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Bulgasal: Immortal Souls: Episodes 15-16 Open Thread (Final)

Welp, it’s over! And although we’re left with some lingering questions, the story came full circle in a satisfying way as we learn not only about the dawn of our tale, but how the fate amongst our characters is brought to a close. The story opened with bloodshed, hate, and mercy… and it ends on much the same.

 
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP

As much as I was dying to find out the conclusion of our story, I almost didn’t want to watch the finale. I have really enjoyed floating this crazy story for the last two months, and I’m genuinely sorry to say goodbye to it. But also, it was high time all the fragments came together. We’ve been seeing them for so long, and in so many different flashbacks, that it was amazing to me how once the drama just let them play out instead of breaking them up, everything came together.

But before we get to all that history, which opens the final episode, Hwal and Sang-eon have a lot of talking and planning to do. Even if Hwal can’t yet remember the 1,000-year story line, he remembers the 600-year one all too well, and he knows instinctively that the story began — and will end — on that fateful mountain where the bulgasal once lived.

He and Sang-eon go there to jog her memory and figure out a game plan, and scene after scene confirms how close we’re getting to the end. The nearer Hwal gets to the mountain where it all began, the more people from the past keep echoing around him — dang, the drama does this so well. I feel Hwal’s recognition of people right in the pit of my stomach with him, and what makes this even more fabulous is that we’ll soon see how this signifies in his own lifeline.

Another sure-fire sign that we’re at the pinnacle of everything is that both Hwal and Sang-eon are ready to sacrifice themselves for the other. Sang-eon has a particularly wild moment where she tells Hwal she thought she liked him, but it’s so much more than that — that if he were to die, it would be like half of herself was also dying. It’s beautiful and poetic… and sounds an awful lot like the mythology of two bulgasal whose lives are tied to the other, eh?

Sang-eon is unwilling to lose Hwal, but she’s more than willing to slit her own throat and give Hwal his soul back. But returning everything to its original place, like she wants, is not quite as simple as it sounds.

While Sang-eon’s come to the realization that her life is tied irrevocably to Hwal, Hwal has a similar moment where he says, “All my life I’ve only thought about you.” It’s swoony as can be, but it also lands one of my favorite emotional points of the show, which is how Hwal’s obsession with Sang-eon, over the centuries, has teetered the line between love and hate. We watched him hunt her for 600 years for his revenge, and now we see him willing to lose everything to protect her. I think the best part of this, that will later feed all the backstory, is that the bottom line is how he’s drawn to her. Sometimes it’s because of resentment, sometimes it’s the desire to find her and protect her, but he’s always drawn to her.

There’s so much emotional build up in the penultimate episode that it’s quite clear things are going to get intense. But it’s not until Hwal admits that he wants to live life as a human again and grow old and die that we know: oh dear, now that he’s said that, he’s probably not going to make it, right?

With all this build-up behind us, Hwal and Sang-eon head to the infamous mountain with Detective Kwon in tow. He’s acting mighty strange, which Sang-eon rightly picks up on, but it’s not enough to stop a horrible chain of events. But then again, could anything stop it? This fate is stronger than any of them can fight, it seems.

And so, we reach the final battle, and it’s absolutely harrowing, and as bloody and horrible as the beginning of our drama was. Hwal approaches the room with the well, and Ok Eul-tae is ready in wait, with gasoline and matches, ready to put Hwal in the well instead. Rage and resentment, another major theme of this show, are well on display, and Eul-tae has given up on trying to break the bond between Hwal and Sang-eon.

Because Hwal has never had human blood, he’s always at a disadvantage. But that innate humanity has always been a strength, too, until now. He knows just what to say to get to Eul-tae, but it doesn’t give him an advantage for long, and Eul-tae’s love-hate rage towards everyone continues to spiral out of control. Despite his best efforts, Hwal winds up at the bottom of the well, injured beyond recognition, while Ok Eul-tae heads out to finish off the rest of them.

Sang-eon has poison syringes, and Detective Kwon has a revolver, but their plan doesn’t go as expected. Detective Kwon has learned that damage to both bulgasal hearts simultaneously will cause the pair to die, and despite the warnings from Sang-eon not to shoot Ok Eul-tae’s heart when they know that Hwal is (im)mortally injured, he does so.

