Sell Your Haunted House: Episode 13
Our exorcist finally reaches her limit and decides to pack it all in, but a mother’s desperate plea for help tests her resolve. Meanwhile, our medium learns that sometimes the best thing you can do to help someone you care about is give them space, and trust them to return to you in the end.
EPISODE 13 RECAP
20 years ago, Sung-shik burst into Daebak Realty and begged Mi-jin to help In-bum, who was possessed by an egg ghost. After making Ji-ah promise to stay upstairs, Mi-jin called Hwa-jung to let her know that she planned to kill the egg ghost’s host and then turn herself in to the police, so Hwa-jung would have to look after Ji-ah.
Sung-shik overheard Mi-jin’s plan and refused to let her harm In-bum, and they got into a physical altercation during which Mi-jin’s necklace was torn off. Sensing a stronger host had appeared, the egg ghost moved from In-bum to Mi-jin and proceeded to choke Sung-shik, but discarded him when Ji-ah interrupted.
Mi-jin fought to keep the egg ghost from going after her daughter, while Ji-ah backed away until she was leaning against In-bum, whose touch presumably gave her spiritual power a boost. Ji-ah grabbed the spirit awl from the floor and when the egg ghost attacked her she stabbed the awl into Mi-jin’s heart as she’d been taught, not realising that this time it wouldn’t become intangible.
Both Ji-ah and In-bum’s eyes glowed as the egg ghost was exorcised, but Mi-jin was fatally wounded in the process. Hwa-jung arrived just in time to see her sister slump to the ground dead with the awl buried in her chest, Ji-ah kneeling next to her with her hands covered in blood. Ji-ah fainted from the shock then, and in the present day she does the same, passing out in In-bum’s arms after telling him that she killed her mom.
In-bum sits by Ji-ah’s hospital bed holding her hand, but reluctantly leaves the room when Hwa-jung tells him that visiting hours are over. She explains to In-bum that she suspects Ji-ah is in this state because she intentionally caused her mother’s ghost to possess her multiple times while searching for her lost memories of that night 20 years ago, willing to die to find the truth at last. In-bum waits outside Ji-ah’s room and watches over her, rather than go home.
Before speaking to In-bum, Tae-jin had already told Director Do that he had found the lost contract and the director is now intent on tracking him down. Tae-jin is hiding out at a friend’s office when he coincidentally runs into Yang Chang-hwa, the restaurant owners’ missing son, and Tae-jin gives him his mom’s number and tells him to call her. Director Do’s thugs turn up looking for him, but Tae-jin manages to make a quick getaway out of a window and into a cab.
In-bum is overjoyed when Ji-ah wakes up but she doesn’t seem as happy to see him, barely responding to his questions and pulling her hand out of his. She orders him out of the room when Hwa-jung arrives, and tells her that she knows now what happened in the past, although Hwa-jung still tries to suggest that Ji-ah’s memories might be flawed.
Ji-ah cuts across Hwa-jung and tells her that she knows that she’s has been lying to her to cover up the fact that Ji-ah killed Mi-jin. Furious, Ji-ah accuses Hwa-jung of controlling her for 20 years, and asks how she could be so arrogant as to believe that she knew what was best for Ji-ah.
She tells Hwa-jung that she doesn’t want to see her face or hear her voice again, and shouts at her to get out. In-bum watches Hwa-jung leave looking shocked and realises that something strange is going on, not liking the way that Ji-ah looked at him when she woke up. He goes to eat with Ji-chul, and when he returns he finds Ji-ah gone.
Ji-ah has gone to see Team Leader Jung, who admits that he’s had Mi-jin’s case files all along and hands them over. The damning verdict is written there in black and white: “the deceased Hong Mi-jin was stabbed to death by her daughter with a sharp hair pin,” alongside crime scene photos of Mi-jin’s dead body lying in a pool of blood.
