Sell Your Haunted House: Episode 9
The repercussions of a big revelation echo through this episode, as a schism in the leads’ partnership causes our exorcist to take on a murder case alone.
EPISODE 9 RECAP
Hwa-jung steps in to interrupt the tense stand-off between Ji-ah and In-bum. Ji-ah tells In-bum she never wants to see him again and orders him to leave, and he storms out to the van and drives away. Ji-ah observes that Hwa-jung doesn’t seem surprised, and Hwa-jung pretends that she only found out herself earlier that day, faux naively wondering if In-bum was trying to scam them.
A morose Ji-ah drinks alone in her apartment. She thought she’d finally found someone who understood her and was willing to share the burden she had to bear, but now she realises that In-bum had been deceiving her all along. She feels stupid for trusting him, and guilty for growing fond of the person who killed her mother.
In-bum pours a libation on his uncle’s grave, wondering whether he really did cause Sung-shik’s death. His grandmother finds him there and takes him home for a meal, assuming that he’s in some kind of trouble. She tells him that thugs ransacked the house searching for something of his and a young woman came looking for him yesterday, which In-bum realises is how Ji-ah discovered his secret.
A young woman goes to pick up takeout at night, seeming skittish and wary of lone men. Running into her landlord in the lobby, she pleads with him to try and find a new tenant quickly so she can move out of her apartment as soon as possible, convinced it’s haunted.
As the elevator doors close behind her, the lights flicker and the ghost of a young woman appears, terrifying her. The landlord calls to her and we realise that she’s actually in a trance, standing just outside the elevator but convinced she’s trapped inside it with the ghost, and she faints.
In-bum hasn’t been in contact and Ji-chul is worried about him. Hwa-jung finds Ji-ah in the archive, where she’s been holed up for hours. She now realises that the little boy she was looking for knows even less about what happened 20 years ago than she does, so she’s resorted to obsessively searching the old exorcism records for clues, to no avail.
Hwa-jung makes Ji-ah eat and tells her she’ll find a new medium. After she leaves, Ji-ah shuts herself back in the record room as Mi-jin watches from the top of the stairs, the boundary of her domain.
Ji-chul finally meets his online girlfriend and she turns out to be the young woman from the elevator, whose name is Bae Soo-jung. Ji-chul is ecstatic and chats enthusiastically, but Soo-jung is quiet and withdrawn, eventually asking Ji-chul about the haunted real estate company he mentioned working at.
Warned by Ji-chul not to mention that he referred her, Soo-jung goes alone to Daebak Realty to ask them for help finding a new tenant for her apartment. She’s being haunted by the ghost of another tenant who was recently murdered, despite the fact that they barely knew each other.
When pressed, Soo-jung admits that she was the last person to see Lee Hyun-ju alive. She had been in the elevator with Hyun-ju shortly before her death, along with a masked man that the police suspect was the killer.
Moping around staring at the old family photos on the wall, In-bum upsets his grandmother by asking why she thinks Sung-shik committed suicide. She insists that her son would never have killed himself and gives In-bum a box of his old things to look through.
In-bum finds a copy of Sung-shik’s confession in which he explained that he acted in a moment of drunken rage, angry at the prospect of being made homeless, and demons deeply regretted what he had done. The letter convinces In-bum that his uncle did set the fire, meaning that the two of them really were responsible for Mi-jin’s death. He heads back to speak to Ji-ah, leaving his grandmother alone with the chicken she’d bought for his dinner.
Outside the restaurant, Ji-chul overhears Tae-jin on the phone cursing at his lackeys and thinks he’s gone back to his old ways, but then realises that he’s actually ordering them to track down the restaurant owner’s missing son.
Hwa-jung briefs Ji-ah, informing her that Hyun-ju was stabbed to death in an underground parking lot a month ago, shortly after reporting a suspicious man lurking around her building to the police. The suspected assailant was caught on CCTV in the elevator, but couldn’t be identified and still hasn’t been apprehended.