And then he does again. It’s positively tragic, because both were his sons in the past, and now he’s been made into the enemy of the one that loves him the most. Despite Ok Eul-tae previously saying that he’d never kill Detective Kwon, he gives him a mortal wound while he yells for Sang-eon to escape.

This show might be bloody and ruthless, but it’s also full of gorgeous tragic moments, and one of the strongest and most unbearable being Detective Kwon at the well. In this sequence, Detective Kwon finds himself in the same tangle of mixed emotions that everyone seems to in this story. Then, in a final act of sacrifice, he drips his own blood (since he’s dying) into the well so that Hwal can use it to recover. OMG it’s the prophecy from Aunt Lee!

I didn’t see this coming at all. If I expected anyone to “feed on the blood of the father” it was Ok Eul-tae… but no, it’s Hwal! And Hwal… while all this is going on he’s in grief and agony at the bottom of the well, first calling him Detective Kwon, but eventually reverting to what’s been in his heart all long. “Father!” he cries out. Gah, it’s so tragic!

According to the end of the prophecy, now an evil spirit will arise, and that’s Hwal. He’s now fully bulgasal, and unstoppably awful. When Ok Eul-tae tears into Sang-eon and she shrieks like never before, that’s all it takes for Hwal, and he finishes off Ok Eul-tae once and for all. (I can’t stomach that blood-glugging sound effect even one more time; I’m glad this is the last.)

Hwal runs out of the cave to finish his deed (i.e., stab himself so both bulgasal will die once and for all), but not before Sang-eon reaches him. They share a painful goodbye until he obliterates into the atmosphere. The same happens to Ok Eul-tae. The bulgasal are gone.

After that, Sang-eon barely makes it off the mountain with the help of Si-ho and Do-yoon. Just when they’re almost clear, she collapses. She’s wounded beyond repair from Ok Eul-tae’s attack, and is on death’s door. But before she dies, she shares her memories with Si-ho.

This tragic ending is broken up by a really long segment of the 1,000-year storyline, and like I said before, just seeing all these scenes play out in chronological order gives us a lot of clarity.

At the start of the story, Hwal and Sang-eon were indeed the bulgasal pair that lived in the cave on the mountain, happy together. But I guess bulgasal don’t reproduce, because Sang-eon’s heart is overtaken by a young girl and her baby brother who wind up in their cave. She delivers them to a woman that lives tucked away in the forest (Aunt Lee!) who later raises the kids (who grow up to be Si-ho and Do-yoon!).

Bulgasal Hwal is worried that Sang-eon will leave him for these children, and though she promises that she never will, she stays with them to protect them as they grow up. I guess when you’re immortal, ten years don’t really matter? But then again, it does, because while she’s been gone, Hwal has waited, but his patience has grown thin and a jealous rage has taken its place.

Meanwhile, Si-ho and Do-yoon are collecting herbs when they witness Ok Eul-tae murder his brother (which we saw hints of so many episodes ago). He’s about to do the same to our kids when Sang-eon steps in and saves them in bulgasal mode. So, Ok Eul-tae — being the weakest link in this entire story — blames the murder he committed on the bulgasal. This sets his father (Detective Kwon) on a monster-killing rampage.

Just when they’ve all discovered Sang-eon’s true identity and are about to “kill” her, Hwal swoops in from the mountain and slaughters them all. This is the fiery bloodbath we’ve witnessed a hundred times in flashback, when Hwal turns with an evil smile, and when Sang-eon tries to stab him, but he catches the blade with his hand and gets his fated scar.

Here’s where it gets even more horrible, though — Detective Kwon, Si-ho, and Do-yoon, who are all mortally wounded, gather around and stab Hwal. And Sang-eon, seeing her opportunity, stabs herself. Ostensibly, the pair should die. But they don’t — because Ok Eul-tae is in awe of the evil power he’s just witnessed in Hwal, and he helps him off the scene only to have his soul stolen (another moment we’re finally getting context on).

And so, while Hwal dies and is reborn as a human, Ok Eul-tae becomes a bulgasal with a dark hole. Sang-eon survives and waits for Hwal’s return (not knowing what happened, and promising him that she had not abandoned him), while Ok Eul-tae does everything to keep them as enemies.

I’m left a little blown away by how all these three storylines fit, make sense with each other, and yet create a million contradictions, too. For instance, that Hwal and Sang-eon are part of a tragic pair makes sense, and their tale of love and obsession rings true throughout all three storylines.