Back in her apartment, Ji-ah looks dazed and lost as she stares at the remnants of the exorcism still left on the floor. Still speaking to Mi-jin even though her ghost is no longer there, Ji-ah remarks that it’s no wonder a mother killed by her daughter became a vengeful ghost. She decides that the only thing left for her to do is disappear, and by the time In-bum gets there she’s already left.
Worried about Ji-ah, In-bum turns to Hwa-jung for answers. He thinks that Ji-ah’s acting coldly towards him because she found out that he killed Mi-jin, but Hwa-jung explains that it was actually the other way around, with Mi-jin intending to kill In-bum to exorcise the egg ghost.
After the incident, Hwa-jung had gone to the hospital to confront Sung-shik, telling him that he needed to hand himself in and atone for all the deaths he’d caused, including Mi-jin’s. She’d also given In-bum the necklace that would protect him from possession, knowing that he wasn’t to blame for what had happened.
Hwa-jung tells In-bum that she did what she thought was best for both him and Ji-ah. Ji-ah had repressed her own memories of what had happened and Hwa-jung couldn’t bring herself to reveal the truth when she knew it would devastate her.
In-bum thanks Hwa-jung for giving him the necklace that enabled him to live a normal life, but tells her that Ji-ah once told him that Hwa-jung was the only person in the world she trusted, and she betrayed that trust by deceiving her.
Ji-ah arrives at Blue Salt, deep in a bamboo forest, where CEO Yeom toils in a workshop creating the tools of the exorcist’s trade. After grumpily waving off Ji-ah’s attempts to help, CEO Yeom asks her about the new good-looking, spiritually-gifted medium that she heard about from Hwa-jung but Ji-ah tells her that he’s quit already and she’s decided to give up on being an exorcist anyway.
CEO Yeom doesn’t seem to take this declaration very seriously — suggesting that this is not the first time Ji-ah’s threatened to quit — until Ji-ah tells her that she’s sold Daebak Realty. Ji-ah intends to travel but CEO Yeom is dubious, knowing how much of a recluse she is. She doesn’t think that Ji-ah will be able to ignore the plight of the poor spirits trapped here for long, observing that Ji-ah’s more like her mother than she realises.
Team Leader Jung tries to console Hwa-jung over drinks, pointing out that Ji-ah’s an adult now and can handle things herself. He’s invited Detective Kang to join them, and Kang asks Hwa-jung to provide him with the original recording of the phone call between Director Do and President Hwang that they released to the press during the Green Villas case to prove their collusion. Hwa-jung asks why she should trust him, and he replies that sometimes you need to believe in things that you can’t see.
The next day Hwa-jung gives In-bum Blue Salt’s address, telling him that he’ll probably find Ji-ah there. CEO Yeom guesses he’s the Daebak Realty medium come looking for Ji-ah, and sends him into the bamboo forest after her.
Ji-ah isn’t pleased to see In-bum but he insists on speaking to her, explaining that Hwa-jung filled him in on everything. Both Sung-shik and Mi-jin acted wrongly, so In-bum says that he and Ji-ah should stop being sorry to each other for what their mother and uncle did and move on. He and Ji-ah are both alive and that’s what’s important.
Ji-ah says that that’s actually the problem. In-bum is alive because she killed her mother, and now she can’t look at him without being reminded of that.
Ji-ah is holed up in her room when CEO Yeom goes home that evening, and doesn’t respond when she says goodbye. CEO Yeom passes In-bum as she leaves and tells him the secret to not becoming a vengeful ghost: always express the emotions in your heart and die with no regrets.
In-bum sits outside Ji-ah’s door and expresses his gratitude to her for saving him 20 years ago. He thanks her for being the first person to call him special, and to tell him he was a good person, and instructs Ji-ah to eat what she wants and buy what she wants and treat herself well, before leaving.
CEO Yeom joins Ji-ah on a walk the next day and chastises her for not responding to In-bum. Ji-ah says that she’s not an exorcist anymore so there’s no reason for her to talk to a medium, and CEO Yeom tells her off for pushing the people who care about her away. Eventually she’ll have no one left, and then there will be no difference between her and the ghosts.
