Sell Your Haunted House: Episode 6
There’s a little bit of friction between our leads this episode, but our exorcist gets the push she needs to start coming out of her shell and together they try to get justice for another spirit.
EPISODE 6 RECAP
In-bum wakes from his possession to see Ji-ah walking down the stairs alone. Putting his necklace back on, he follows her down to the sauna, where he hears a splash. He finds Ji-ah lying submerged at the bottom of the pool in a trance and immediately jumps in to wake her up.
Ji-ah sits shivering in the sauna as In-bum covers her with towels and holds her hand to warm her up. Later they park by the river and In-bum fetches them both hot drinks, Ji-ah realizing that she made the scratches on his hands.
She explains that they did exorcise one ghost but she didn’t realize that there was a second spirit, which possessed her when her guard was down and pulled her into its fantasy against her will. In-bum asks why she puts herself through all this as an exorcist, and she doesn’t reply.
Ji-ah gets home at sunrise and tells her mother about the second ghost, blaming herself for getting sloppy and skipping the preliminary survey. She explains that exorcisms have been safer for her lately because of In-bum’s special powers, so Mi-jin doesn’t need to worry about her. She thinks about mentioning the faceless boy Mi-jin, but decides against it.
When they go out to eat, Hwa-jung notices that Ji-ah’s only ordered enough food for 4 people and realizes that something’s wrong. Ji-ah tells her about her possession and the child she’s suddenly remembered Sung-shik was carrying, which they deduce was probably his nephew.
Ji-ah is troubled by the fact she’d forgotten the boy and still can’t remember his face, realizing that this means everything about her memory of that night is suspect. She wonders why it had never occurred to her to doubt it before when there are such obvious holes in the story, such as why Mi-jin attempted an exorcism without a medium and how she ended up possessed herself. Ji-ah resolves to find out what really happened, and Hwa-jung volunteers to look into it while she deals with the sauna ghost.
Ji-chul gives the team a briefing on the history of the building while In-bum gets on Ji-ah’s nerves by yawning loudly in the background — he’s been up all night gaming thanks to the aftereffects of his latest possession. Once the bakery on the roof of the building had started getting popular, the building owner had kicked the tenants out and put his daughter in charge of it instead.
The original tenants had both been women in their 30’s, like the ghost Ji-ah saw, so she decides to follow that lead. Hwa-jung tracks down one of the women, who’s now running a food truck, and finds out that her friend LEE SUNG-SHIL (Park Ye-young) is missing.
It was Sung-shil’s idea to open the rooftop bakery and although she was skeptical at first, the business quickly became a success. The neighbouring businesses Hwa-jung had spoken to had sung Sung-shil’s praises for trying to rejuvenate the area, but her friend says that they actually complained about her meddling.
The owner had eventually asked the women to leave as he was renovating the building, and they struggled to find another space they could afford to rent. One day they passed by and realized that the owner had reopened the bakery himself and was running it under the same name. When Sung-shil raised a fuss about it the rest of the businesses turned their backs on her, but she refused to be quiet and let the owner get away with it. Then a month ago she went to the building and was never seen again.
Hwa-jung goes to speak to the detective in charge of Sung-shil’s missing persons case. They both seem to recognise each other, but Hwa-jung introduces herself as though she doesn’t know him. The detective tells her that Sung-shil’s disappearance isn’t being treated as suspicious because there’s CCTV footage of her leaving the building of her own volition. He thinks that she just decided to get away for a while.
Ji-ah and In-bum head back to the sauna to investigate, Ji-ah warning In-bum to forget any memory that might come to him during possession and remain detached. Drawing salt lines, In-bum points out that Ji-ah never thanked him for saving her from drowning the other night. He launches into a diatribe about her poor manners, only to be cut off when Ji-ah does actually thank him, to his delight.
Ji-ah orders a grumbling In-bum into the pool, telling him that water is the best way to attract a water spirit. She watches carefully as the ghost appears, reaching towards In-bum, and shouts to him to remove the necklace as he’s pulled backwards into the water. She follows In-bum into the pool and pulls him out, now possessed, before plunging the awl into his heart
In-bum sees Sung-shil following the building owner’s wife, KIM SO-MIN (Kim Jung-young), around the sauna one evening demanding that they return the bakery to her. She threatened to ruin their daughter’s new business and So-min saw red, dragging Sung-shil into the pool where the two women fought. Sung-shil hit her head on a stone pool ornament and So-min strangled her until she stopped struggling and sank beneath the water’s surface.