But the rest of the character?! Hwal only remembers the 600-year-old story, so he’s been grieving for these people that actually murdered him 1,000 years ago. The man he adored as a a father was the same man that attacked him and his love; similarly, his wife and son whom he felt endless guilt towards, were actually also his murderers.

And maybe the biggest shock of all is how Hwal has seen himself as the wronged hero (and so have we) all along, when he himself was actually the catalyst that started this whole thing. His rage and protection of Sang-eon caused the bloodshed, and his curse over the three that stabbed him caused the very fate that haunted him all those centuries later.

I think this is the part I love the most — that he cursed Kwon, Si-ho, and Do-yoon for how they turned on him, and yet he wound up the person most victimized by the curse. He cursed them to harm them, but because he came to love them in his human life, he suffered the most. As Do-yoon said of his hyung in the present-day storyline, seeing the people you love suffer is a torture like none other.

And so, no one is hurt by Hwal’s curse more than Hwal. He had to watch the people he loved suffer that terrible fate… only to find out he’s the one that cursed them with it. Gahhh, it’s Greek tragedy level greatness on so many levels, especially with the idea that with one misjudgment or misdeed (hamartia) — viz., his misunderstanding of Sang-eon and rage against her — he created his own hell.

I love it. I love it so much that I don’t even mind there are quite a bit of questions that aren’t exactly explained. For instance, I still don’t feel like I understand the dark hole concept (unless it was just Ok Eul-tae’s innate sickly-ness carrying through into his immortality). I also don’t feel like I understand why the soul of Sang-eon was split in the present-day timeline, or how/why that changed things so dramatically, beyond the weird connection to Ok Eul-tae which is also a little fuzzy for me. But I’m okay with some loose ends, because the tragedy was there, and so was the overarching story.

Did I expect a happy ending? No, but I don’t know if I expected the bloodbath that we got, either, and all three of our characters dead by the end of it. However, I liked the sadness that the story ended with; Si-ho alone is left as the memory-keeper, and though she lives up to her promise to live a full and happy life, the knowledge of everything that happened before is always with her.

And fate — finally — seems to show a bit of kindness to our pair in the epilogue. Fifty years later, Sang-eon is reincarnated and is a young art student (I thought she was on her last and final incarnation in the present-day storyline?). However, one day she gets a mysterious letter with the picture of the old house they all lived in a (literal) lifetime ago.

Sang-eon goes to the house to investigate, since it makes her react so strongly, and when she’s there, a dapper and sexy (sorry) Hwal also appears. Never mind the unlikeliness of the house surviving another fifty years, or how both of them happen to be there at the same time in fully human form — I don’t care about these Minor Details, because the moment it creates is worth it. There’s a recognition between the two that they can’t quite put their finger on; they linger in each other’s presence wondering if they’ve met before.

Some people might not dig this, but it’s a story element I love — fated love that pulls two people together despite understanding what came before it. It might not be explained or justified as well as some of the other plot lines were, but it’s beautifully poetic, and it pulls together the essence of the story in a very moving way.

And after all, that’s why I’m here — to feel things! And Bulgasal sure made me do that. This is the first K-drama to reach these epic Greek tragedy heights for me, and I hope it’s not the last, because that was quite the enjoyable ride.

 
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I did not get exactly what happened thousands year ago that they had that much in trouble :)This show had a serious 'writing' trouble but I must say that last ten minutes was the best part of drama for sometime. Si hyo and Do Yun become a family and Hwal &Sung Un meeting was pretty emotional .Hawal was much more handsome with the new hair cut ! Why his hair was awful during 16 and half episodes :)and Sung Un was the worst dressed up FL of year :) Hwal looked so much like Eward Cullen from Twilight at this episode :)

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Thank you for the recap. I was actually watching the drama but then abandoned it but was still curious to know how the story unfolds. I only got one question, the reason that Ok Eul-Tae felt the pain whenever something happened to Sang-eon was that she actually was carrying his soul? Did I get it right, or I'm missing something?

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Seems like that soul went from Eul-tae, to Hwal, to Sang-un. I also can't fathom the pain connection between Eul-tae and Sang-un....

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Yes,it was because the soul actually belonged to him in the first place.

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Ohhh...okay, I didn't make that connection. Thanks!

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I'm so sad this drama ended...