Ji-chul tracks down Tae-jin’s contact using the information about Chang-hwa that he’d left behind, and plants a camera in the hallway outside his office. Sure enough, it’s not long before Tae-jin’s lackey shows up and Ji-chul attempts to tail him back to his boss.
Ji-chul quickly gets caught, but makes a very generous offer to buy the contract and the underling agrees to take it to Tae-jin. Back at the restaurant, Ji-chul stares sadly at his bank books and laments not being able to buy his mother a house, but reminds himself that In-bum needs his help and resolves to earn even more money soon.
In-bum returns without Ji-ah, and morosely tells Ji-chul that the only thing he can do for her right now is stay away so he doesn’t bring back painful memories. He curses his uncle for causing the whole disaster, but Ji-chul tells him to direct his anger towards Director Do, the real culprit.
Now that Daebak Realty has fallen, Director Do sends his thugs into the neighbourhood to threaten and coerce the remaining holdouts into signing over their properties. Chang-hwa’s dad suggests that they might need to accept that their son isn’t going to come back and sell up, but his mom refuses to give up on him.
That night the lights go out while the restaurant owner is working alone, and she looks up to see a figure stagger in out of the rain, dragging one leg. She realises it’s her missing son, Chang-hwa, and peppers him with questions about where he’s been and why he didn’t come back sooner, none of which he answers.
Overcome with emotion, she asks if he’s even eaten and goes to make him food when he shakes his head. Just then the phone rings — it’s the police, calling to inform her that her son has died, and she realises that she’s been speaking to a ghost.
Ji-ah visits the funeral hall to pay her respects, having heard about Chang-hwa’s death via CEO Yeom and Hwa-jung, and In-bum sadly decides to excuse himself so as not to make her uncomfortable. While lighting incense, Ji-ah is shocked to see Chang-hwa’s ghost standing over his grieving mother.
Hwa-jung is waiting by Ji-ah’s car to apologise, insisting that she was trying to do what was best for her but admitting that she may have gone too far. Hwa-jung says that she doesn’t expect Ji-ah’s forgiveness, but wants her to know that what happened to her mother wasn’t her fault and she shouldn’t feel guilty for it. She leaves having said her piece, and Ji-ah silently watches her walk away.
Ji-ah returns to Daebak Realty to pack up all her belongings and sees Chang-hwa’s ghost again, but turns away from him. The restaurant owner is crying, thinking about the last time she saw her son alive, when his spirit appears to her again, and she decides to seek Ji-ah’s help.
Unable to refuse her plea, Ji-ah prepares to perform one last exorcism and calls In-bum in to assist, insisting that she only contacted him because it would take too long to find another medium and prolong Chang-hwa’s suffering unnecessarily. In-bum thanks Ji-ah for calling him and pitches in to help her prepare, eyes widening when he sees the empty kitchen and realises that she’s preparing to move out.
Ji-ah and In-bum draw a salt barrier on the restaurant floor and sit Chang-hwa’s mother in the centre of it, warning her to close eyes and not open them again until the exorcism is over and Chang-hwa’s spirit is gone.
In-bum removes his necklace and the ghost is pulled into his body, but something goes wrong and he struggles painfully with the possession, clutching his chest. Chang-hwa’s spirit is ejected and disappears, leaving In-bum gasping on the floor, and Ji-ah is reminded of what happened when she tried to use In-bum to exorcise Mi-jin and it failed, half-killing him in the process.
Chang-hwa’s ghost returns to his mother’s side as she mumbles to herself that her son’s death was her fault, and Ji-ah is stunned to realise that the spirit isn’t refusing to leave, but is being held back by his mother’s inability to let him go.