The footage shows that the man actually got in the elevator alone with Soo-jung, before Hyun-ju joined them. He then switched targets and grabbed Hyun-ju instead, and Hwa-jung wonders if she’s attached herself to Soo-jung because she’s bitter that she died in her place. Ji-ah goes to carry out her preliminary investigation, refusing to speak to In-bum who’s been waiting for her outside.
Detectives Kang and Choi are investigating Hyun-ju’s death and deduce that her assailant was probably a local who deliberately chose to kill her in the parking garage because he knew that the CCTV cameras there weren’t working. They canvas the area looking for witnesses, and while speaking to a restaurant owner with an injured shoulder, Detective Kang sees Ji-ah walk past and follows her.
Back at the parking garage, Ji-ah summons Hyun-ju’s ghost to verify her identity and tells her that what’s done is done, and she needs to move on even if she’s angry with Soo-jung. The ghost struggles to reply but can’t make a sound, crying tears of blood before she disappears.
Ji-ah imagines In-bum walking up to her and taking her hand, and calls Hwa-jung to ask her to get in contact with Hyung-shik, their previous medium. Stepping out from behind a pillar as she leaves, Detective Choi is convinced that they just witnessed Ji-ah speaking to a ghost but Detective Kang remains skeptical.
In-bum is still waiting outside the office when Ji-ah returns, and she relents and allows him in to say his piece. In-bum tells Ji-ah that he never really understood his uncle’s death, but when he returned to Daebak he started to remember vague details about what happened and decided that he had to find out what happened 20 years ago.
When he was young, Sung-shik was the only one who would believe In-bum when he said that he hadn’t really done the things he’d done while he was possessed, and In-bum wanted to return the favor by believing that his uncle wouldn’t have done those awful things people said he’d done. In-bum apologises to Ji-ah for causing the events that led to her mother’s death, and for deceiving her about his intentions during their partnership.
Back at the restaurant, In-bum tells Ji-chul that he’s not giving up on investigating Sung-shik’s death, but they’ll have to leave Daebak Realty and move on. He wants them to find some kind of legal occupation this time instead of going back to scamming people, but Ji-chul refuses to go until Soo-jung’s case is resolved.
An assemblyman arranges a meeting with Director Do to discuss the redevelopment, unhappy that there are still some hold-outs. He urges Director Do to tie up the loose ends before the upcoming local elections, concerned that Dohak Construction could lose their permit to redevelop the land if there was to be a change of leadership.
Hyung-shik arrives to help with the exorcism and Hwa-jung is delighted to see him, but Ji-ah slips and absent-mindedly calls him ‘In-bum’ multiple times. Detective Kang is hiding in a car watching as the pair get to the parking garage and set things up.
Hyun-ju’s ghost is in Soo-jung’s apartment when the incense summons her downstairs, and once her spirit possesses Hyung-shik she doesn’t attack Ji-ah but pounds at the barrier, trying to return to Soo-jung.
The spirit awl in Ji-ah’s hand gives Hyun-ju flashbacks to her assailant leaning over her holding a knife, and she fights back when Ji-ah attempts to stab her. Ji-ah quickly realises that she’s just scared and hides the awl behind her back, walking up to Hyun-ju slowly and calmly, and covering her eyes with one hand so she can’t see what Ji-ah’s about to do.
Suddenly Detective Kang interrupts just as Ji-ah’s about to strike and tries to restrain her, believing that she’s trying to hurt Hyung-shik. Hyun-ju seizes her chance and flees through the gap he made in the spirit barrier, pursued by Ji-ah.
Soo-jung is studying at her desk when she’s suddenly attacked by Ma Kang-tae, a local restaurant owner and the man who killed Hyun-ju. She fights back and manages to throw him off, running to the door where she finds Hyun-ju waiting in Hyung-shik’s body.
Ji-ah arrives to find Hyun-ju thrashing Kang-tae and intervenes, sending them both flying and knocking the attacker unconscious. Detective Kang runs in to find Ji-ah straddling Hyung-shik, about to plunge the awl into his chest, and aims his gun at her as he orders her to freeze. Ji-ah ignores him and stabs Hyung-shik anyway, and Detective Kang shoots.