I was wondering why Sang-un and Hwal reincarnated again.
But I saw some tweet, it made so much sense to me.
Basically they are not soulmates, they share the same soul or whatever they have...
They are always be one.
Sang-un begged Hwal to be reincarnated before he died. If he reincarnates, she does too, as two people just like twins.
Because they are always together.
Anyway, that's what I want to think...

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And I can't praise Lee Joon's performance enough.
He was absolutely phenomenal. He elevated this show to another level.
I heard he was the only cast who did ad-libs. Sometimes 30% of his lines were ad-libbed by him.
He is my favorite actor now.

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Do you have any links to regarding Lee Joon's ad-libbing? Another Beanie mentioned this before and now I'm interested in finding out more.

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Here you go!
I read the original article in Korean since it had a little longer interview.
https://www.soompi.com/article/1504685wpp/lee-jin-wook-and-lee-joon-talk-about-working-together-on-bulgasal-and-more

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Thank you for the link! I enjoyed reading the interview :)

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Thank you. :)

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I like this theory. I think the saying that the Bulgasals done have a soul is misleading. I mean the title of the show is “Bulgasal: Immortal Souls”!

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Oh you are absolutely right!
"Bulgasal: Immortal Souls"!

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So, basically, the root of all problems was the Bulgasal Candy from 1000 years ago who wanted to play with dolls (I mean, little humans), so she left her other half to do so. Because if she didn't leave Hwal to go and live with then-siblings SiHo and DoYeon (and do what? Mrs. Lee was already taking care of them), there would be no need to save her = bloodshed = enraged Hwal throwing curses at everybody. :D
And Eul-tae would eventually just die like a normal human worm that he was.
Anyway, the ending was pretty good for me. Much better than I feared, not so many loose ends left flying around.
I also appreciate that Sang Eun's wardrobe commemorated it appropriately by being maybe the worst yet from all of the episodes.
Also, the Bulgasal Hotness from 1000 years ago is the hottest Hwal version for me.
In the end, I have only one true complaint: there was no smooch!!! :(

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I thought the same thing about the lack of kiss when they were saying goodbye. But Hwal's mouth was filled with (someone else's) blood so I can see how that would have been kinda gross.

Also, in regards to your summary of events: why couldn't Sang-eon have visited Hwal during those 10 years? She could have still protected the kids without completely abandoning him.

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I believe that Sang-eon saw the children as a way to experience loving and taking care of someone other than Hwal. Of the pair, Sang-eon struck me as the curious one. She saw an opportunity to experience something new in her life. At least that's how I interpret her decision.

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I agree, but I guess I didn't see why she couldn't do that without never seeing him at all for 10 years, or explaining to him what she was feeling.

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Because this was the 1000 year ago version of going abroad and forgetting how to use phones, computers and planes.

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LOLLLLL @ the grossness. I was thinking about the lack of kisses too! /sighs/ But true, it would have been weird with his bloody mouth. XD;;;

I guess she pretended to be a villager and couldn't go back and forth to the mountains much or else the other villagers would be suspicious. Showing any hint of being a monster or being supernatural meant immediate danger or death.

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A part of me wrote a spin off at the point where the kids wander into lord and lady Bulgasal residence. Lady Bulgasal discusses her desire to have little Bulgasal babies with her other half. They agree to find a way. She drops off the human kids with Aunt Lee. The lady Bulgasal does periodic check-ins on the human kids while the Lord and Lady Bulgasals spend their time trying to have little baby Bulgasals 😉
So much tragedy averted and everyone has a good time!

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lol, I like it!!!

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I'm in! Can't wait to read your screenplay!

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Perfection!!!

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@missvictrix eloquently captured all the emotional beats of the finale in her recap.

@turka, you’ve perfectly captured all the snarky thoughts I had when watching the finale. 🤣🤣

I too found that he bearded, brooding Hwal from 1000 years was the hottest version of Hwal. My least favorite (still hot) version was the one showed up in the end. Strange cos beards typically don’t do it for me…

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This, I thought, wow he is so well groomed. Stunning actually came out of my mouth.

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Hahahah! :))) And stunned we were.

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I like beards when they're very short like Hwal's, so his 600 ya Goryeo version was no. 1 for me before I saw the 1000 ya ver. That one had even better hairdo, so that was it. As for the least favorite, I' d have to go with the one in the shirts from few episodes ago (but also, still hot).
I'm so glad I can have these productive and meaningful conversations with people here.

