. I think that the queen probably ordered him to kill Wol-joo and he ended up killing her mother, but that doesn’t explain five hundred years of stalking the prince through the Afterlife. Something happened to make Won-hyung go bad, and I need to know what it was!
I’ve said it before, but my very favorite part of Mystic Pop-up Bar is the little family unit that our pojangmacha trio are becoming. Kang-bae brings all of his problems to Wol-joo and Manager Gwi, and they’re like the parents he’s never had, guiding him with his real-life and spiritual issues. You can tell they genuinely love each other, especially the way they do things for each other without even being asked, like Wol-joo staying out all night to bring special salt for Kang-bae, and Manager Gwi congratulating Kang-bae for every little accomplishment. It’s going to be so sad when Wol-joo finished her quota and she and Manager Gwi have to go back to the Afterlife for good.
I really loved this episode’s problem, with the webtoon writer who died and the boy who loved her. It’s so sad that they couldn’t be together, and their story so closely mirrored that of Wol-joo and her prince, and it all felt so bittersweet. The webtoonist’s story was a good lesson to just talk to someone when you think there’s a problem, rather than letting it fester until it’s too late, which is what I think happened with Wol-joo and the prince. Wol-joo believed that Yi Heon was planning to dump her and marry someone else because she didn’t try harder to talk directly to him, while he, I’m sure, was planning to protect her like he said. Wol-joo still carrying around a lot of resentment towards Yi Heon even after several hundred years, and I can’t help but wonder exactly why, and whether it’s all just another big misunderstanding.
I’m starting to see why Queen Yeomra gave Wol-joo this assignment in the first place — to atone for the hundred thousand people who died because she hung herself from the Sacred Tree, but also because Wol-joo herself had lost her sense of humanity. She was so full of hate when she killed herself, and her Afterlife punishment wasn’t making her reassess her attitude, so something more drastic had to be done. Wol-joo claims to still hate people, and she’s definitely rough around the edges, but she’s slowly but surely finding her way back to the part of her that used to love to use her dreamwalking ability to help people. There’s still a lot we don’t know about Wol-joo’s last days of life, and about whatever was written on the scroll that made her agree to this punishment, but I hope that in the end it will work, and Wol-joo will end up healing herself as well.
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