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Bulgasal: Immortal Souls: Episodes 5-6 Open Thread

After facing a common enemy, our hero’s blood feud has become even more complicated. His anger against our heroine remains as strong as ever, but now he must bargain with her if he’s going to get to the bottom of his cursed fate, and bring about the ending he’s long been planning for.

 
EPISODES 5-6 WEECAP

I am waaaaay too into this show, and I love the direction we took this week — with the fate and hate and tension and fear and yearning practically bursting from each scene. High drama! It was also especially great to have more of Lee Joon on screen finally. His performance this week left me slack-jawed. (Why is he so good at being a deranged villain in Rococo-esque suits and settings?)

Back to where to left off last week, though: Hwal and Sang-eon barely escape with their lives from the bulgasal encounter. After leaving the scene, and an unconscious Detective Kwon, Hwal heads back to home base, as it were, with Sang-eon. His somehow poetically dilapidated house acts as the safe house for everyone (despite it not being remotely secure, considering every few minutes someone else appears at the door).

While Sang-eon recovers, Hwal gazes at her with a glance that’s hard to decode — it looks a bit like desire, but then transforms into this rage that’s hard for him to control. This happens all throughout our episodes this week, actually. He both saves Sang-eon and almost slaughters her multiple times; he grabs her neck with murder in his eyes, and yet bandages her ankle which has been all but crushed from a monster. Theirs is an interesting story, for sure.

Much to my satisfaction, we revisit the murder of 15 years ago, and see how the whole scene played out. We’ve had so many bits and pieces of this, but this time, we get the whole thing. This includes the Lee Joon bulgasal brutally killing Sang-yeon, and even more importantly, the wisdom that she shares as she dies. The bulgasal chuckles that her soul was split in two, but that he’ll just kill both of them — however, Sang-yeon says that he won’t be able to kill her sister. She continues that “the dark hole won’t go away” and that her sister will “put everything back in its place.”

Dark hole references aside, this is making a lot more sense now. Sang-eon definitely seems to be a wild card in this centuries-long fate. Perhaps she’ll be changing the direction of that fate once and for all?

Hwal wrestles with the presence of this second bulgasal; he was always under the impression there was only one (and we get a flashback of General Dan telling him so). Even so, Hwal knows he has to figure out this bulgasal’s part in the story and kill him before he takes his own soul back and becomes mortal again.

The story doesn’t make us wait long, and I kind of like the aggressive way the Lee Joon bulgasal thrusts himself into the story. In fact, we learn he’s been around for a long time; he has hunted down all of Sang-yeon/Sang-eon’s past reincarnations and killed her. Now, he literally calls up Hwal for an opulent lunch and asks him to join forces.

Outside of the brilliant acting here from Lee Joon, this scene serves to drop a ton of important plot information, including his name (finally!): OK EUL-TAE. He first tries to convince Hwal that they’re on the same side and disrupt any belief Hwal might have in Sang-eon’s innocence. He repeats several times that they have a common enemy and that she is the true danger to them both.

But it’s also not as straightforward as it seems, because Eul-tae seems (pretends?) to be clueless about Hwal’s backstory, referencing a warrior that killed all the monsters 600 years ago, and a baby cursed from the womb — but at the same time, he seems to be verrrry pointed in his words.

Eul-tae explains that only bulgasal can destroy souls, and that they need to destroy Sang-eon’s. Eul-tae needs Hwal’s help because he has this “dark blood from a dark hole” thing that happens when he goes near her (and he blames Sang-yeon for whatever this phenomenon is). As a part of the bargain, if Hwal helps him kill Sang-eon’s soul, Eul-tae will tell Hwal the true genesis of the curse.

Complicating things even more, each of our characters has a motive that is bigger than survival. Sang-eon is willing to sacrifice hers to kill Eul-tae and keep her little sister safe. Hwal only wants to revenge himself against the bulgasal that killed his family, and take back his soul so that he can also die. And Eul-tae is seeking the destruction of Sang-eon’s soul to heal the wound he’s been ravaged by for a thousand years. It’s intense stuff, and the idea that their own death doesn’t mean anything to them only adds to that.