Shaken, In-bum tells Ji-ah that Sung-shil was murdered by So-min. Ji-ah just reminds him again to forget the memories he saw and move on, and he realizes that she suspected foul play all along. In-bum is quiet on the ride home and leaves without saying anything to Ji-ah.
Hwa-jung is waiting when Ji-ah gets in, and Ji-ah confirms that ghost was a victim of murder, which she’d suspected after experiencing the spirit’s violent anger during her possession. She’s told In-bum to forget about it but she knows that’s easier said than done. Hwa-jung thinks Ji-ah’s worried about him, but Ji-ah insists that she’s just worried about what he’ll do next.
Meanwhile, Director Do is torturing Tae-jin and his thugs in an abandoned warehouse, as punishment for what happened at Green Villas. Tae-jin, just released from a sealed barrel full of water, apologises profusely and begs for another chance, but Director Do mercilessly pushes his head under the surface.
In-bum tries to convince Ji-ah that they need to do something about Sung-shil’s murder. He says he’ll report it to the police anonymously but she points out that he has no evidence, he doesn’t even know where the body is, and he can hardly tell them he heard it from a ghost. There’s nothing he can do.
In-bum points out that Ji-ah got involved in the Green Villas case because the victim reminded her of her mother, and asks if she needs a personal connection with Sung-shil to motivate her. Angry, Ji-ah tells him not to presume to know her. In-bum asks if the sale commission is all she cares about and Ji-ah replies that it is, and if he has a problem with that then he’s free to leave.
Ji-ah storms upstairs and throws herself onto the bed, where Mi-jin stares at her reproachfully. Ji-ah thinks of her younger self, dressed in pastels rather than black, trying and failing to convince a police officer that someone was murdered. Frustrated, she tells Mi-jin that she’d love to send criminals to prison if she could but she’s fed up of never being believed.
Hwa-jung is talking to a contact at the police station and is shocked to discover that In-bum was Sung-shik’s nephew. She debates whether or not to let Ji-ah know but decides against it, ripping up the documents and instead telling her that the nephew disappeared after leaving school but she’ll keep trying to track him down.
Hwa-jung says that In-bum has been nothing but trouble so far and asks Ji-ah if they should dissolve the partnership before he drags them into something worse. Ji-ah is surprised by this sudden change of heart, but says that they’re close to the end of the contract now anyway so they might as well just let it run out.
In-bum is still unhappy with Ji-ah, refusing to sit at her table in the restaurant. He’s having nightmares of being strangled by So-min and wakes terrified and tearful. Concerned about him, Ji-chul goes to Ji-ah for help but she just tells him to wait for it to wear off. In-bum has been acting strangely and talking seriously about killing the murderer in a way that’s worrying Ji-chul, but Ji-ah still refuses to get involved.
Thinking about In-bum, Ji-ah goes back to the sauna alone to visit So-min, who’s nervous and skittish. Ji-ah catches her out by referring to Sung-shil as deceased rather than missing, which So-min doesn’t contradict, and Ji-ah asks if she knows more than she’s letting on. Ji-ah leans over the counter to stare at her intently, as So-min tries desperately to avoid her gaze.
So-min refuses to enter the pool when a customer calls, and Ji-ah remarks that it’s strange that she’s too cowardly to go in there when she has the courage to share the building with Sung-shil’s vengeful ghost. So-min asks why Ji-ah is doing this to her and Ji-ah replies that she’s giving So-min a chance to confess her sins and repent before it’s too late.
For a moment, So-min stares at Ji-ah and it looks like she might break, but she recovers her composure and leaves quickly, insisting that the police have already investigated and it has nothing to do with her.
In-bum is obsessively watching the CCTV footage of Sung-shil leaving the building over and over again when he realizes that the person on-screen is limping. He deduces that it’s So-min, who injured her leg in the fight, wearing Sung-shil’s clothes, not Sung-shil herself. Ji-chul asks how they can prove it and Ji-ah, swinging open the van doors, announces that they’ll have to find the corpse.
Ji-ah doesn’t think So-min’s husband would have come to them for an exorcism if he knew Sung-shil was dead, which means that So-min would have had to dispose of her body alone. S0-min can’t drive, so there’s a very good chance that the corpse is still in the building somewhere.