I was right about Ji-ah stabbing Mi-jin! My speculation throughout this drama has been pretty wildly incorrect, so I’m inordinately pleased to have guessed something right for once. It’s such a cruelly ironic twist too — Ji-ah always blamed her inaction for Mi-jin’s death, but the opposite turned out to be true. Imagine spending 20 years regretting not doing something, and having that moment of hesitation color all your decisions throughout your adult life, and then discovering that actually you did take that action after all. We’ve seen Ji-ah, during moments of indecision, think about not picking up the spirit awl that day and then push herself to act boldly and decisively, facing hard choices head-on. It’s no wonder that she feels as though the ground has been ripped out from under her feet when she learns that that was all a lie.
Hwa-jung claims that she believed she was acting in Ji-ah’s best interests and I think that’s true, although Ji-ah hits the nail on the head when she accuses her of being incredibly arrogant and condescending. I can understand why Hwa-jung chose not to tell a traumatised 12 year old girl that she had killed her mother, but there’s really no excuse for perpetuating that deception once Ji-ah became an adult. The lie hurt Ji-ah just as much as the truth would have, and Hwa-jung just watched and did nothing as her niece became increasingly obsessed with her mother’s death. It tore Ji-ah apart until she reached the point where she was willing to die to find the answers that Hwa-jung could have given her at any time.
Hwa-jung was overprotective and infantilised Ji-ah by hiding that knowledge from her, believing that she was a better judge of Ji-ah’s best interests than Ji-ah herself. This contrasts really well with the dynamic between In-bum and Ji-ah, who have always been open with one another and trusted each other to make their own decisions, even when those choices inevitably lead to pain and heartbreak. Hwa-jung may love and care about Ji-ah, but her actions have shown that she doesn’t really respect her or trust her judgment.
This was a slow, sad episode. I’m not sure that I enjoyed it exactly, but I do think that it was a necessary lull to allow Ji-ah to process what she learned about Mi-jin’s death before we head into the last few episodes. It was a good idea to let Ji-ah get some distance from Daebak Realty, both physical and metaphorical, and Blue Salt and the bamboo forest felt like a breath of fresh air, although there’s a little bit of irony in giving up exorcism and then seeking refuge at a retreat that manufactures exorcist tools. In-bum proved he understood Ji-ah deeply yet again, telling her to take as much time as she needed and be kind to herself. He’s always very good at knowing what Ji-ah needs, whether it’s a push to do the right thing or some space to figure things out.
CEO Yeom was almost too wise and helpful to be real, but I did like her advice for not becoming a vengeful ghost: live a life with no regrets, a simple but powerful philosophy that’s much easier said than done. Ji-ah’s life seems to have been filled with regret, at first for not stabbing Mi-jin, then for stabbing her, and now it looks like Ji-ah herself was responsible for keeping her mother’s spirit trapped here so I’m sure we’ll have plenty more angst and self-blame about that next episode. I’m looking forward to finding out the significance of Ji-ah and In-bum’s eyes glowing during Mi-jin’s exorcism too — did it form some kind of bond between them that explains why In-bum is such a special medium?
In-bum’s goodbye to Ji-ah from outside her door was lovely and very touching. He told her he was grateful for what she’d done for him and the impact she’d had on his life and on him as a person — it was a little bit heart-breaking when he thanked her for being the first and only one to ever tell him he was a good person, and it’s evident that that’s something he’ll carry in his heart for the rest of his life, regardless of whatever happens between him and Ji-ah. I’m beginning to wonder whether or not these two are actually going to get together. We’ve had plenty of hints, and it’s clear they both like each other — the way In-bum’s smile dropped off his face when Ji-ah told him she couldn’t look at him! — but something always seems to take precedence over their developing relationship, whether it’s Director Do’s machinations or the past coming back to haunt them. In-bum and Ji-ah have phenomenal chemistry and I’ve loved watching them slowly grow to trust and care for one another over the course of this drama. I’m hoping for romance between them, but with so many loose ends that still need tying up and only 3 episodes left to do it in, we’re fast running out of time to accomplish that convincingly, and personally I would rather their relationship be left platonic than rushed.