Finally, Hwal and Sang-eon seem to come to an agreement: Hwal will let Sang-eon live as human until he finds a way to kill Eul-tae (after this is achieved, he plans to continue his eternal dungeon plans for her). Right now, this is mutually beneficial, since both get what they want in the end, and their dangerous truce (if you can call it that) is a sight to behold. I can’t quite put my finger on how much Hwal actually believes Sang-eon’s innocence and lack of memory around the past. That creepy dream sequence he had caught me by surprise; I like our doe-eyed heroine as she is, and hope there’s not a hidden layer to her. However, at the end of our episodes, she sees that ancient painting of herself, and it does something to her.

In the middle of all this, we have more monsters attacking, Si-ho used as leverage, and the return of Detective Kwon. The latter basically forces himself into every scenario, and while he’s only got an inkling as to what is going on, I do rather like him, and how he adds another layer to our plot.

The most moving part about this show, of course, is all the echoes of past lives that our characters either remember with pain and longing (Hwal) or only feel strange echoes of familiarity (like when Detective Kwon first sees Si-ho in the present). Similarly, Si-ho senses something about Hwal, but always shrinks when he’s around, hiding behind her sister, who is taking the lead here in more ways than one.

Most of the emotion is with Hwal in these scenarios — it’s positively heartbreaking to see him greeting the man that was a beloved father in the past and that’s now after him; or, to watch him cope as his wife and his mortal enemy are living as sisters in his house. While I’m not sure how Hwal truly feels about Sang-eon, it does seem clear that he still reacts to Si-ho as he would his wife in the past: risking anything to keep her safe (which he failed at so many centuries ago).

Even better, these echoes of the past aren’t only about the characters’ relationships — they’re also tied to the action of the story, as we saw with the water monster and with the way it attacked General Dan/Detective Kwon’s arm. So good! I’m sure there’s a lot more of this headed our way, because even though we learned a lot of tactical information in this week’s episodes, there’s still a heck of a lot we don’t know.

Each character’s true identity still seems shrouded in mystery, as is the real genesis of this evil fate. And now that we know something different is going on in this final reincarnation with the twin sisters, I wonder what it means for the future. I’m not expecting a happy ending or anything — rather, I’m almost getting the feeling that where we started at the beginning of the drama wasn’t truly the beginning. Perhaps there’s more to tell there, too.

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Lee Joon...
He is so so so good and I love his outfit!

I'm into this show also.
I absolutely love the blonde boy and the butcher lady.
I found it funny Hwal was drinking blood from a big mug like coffee.

Since RS is over, hope ratings will go up a little at least.
It definitely deserves more love and recognition than NWABU...

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I have to say that I feel nothing about Sang-eon. She is like one of those female leads from the older dramas whose whole personality was to be kind and pitiful.

Yeah and Lee Joon is fantastic here. The cinematography is especially great on his scenes.

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And have big wide Bambi eyes 24/7...

I guess the story of our leads reside in that painting Eul-tae has in his home,curious if Hwal is the other "God" who mostly betrayed her in the first to maybe be human...
Most say I love the lore in this one and hope we'll see more of it and it's gruesome monsters...
We more than sure by now that Eul-tae killed his family...Curious what is his story with the original Bulgasal Goddess(gonna call her that)

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Sang-eon comes off a bit too clueless about being one the run for someone who has been on the run numerous years.

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Whoever did the wardrobe for Lee Joon deserves all the awards. It's "Gone with the Wind" curtain dress + The Picture of Dorian Gray dandy + excellent hair product to create a visual feast.

That scene in the restaurant was riveting due to the whole epic nature of their conflict, and the dialogue and acting were great, but his hair and suit are what commanded my attention.

Other thoughts: the teenage blonde boy is killing me with his longing for Hwal's approval and acceptance; Sang-eon isn't a particularly well-drawn character yet but I'm hopeful as the layers unfold her backstory alone and with Hwal will be more interesting; and I still don't really understand why Sang-eon's sister told her that "Bulgasal is the sword to kill Bulgasal." That seems very inefficient. Why not just say: "The Bulgasal in the hoodie can kill the better dressed one" or something. Why refer to one of the monsters as "the sword?" Not sure why, but this bugs me, lol.

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Lee Joon really is fantastic. He brings so much energy to his scenes, and I love his line delivery. His wardrobe is something else too lol.

I found Episode 5 kind of boring. I'm just not that interested in Hwal and Sang-eon, and I'm going to find any romance that is probably coming disturbing after all the strangling and threatening. I enjoyed Episode 6 much more with the whole gang together. I do like Hwal and Sang-eon's relationships with the other characters, particularly Si-ho.