Ji-chul and In-bum head over to the building to scope it out surreptitiously, and Ji-ah notices that the wall under the stairs looks like it’s been patched up recently. In-bum visits the builder who carried out the renovations, and he says that the owners had a bunch of trash sealed off in the space behind that wall to save money disposing of it.
Ji-chul plants cameras in the building and uses the holographic ghost trick to convince the owner that the PC room ghost is still hanging around. In-bum spins him a yarn about how the ghost can’t move on without finding the couple ring he lost the night he died, which has been accidentally sealed behind the wall. Ji-ah joins in and informs the building owner that he can either open up the wall and recover the ring or be haunted forever.
So-min arrives as they’re about to break open the wall and tries desperately to stop them. Arguing with her husband, she inadvertently admits that there’s more than trash behind there, and Ji-ah picks up the sledgehammer and takes matters into her own hands — only to find no corpse inside.
For a moment Ji-ah and In-bum think they were wrong, but then So-min sees a vision of Sung-shil drenched in blood and starts screaming. Presumably it’s a guilt-induced hallucination because Ji-ah can’t see a ghost, but a small hatch at the back of the newly-revealed space pops open and a hand falls out.
The police interview Ji-ah and In-bum, wanting to know how they knew where to find the corpse, but In-bum keeps insisting they were just looking for a ring. Hwa-jung arrives to pick them up and tells the police off for interrogating them when they’re not suspects. In-bum laments that he’s been to the police station more times recently than he ever did as a conman.
Hwa-jung asks Ji-ah why she got involved after insisting she wasn’t going to, and Ji-ah explains that she knows how hard it is to experience the memories and emotions of a murdered ghost and couldn’t just abandon In-bum. She knew he’d get involved whatever she said and didn’t want him to become disappointed and jaded the way she had. Hwa-jung is hurt that Ji-ah left her out of the plan and walks off, elbowing Ji-ah away when she gets too close.
Ji-ah and In-bum discuss the case when they get back to Dae-bak, Ji-ah cautioning him not to get carried away just because they got lucky this time — it won’t always work out that way. Hwa-jung walks in and observes that they’ve gotten closer, and In-bum says he doesn’t know why Ji-ah won’t admit they make a good team.
Ji-chul walks in holding a tray of baked goods that In-bum made from scratch that morning in a trance, which he doesn’t remember. Hwa-jung explains to the guys that realtors in America bake bread in houses they’re trying to sell, to put prospective buyers at ease, and Ji-ah remembers Mi-jin telling her the same thing when she was young. Ji-ah tastes the bread and decides it’s not bad, and In-bum smiles at his hands proudly.
Sung-shil’s friend shows up at the office to thank them for solving her disappearance and In-bum quickly ushers her outside, where she hands over the reward money she promised him for finding Sung-shil. He watches her drive away and turns around to find Ji-ah stood behind him, annoyed that he’s taking advantage of people for money yet again.
In an interrogation room, So-min cowers and begs for Sung-shil to forgive her while the detective watches perplexed. He still wants to know how the realtors knew where the body was, dismissing another cop who says that Daebak Realty deal with haunted properties and probably got their information from a ghost. The detective remarks to himself that it looks like Hwa-jung finally became a con-artist.
Ji-ah closes the case — the client changed his mind about selling — and files it away. She turns on the home shopping network but her mind is on In-bum, and she thinks about him persuading her to help the people left behind, questioning her motivations, and pushing her to get involved and do the right thing.
Ji-ah tells Mi-jin that doing this work has shown her the worst sides of people, their hatred and jealousy and greed, and over time she started to withdraw further and further into herself to avoid it. In-bum’s relentless determination and optimism remind her of Mi-jin’s, and she wonders how they can face all that pain and bitterness and still keep their hearts open.
In-bum gets jumped by thugs lying in wait for him when he returns from a shopping spree. He wakes to find himself tied up and suspended from the ceiling of an abandoned warehouse, surrounded by gangsters with metal pipes.
Ji-ah sits opposite him tied to a chair, and Director Do tells her that his men will beat In-bum until she signs the contract to sell Daebak Realty to him. Ji-ah throws the contract to the ground and watches impassively as the thugs go to work on In-bum.
Incredulous, Director Do asks Ji-ah if she’s just going to watch In-bum die, and she replies that the Director will be the one dying, as she watches Sung-shik’s ghost loom menacingly behind him.