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Interesting! My hotness ranking goes
-1000 years Hwal (beard, hairstyle, brooding, that smirk. Everything was working 😍😍😍😍😍)
- 600 years Hwal (beard, brooding 😍😍😍😍)
- Hwal in present day in shirts (Shirts do it for me big time! So the blue and wine colored ones! 😍😍😍)
- Hwal in present day in blood spattered hoodies and long sleeve-Ts! Erotically fighting with Eul-Tae! 😍😍)
- Reincarnated clean shaven vanilla Hwal 😍)

I like how we sync up and also don’t sync up.

The hotness discussion is very productive and necessary!

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You chart has detailed everything perfectly, I have nothing to add. Other than shirts being in the last place for me, my ranking is identical. and yes, Tsssss!

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Ok Eul Tae: move aside bitches, he’s mine, all mine, muhahahaha!

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@turka Yes!! What a waste to have Hwal be such a sexy beast and give us no smooch! I really felt like the emotional mountainside - "you are half of me" speech would have worked really well for an embrace.

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Precisely :( I will never understand the minds of Korean drama writers, how can they omit such obvious and necessary stuff...

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I agree that this was mostly a satisfying and fun ride, even with the Greek tragedy ending. I also was fine with the reunion at the end, although it's true that the reason why Sang-eon was able to reincarnate one more time after all was never explained.

A few other thoughts/questions:

It wasn't clear to me at all when/how/why Hwal and Sang-eon finally remembered the totality of their past. What triggered that? We've waited the whole episode for this reveal as viewers, but the characters have also waited, so I wanted to see the moment when they finally understood their connection.

Was I the only one who found the confrontation between Hwal and Ok Eul-tae to be very erotically charged? The grappling, stabbing, biting and Ok Eul-tae muttered something about wanting him to be his had a definite sexual undercurrent, imo. This isn't that surprising because I think that energy has been there since their first scene together, and it definitely made the end scene more powerful because Ok Eul-tae's emotional landscape as a character proved to be more nuanced and interesting than that of the garden-variety supernatural villain.

I felt a bit sad that Si-ho appeared to never marry or reunite in some way with the father of her daughter. She already lost so much. I know she had Do-yoon, but that's not quite the same as a partner.

Loved how they wrapped up Kwon's arc not only by his death, but also a scene showing how he had defended his son in the last moments of the bloody village massacre. I did, however, long for some kind of present day realization that in his past life he had rejected his sickly, weaker son and that's what started the whole mess.

And finally, so glad Sang-eon had a semi-decent outfit in the epilogue scenes! Seriously, one of the most frustrating parts of this drama was her awful wardrobe--that baggy floral dress, puffer vest, and leggings combo in the final episode seriously detracted from any bad-assery she was exhibiting in her final confrontations with Eul-tae and teary goodbye to Hwal. I do applaud the actress' lack of vanity, but still, the costuming people did her dirty. They must have spent all their money and inspiration on Lee Joon.

And speaking of Lee Joon, I'm a broken record, but he really made this drama work for me. I'm not sure I would have watched it all the way through and enjoyed it so much without him. He's a really good actor.

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"Was I the only one who found the confrontation between Hwal and Ok Eul-tae to be very erotically charged?"
You are not alone in this opinion. That sexual undercurrent was present from the beginning. Eul-tae was a character who never experienced love or affection (past and current). His relationship with Do-yoon was evidence of his desire to connect with another person.
"I also was fine with the reunion at the end, although it's true that the reason why Sang-eon was able to reincarnate one more time after all was never explained."
I believe that she was able to reincarnate because her soul wasn't destroyed. I remember in one of the earlier episodes Eul-tae stating that if he destroyed Sang-eon's soul than she would never be able to reincarnate.

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You are not alone. I definitely felt the erotic undertones, but I also think that there was so much more to it. I think Eul-tae wanted a bunch of things. Perhaps he also wanted a taste of the true bond that our original bulgasal pair shared with each other. No matter what, he couldn't attain that state of true union.

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Thank you for the recap. The ending was a bittersweet one and I will admit that I would've loved for Hwal, Sang-eon, Si-ho, and Do-yoon to have lived happily ever after as one big family. However, it was Hwal's sacrifice that made it possible for Si-ho and Do-yoon to finally live whole and fulfilled lives. They each had their own families and continued to love and support one another. I was also happy that Hwal and Sang-eon were also given the opportunity to find one another and fall in love all over again. I am sad that it ended but also glad that I watched this drama. Bulgasal provided me with a wonderful escape. It made weekends all the more exciting. I look forward to seeing what story the writer(s) come up with next.