Hyun-ju had noticed a suspicious man following Soo-jung into the elevator and felt uneasy about the way he was watching her, so decided to join them. Deliberately standing between them, Hyun-ju was about to speak to Soo-jung when the man grabbed and pushed a knife threateningly against her side, silently warning her to keep quiet. Not noticing that anything was wrong, Soo-jung got off at the next floor leaving them behind, and the man accused Hyun-ju of purposely trying to come between them.
As Hyun-ju’s spirit and the awl disappear, Detective Kang warns Ji-ah that the next time he shoots it won’t be a blank. She stands with her hands up, and Hyung-shik wakes up confused but unharmed as more police officers pour into the apartment to apprehend them all.
At the police station, Ma Kang-tae insists that was just visiting Soo-jung and did nothing wrong. When Hwa-jung arrives, Soo-jung tells the police that Kang-tae is the masked man she saw in the elevator with Hyun-ju, which he vehemently denies. Noticing Soo-jung’s distress, Hwa-jung reprimands Detective Kang for not having separated the victim and suspect, and Soo-jung is led to another room to be interviewed while Hwa-jung waits outside the door.
Kang-tae tells the police that Soo-jung had given him the key code to her apartment because they were having an affair. He was trying to break up with her that night because of his marriage, but she didn’t take it well and things got out of hand. Soo-jung listens in disbelief to his version of events, and insists that it’s all utter nonsense.
Meanwhile, Detective Kang interviews Ji-ah and Hyung-shik together and gets increasingly frustrated by their answers, convinced they’re playing with him when Hyung-shik claims that he can’t remember what happened because mediums have no memory of the time they’re possessed.
Ji-ah tells Detective Kang that Soo-jung was Kang-tae’s real target all along, which should have been obvious from the CCTV footage. He took his anger out on Hyun-ju when she ruined his plans, although she didn’t go down without a fight and managed to fracture his shoulder during the struggle.
Detective Kang dismisses this story as a product of Ji-ah’s imagination. Kang-tae may be a stalker but that doesn’t mean he’s a killer, and they’ll need actual hard evidence to arrest him for Hyun-ju’s murder. Scornful, Ji-ah hands him a picture of the murder weapon that she’s drawn on a receipt: a knife with the letter ‘M’ on the handle.
Ji-chul is waiting anxiously for Soo-jung when they get out, but she flinches away from him when he goes to touch her, shrinking into Hwa-jung. Ji-chul apologises to Ji-ah for hiding their relationship from her, explaining that he was afraid she’d refuse to help Soo-jung if she knew.
The police also release Kang-tae, as technically the only thing they can prove he did was trespass. The detectives aren’t happy about it but they don’t have enough evidence to hold him for anything else, particularly as it was a first-time offence. Ji-ah turns to leave but a frightened Soo-jung grabs her arm, silently pleading for help.
In-bum anxiously awaits Ji-chul’s return, concerned that something might have happened to Ji-ah. Ji-chul listens to him worry about whether Ji-ah was cold without him there to recharge her, and gets annoyed at his lack of interest in Soo-jung’s plight.
Ji-chul is loitering anxiously outside Daebak, torn between wanting to go in to check on Soo-jung and not wanting to bother her, when he’s joined by In-bum who’s still fretting about Ji-ah. He remembers what it was like dealing with the memories and emotions left behind by a murdered ghost and is concerned that Ji-ah might be struggling.
Just then Ji-ah suddenly runs out of the office and drives off at speed, and In-bum — worried that the ghost’s emotions may influence her into doing something drastic — gives chase. He finds Ji-ah’s car parked outside a theater which has recently had to cancel its production of Pride and Prejudice after the death of the lead actress, Lee Hyun-ju.
In-bum finds Ji-ah standing on stage in full costume, a spotlight shining on her. He gapes at her stunned and Ji-ah stares back at him in a trance, until they’re interrupted by a security guard.
As In-bum steps forward to explain, he puts a hand on Ji-ah’s shoulder and his touch snaps her out of her trance. She instinctively flips him, but recognises In-bum mid-manoeuvre and tries to stop, losing her balance and sending them both crashing to the floor.