Growing impatient, Director Do orders one of his men to stab In-bum, and his necklace gets ripped off during the struggle, drawing Sung-shik’s spirit into In-bum’s body. He displays supernatural strength, ripping his bonds apart and sending thugs flying easily as Ji-ah struggles to free herself.
Director Do grabs In-bum around the throat, stopping his rampage, and Sung-shik’s ghost tells him that he set a fire and killed those people, and now he wants the apartment he was promised.
So what did Sung-shik’s words to Director Do mean? Is he saying that he set a fire because he didn’t get an apartment like he was promised, or was he promised an apartment if he set the fire? I absolutely believe that Director Do is capable of making that kind of deal to get some meddling protestors out of his way, but it casts Sung-shik in a completely different light. I assumed he’d set the fire while possessed and committed suicide due to the guilt, but if the arson was purposeful then he probably didn’t kill himself — was Director Do tidying up loose ends?
It’s beginning to look as though there’s more to Hwa-jung than meets the eye too. I assume that she and Ji-ah met on a case at some point and that’s why she joined Daebak Realty, but I’m looking forward to learning more about her past. The detective clearly knew her and didn’t seem at all surprised that she’d become a con-artist (his words), and we know from her connection with the gallery’s director and the people she was speaking to at the art exhibition that she used to move in cultured, upper-class circles. A job at a small realty firm must have been a pretty major step down for her. Does Hwa-jung think she’s acting in Ji-ah’s best interests by keeping the truth about In-bum from her, or does she have an ulterior motive? And why would she make that decision unless she knows more about the past, and the ramifications that the revelation might have, than she’s letting on?
For all that Ji-ah seems taciturn and stoic, she’s actually very self-aware. She recognises that her memories are flawed and instead of going into denial immediately resolves to find the truth. Ji-ah made a conscious decision to become someone tough and cold-hearted to cope with the emotional burden of being an exorcist, and her all-black wardrobe is symbolic of that choice. She admires In-bum’s innocence and ends up involving herself in the case to protect that innocence from eroding the way her own did, slowly discovering that they really can make a difference sometimes, if not every time. Ji-ah knows that she’s withdrawn into herself as a defense mechanism and that re-engaging with the world will mean making herself vulnerable again, but watching In-bum’s passion is making her want to take that step.
Ji-ah isn’t naturally reticent, she’s actually very open and communicative with the very few people she allows inside her defences. She immediately tells both Mi-jin and Hwa-jung about her possession, and Hwa-jung clearly knows as much as Ji-ah does about her memories of the past. Ji-ah’s trust is incredibly hard to earn, but once she makes that decision she does so entirely. In-bum is slowly starting to make his way past those barriers, and when Ji-ah’s feeling vulnerable after she was possessed she allows him to take care of her, but she’s not quite ready to let him in yet. And on a less happy note, I think a betrayal from Hwa-jung would have the power to hurt Ji-ah like very little else.
We learned a little more about ghosts and possession this episode. When ghosts possess normal people they bewitch them and draw them into their own worlds. Spirits can weave fantasies which compel those people to act, but they can’t actually inhabit and control their bodies in the way that they can a medium’s. The things a person witnesses while in a trance may not be true, but the memories an exorcist (or medium) sees during an exorcism are real (unreliable narration notwithstanding). This leads to a lot of questions: If In-bum can absorb a spirit’s memories, is he actually an exorcist and not a medium? Or do exorcists have to be women in the same way that mediums have to be men? Ji-ah says exorcists are bewitched by ghosts when possessed the same way normal people are, so how was a spirit controlling Mi-jin like a medium? Is Sung-shik the first ghost we’ve seen display supernatural strength during a possession, and if so, why? Were So-min’s sudden hallucinations actually a product of her guilt or something more supernatural?
From what we’ve seen so far, I have high hopes that the writers will have some well-thought-out answers to these questions and be able to resolve the mystery in a satisfying. Having said that, I was a little disappointed that our team watched that CCTV footage and were happy to just accept it when the victim’s face wasn’t visible on-screen — these characters are supposed to be sharp! I’m not a fan of sudden plot-induced stupidity so I hope that was a one-off. I’d also like a little more variety in our murders — this is the third time that two characters have gotten into a physical altercation and one has died as a result of an accidental-on-purpose blow to the head. I wouldn’t mind something a little more premeditated.