So the painting that Ok Eul-tae was looking at appears to give clues to the backstory. We learned Bulgasal was first heard of 1000 years ago when a village was slaughtered. I'm guessing whatever happened there led to the curses on Eul-tae and Hwal.

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Yep, I have a feeling there's a huge chunk of story of "before-before" that's missing. I think we will be looking for more episodes with gorgeous backdrops of Goryeo/Joseon. I'm not complaining though. I enjoyed watching the scenes set in the past actually more than the scenes set in present.

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Interestingly, I have the same struggle with Snowdrop, the other weekend drama I'm obsessing over these days. Both series seem bogged down by the angst of it all instead of establishing believable chemistry.
I don't care how destined we are, you only have so many times to point a gun at me (in this case, strangle and stab me), and I still LIKE you. Doesn't make my heart flutter, at all.

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What's with these shows obsession with strangling and pointing a gun? They did the same thing in BOSSAM STEAL THE FATE when ML tried to kill FL because she would be a nuisance to him and his son.

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I'm still in on this show, despite many things that aren't consistent.

Yes, certain *ahem*visuals are helping, but I'm also a cryptid fan. So a show that covers those that are not the usual done to death isn't hurting either.👹

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"...rather, I’m almost getting the feeling that where we started at the beginning of the drama wasn’t truly the beginning." This is exactly my thoughts. Now that it's pretty clear that Sang-eon and Hwal are the main love-line (evident by all the sprained-ankle-mending and kenchanas and CPR kisses and neck-grabbings and the past love being conveniently pregnant), I kept wondering if they are the OG OTP, that formed way before Hwal married his wife, perhaps there was some love triangle involving monsters and humans before Hwal reincarnated as a cursed boy. It does appear like a huge chunk of the story is missing: why was Hwal-boy cursed to begin with? Why Sang-eon-bulgasal saved him as a boy? Why does Dark Hole insist he's older? Why does the dinner between the two bulgasals left more questions (at least for me) than answers, like Ok Eul-Tae is hiding something important from Hwal? Who was Eul-Tae' assistant with a neck tattoo. So many delicious questions that hopefully will be answered.

As a side note, what is up with all the neck-grabbing? I'm trying to take it seriously (i.e. he's trying to choke her from some sense of inner hate and revenge) but it comes across as if I'm watching a K-drama awkward interpretation of erotic asphyxiation. Should I laugh or clutch my pearls or fan myself? I can't decide.

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Don't think it was intentional, but Ep6 was really funny. Bit of relief because Ep5 came off a bit dull.

But they seriously treated him like a sack of rice until they got back to safe-and-unclean-house and its like, wow he's not waking up... maybe CPR?

For the CPR scene, I remain a bit confused on why he didn't seem interested in the blood on her hands despite being in a bad shape. Maybe I was thinking Bugasal was much more like a vampire than he really is. But that can also account for why blood seems to be sprayed everywhere instead of consumed.

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I can't rave about Lee Joon's performance. He just delivers the necessary in my opinion. The only complaint I have is Kwon Nara's acting, where she just doesn't emote enough - when she was supposed to be in pain when being stab, when she was supposed to be fearful for her life in Hwal's hands, all I see is her blank look.

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EP5 was boring it didn't give any real answers only good thing about it was Lee Joon. One thing is clear the Bulgasal is a dog like monster in its true form evidenced by Joon getting on all 4 legs in EP6 before the screen cut out. So it borrows from the original folklore of the Bulgae. Nara was bad these 2 episodes maybe because of the writing but the character was unbearable. There wasn't much new information this week but the far past that Joon comes from needs to be revealed. His secretary with the neck tatoo is suspicious. Is she another monster? Or immortal creature like him? The forced cohabitation arc has started but new answers need to come. We still don't know who the little girl with younger version of the detective isnor why she knew the Bulgasal. Was it Nara in her past life? Why would Joon chase her otherwise? I'm still not convinced Joon is the final big bad.

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why does a monster who could cut a hand in his bare hands froce needs a knife to kill his victim? i rolled my eyes in disbelief when he grabbed the knife from his pocket.

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It seems slightly "ritualistic" to me. The blade of his knife seemed to have some carving on it (probably some symbolic runes). So he probably needs it to take back his soul, since that's his ultimate goal, instead of simply killing her. Stabbing her would also mirror the way she took his soul all those centuries ago.

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"poetically dilapidated house..." this description totally hits the spot. Bulgasal's set design and cinematography are first rate. Can't wait to find out what happened 1000 years ago.