I loved the female solidarity this episode! Hyun-ju deliberately inserted herself into the middle of that situation in the elevator because something felt off to her, putting herself in danger for a woman she barely even knew, and even in death she was protective of Soo-jung. Hyun-ju’s ghost could easily have been focused on trying to avenge her murder or bring the killer to justice, but she chose to use her energy to try and warn Soo-jung before something terrible happened to her. Her death was incredibly unjust, and I was glad Hyun-ju got the chance for a little bit of vengeance when she beat the heck out of her murderer from beyond the grave — and that she used Hyung-shik’s bigger, stronger body to do it. And for all Hwa-jung’s failings, she was a reassuring and commanding presence when she arrived at the station, caring for Soo-jung and advocating on her behalf.
Is our stalker lying to the police or actually deluded to the point that he genuinely believes he’s in a relationship with Soo-jung? I’m a little surprised the writers didn’t try to play with that angle a bit more by not showing us what happened in the apartment and just presenting us with Kang-tae and Soo-jung’s differing accounts of the incident, allowing us to try and judge which was the truth, but I guess that’s not the story they want to tell. What actually happened in the elevator wasn’t a twist, it was very obvious from the CCTV footage. Ji-ah may have noticed and not mentioned it, but I don’t think Hwa-jung or the detectives did and I expect better from them. Police incompetence in service of the plot is starting to become a recurring issue, and I can’t tell whether Kang-tae’s release is a symptom of that or whether the writers are deliberately trying to draw attention to how difficult it can be for women who are threatened or stalked by men to get the police to take action before it’s too late.
Detective Kang is starting to get on my nerves. It’s understandable that he’s skeptical of the supernatural but he’s now bordering on being deliberately obtuse, and it’ll only be a matter of time before his interference causes an actual disaster unless he actually stops and engages his brain sometime soon. I didn’t like the fake-out shooting, it felt pointless and the writers are better than that. Although Korean police officers apparently do have blanks in their guns, it feels a little useless to warn someone you’ll use a real bullet next time when they’ve already stabbed a person — and did Detective Kang not realise that the weapon had disappeared? I’m also not sure how he knew to be lying in wait for Ji-ah that night, and I’m interested to find out who tipped him off (unless it’s just a plothole).
I’m not at all sold on Ji-chul and Soo-jung’s relationship. I know she’s obviously under a lot of stress at the moment, between the ghost and the stalker, but she doesn’t seem interested in him or like she enjoys his company at all. I find it very hard to reconcile her with the woman who was texting Ji-chul constantly and sent him underwear last week. Loved Ji-chul’s white hoodie and pale pink denim jacket combo for their first date though!
I was pleasantly surprised that Hyung-shik was a competent medium who worked well with Ji-ah. Even though we technically knew that from his appearance in the first episode, I half-expected the writers to make him obviously inferior to In-bum, to emphasise how necessary In-bum is to Ji-ah. But even on a personal level, Hyung-shik obviously knows Ji-ah well enough to anticipate that she’d go for Kang-tae and restrain her at the police station and to deduce that she wanted a pen in the interview room. I actually appreciate this approach both because it’s a more realistic relationship between two people who have worked together regularly, and because it feels as though Hyung-shik is a person in his own right and not just a foil for In-bum. Plus, it shows that Ji-ah isn’t missing In-bum because she needs a competent partner, she just misses him.
In-bum’s worry for Ji-ah was very sweet — “what if she gets cold without me there?” — and I’m beginning to think that she now occupies at least 50% of his brain at all times, but I’m not sure how to interpret In-bum’s stunned reaction when he saw Ji-ah onstage. I feel like that was supposed to be the big makeover moment where the male lead suddenly realises how beautiful the female lead is, but Ji-ah always looks achingly gorgeous and if In-bum hadn’t noticed that until now then there’s no hope for him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that the wardrobe change caught him off guard and made him look at Ji-ah from a fresh perspective, or maybe it was the uncharacteristically peaceful expression on her face that caught In-bum’s attention. For a moment at the end there, I genuinely thought Ji-ah was going to dip In-bum — am I the only one a little disappointed it didn’t happen?