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I'm properly hooked to the story now. The world-building is just so good, which makes each new revelation that much more satisfying.

Like the new implication of Hwal's soul being born into the body of a twins. Suddenly that didn't feel like a freaky coincidence it seemed to be all this time, instead probably a result of some strategy Sang-yeon's previous existence concocted in order to kill Eul-tae. The separated soul seemed to be the key to split its power from the curse. Which was why Sang-yeon retained the memories of all her previous lives and the cursed shoulder scar (which marked her as the previous Bulgasal), while Sang-un got the build-in alarm for monsters and protection against the Black Hole Bulgasal while she remained as human.

It's interesting that after the bloodbath that happened very regularly throughout the drama, eventually everything came down to a battle of (mis)information. Every major player only has the tiniest morsel of information, so it's a question of who can turn that into an important leverage to get what they needed from their potential allies or enemies. Take for example the information about Bulgasal's real origin and identity. It's baffling that no one knows much beyond the folklore about it as some sort of the king of monsters, even though that understanding must be crucial to finally end the centuries old curse.

I enjoyed the current turn of event where the sisters finally got the upper hand against Hwal. The fact that they chose to work together with him (albeit very grudgingly) and being forced to understand and sympathize with him on a deeper level made for an interesting shift of tension between these people. It's also fascinating that as Hwal inched even closer to his goal of mortality, he seemed to truly live again for the first time in 600 years. No matter how mismatched the group of people that now populated his home seemingly is, it clearly brighten Hwal's life just a little bit. And I'm definitely not opposed be able to see him smiling a bit more.

Since last week I've shared my complaints for the director, it's only fair that I also give my compliment where it's due. First, I'm not sure how far the director's intention goes, but I appreciated every bit of the pent-up tension during almost every confrontation between Hwal and Sang-un that somehow felt like a confusing cross between hatred-based and sexual. The deliberate use of proprietary words like 'mine' and 'yours' that usually pertained something romantic only heightened the heavy horror-thriller vibe between these two. Second, I think it's an accomplishment that for a drama this brutal and bloody, the creator never stoop down to gratuitous violence.

P.S. Am I the only one who experienced whiplash from Do-yun's blase reaction to almost everything? The thing is, I don't think this is a problem of acting, directing, or writing because it felt too deliberate. All the other characters, save for him, has reacted...

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@missvictrix

Why is he so good at being a deranged villain in Rococo-esque suits and settings?

Probably because he has lots and lots of practice playing terrifying psychopath in that unfortunate drama called Gapdong. I just hope that the writing in this drama will fare so much better than that one.

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Indeed! lol

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“…confrontation between Hwal and Sang-un that somehow felt like a confusing cross between hatred-based and sexual.” Ugh, it definitely made me confused. On the one hand, all the k-drama tropes point to them being the OTP (whether in “before-before” or present) but on the other hand with all the suffering and hatred hanging in the air I cannot take them seriously (yet) as a couple. What’s more I cannot take it seriously as a pure fated-to-die-in-the-poetic-end melodrama. Not sure what’s going on between these two. I’m glad someone else picked up on this aspect because it’s fascinating to explore this ambiguity in k-drama where hardly any ever pops up in the drama land. I feel like the only “love story” in this drama that is not ambiguous is that of the detective/general and Hwal — especially their tender all-accepting encompassing father-son relationship in the past.

Regarding the twins’ soul, I keep forgetting that it’s actually Hwal’s soul, not Sang-eon’s. Because then it makes sense that splitting of the soul somehow affected/eliminated his curse (perhaps masterminded by past Sang-eons to do just that, in which case, is she now helping him?) Never thought about that, and it’s a fascinating possibility.

Now that you mentioned Do-yun…I am becoming suspicious. He (and Si-ho) are still wild cards in my playbook.

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Yessss, I noticed the bit of sexual tone too. Like when Hwal had that nightmare about Sang Eon choking him on the bed. Their body positions, how their bodies responded to their connection, and the angle of that scene all looked erotic was my first thought.

I'm also a little wary of Do Yoon after watching EP 6. He hasn't been reacting the same as the other regular humans~

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Exactly. He doesn't react like a human, but no one seems to be overtly suspicious about him or have any premonition about him being a non-human. (And no one commented on that weirdness either, which seemed very deliberate since they are all on very high-alert about otherworldly things going on in their lives.) If he was one of the reincarnated monster, Hwal and Sang-un would already pick up on that. And if he was some other type of supernatural being, Si-ho's power would warn her against that. I wonder whose reincarnation Do-yun actually is.

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I still think he's the reincarnated son, especially after his interaction with Si-ho in Episode 6. It is weird how he doesn't react but maybe it's because of the connection with Hwal.

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It was Sang-eon's utter stupidity that made me check out of this drama at ep 5.

If a guy locks you up in a room, I don't think you should trust him and get into his car, no matter how much he says 'you don't have to worry about your sister anymore' (that would freak me out so much) and has a scar on his hand. You just run. Especially if you've been trying for years to keep safe. It was just the dumbest thing to do and if Other Bulgasal hadn't called at just the right moment, it would have seen her killed.

Yes, Lee Joon is mesmerising and Gong Seung-yoon was utterly epic in Ep 1. But now I've dropped it as it seemed to turn into men just chasing (and trying to kill) clueless women. Not my type of drama, I'm afraid.

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EP 5 wasn't too bad. There were even a few lines that got a chuckle out of me. I like the lighter moments with humor. I had expected to see more of the water monster though.

There was some humor in EP 6 too after all the action. I knew Butcher Lady Hye Suk was gonna say Hwal was her son, but that and his bewildered face still cracked me up.

Do Yoon had a peculiar line when he didn't want to give Hwal CPR. He said he was afraid he may never go back to his old self if he does it. He said it with a sort of serious/mysterious tone before quickly making up an excuse and running away. I can't tell if he was joking, if he just didn't want to put his lips on the guy, or if he is hiding something. Wondering if maybe his chatty, innocent-looking demeanor is a front.

I'm loving the folklore/fantasy part of this drama.
Can't wait to see more!

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Oh, interesting! My first thought about that joke was that Do Yoon is a still-coming-into-himself gay, like if he kisses a man, he’ll definitely come out. But then I scratched it out because I doubt such a joke would be made in kdrama (sadly) and it wouldn’t make sense in the fantasy world the writers built. So-so glad that someone picked it up and reminded me about it. Why is the world did he say it? Very, very interesting!

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I thought it was weird, it could be he was making a joke about being attracted to Hwal, or any guy, or kisses between same gender people, which would be plain bad taste. I doubt drama will go back to the reason behind this joke.

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Why did they make the female lead so boring? You'd expect having lived for hundreds of years as a bulgalsal, she'd have more to bring to the table than wide eyed innocence and a good nature. Urgh. I wish her sister was the one who had survived the attack, she'd make a more compelling female lead.

Lee Joon's character is the only one that is doing immortality right.

I feel like this drama could do without an OTP. I'm not feeling the Sang-un and Hwal connection, as much as the drama was trying to establish that in ep. 6.

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She doesn't have the memories. She has been living as a regular woman and being killed by LJ's monster. I do agree she is a bit too boring and passive.

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This drama is amusing but it is also a guilty pleasure.
So many silly things will probably not get answers.
Why do they reincarnate with the same face? How could one soul get into twins? Why did older sister remember her past? Why would Si-Ho not believe her sister if she had special powers of her own? If previous SE's lives were killed by Crazy Bulgasal why would Hwal not know about it, if he had pictures of her in the past? Why does he think she can remember anything if everybody else, including the monsters, doesn't have memories from other lives? Why does he live in a horror movie set? Is it to match his food?

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Good questions

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Sigh, this is my "guilty pleasure" K-drama of the year so far. All are very good questions.

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I'm wondering if the Bulgasal woman from the past was actually a twin too: the good one who saved Hwal when he was a child and the bad one who killed his family and who he stabbed and then carried the scar (and who has now ended her reincarnations).

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Oh, wow! I never even thought about it! This would be an interesting twist. That would also hopefully explore @lixie question a logic behind the soul getting split in two.

Hwal's home decor I'm afraid would not be explained ever.

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I'm not sure it would, Bulgasal woman would have had no soul, even if there were two women. Somehow Hwal's soul was split because that's what attracts the monsters and both sisters carried it.

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This would actually make sense and explain the whole twin arc too. Basically the story would come full circle except human older sis wasn't evil in any way. Why does Hwall believe both twins should have been born with the scar? The older sis never had his soul only the memories and scar but why does Hwall think she had his soul when clearly the younger sis has it. Who is the original Bulgasal is still the prime question.

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