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Hwal not only cursed the other three but himself as well when he was re-born with the curse of the Bulgasal. His curse became his tragedy that pushed everyone away from him and made him more human. In another way Hwal was an 'extreme' Bulgasal who obsessed over his other half and an 'extreme' human who mourned for his family for 600 years. Nara ultimately wasn't a well written character in either form but Bulgasal Nara was more interesting than human Nara who was the most extreme candy I've seen since Heirs. The ending was much sadder than I was expecting but was the best part of the whole drama.

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By cursing himself and living as a human, he also changed for the better. His current bulgasal incarnation was imbued with a humanity that his original one lacked. He didn't always act with human kindness; after all, he was rejected by those around him and despised by many, but he was also loved by people like his adopted father. His was a life simultaneously cursed and blessed.

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We spent the whole drama wondering who or why Hwal was cursed turns out it was all his own doing. That one reveal had to be one of the most tragic reveals in dramaland. The ending that Hwal chose for him was satisfying and fulfilled the theme of retribution that the drama had been implying since the start.

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I guess when you’re immortal, ten years don’t really matter? But then again, it does, because while she’s been gone, Hwal has waited, but his patience has grown thin and a jealous rage has taken its place.

Might have saved some trouble if she had hiked up the mountain now and then to visit him. Just sayin'. #hownottodoashortdistancerelationship

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More like time matters even to immortals, or how not to do an eternal relationship?

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My thoughts exactly. And they could communicate telepathically?
I know we needed conflict, but this was a problem too easily solved by a couple of conversations.
Or, crazy thought, maybe it couldn't. I actually found it interesting that the drama didn't try to make their story in the past lovey-dovey. They understand and appreciate each other more now. It actually seemed quite strained in the past and she clearly "left" for a reason. But that even would have been more interesting to explore instead of letting all of the quiet assumptions just "happen".

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The no-mouths-moving speaking segment jarred the heck out of me because my brain couldn't recall a time of such in all the flashbacks prior. I almost went back to watch some of the flashbacks to see if my brain had failed to note an instance of that.

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I really liked that kk. I thought it was a nice touch, the Bulgasal were so strange that they did not even talk like people among themselves. In the other eps they were never together.

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*nods to the never together comment*

It definitely makes sense that the two with such a strong/unique bond might have such ability. That said, I've been questioning my memory a lot lately (recent change in meds has fragmented mine a bit), so I think that's why it ripped me out of the moment as it did.🤔

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Never mind the unlikeliness of the house surviving another fifty years

ALL emotionally-significant former residences in kdramaland are protected by demolition-armor.

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I think Hwal reincarnated because once he destroyed the pair of Bulgasal, Sang Un still remained. Her soul got split in two when she was reincarnated as twins. One part got destroyed by Ok Eul Tae but the other half wasn't destroyed as Sang Un died a natural death. Since she was originally connected to Hwal, once Hwal freed himself from Ok Eul Tae taking back his curse....he got reincarnated because Sang Un survived. I liked the ending. So Ho and Do Yoon living full life and then finding reincarnated Sang Un was a good closure. They didn't meet right away but I think Si Ho sent the picture to reincarnated Sang Un. Yes, its an open end but Sang Un and Hwal have now met without any past grudge with a new lease of life so I imagine in time they'll get to experience love, family and everything they ever wanted together. Its in a way good that Si Ho, Do Yoon didn't outright meet Sang Un....because they came between the original Bulgasal pair and set things in motion over the next 1000 years. Its only appropriate they step aside this time. Its also poetic how Hwal set up suffering for everyone he held dear by that curse because that is how a curse and retribution manifest. I agree this show had major writing and pacing issues but enjoyed watching it very much. Some parts remain a mystery but I still liked it. Lee Jun was amazing. The cast had incredible rapport on screen. Cinematography was fantastic.

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Sigh. Neck-biting. I fear we may be stuck with that for a long time, and not just because everyone is having fun with their zompire trend. Or because it's a way to sneak in something that could be a bit erotic. Not all killings take place in Truck-accessible eras and locations, guns are supposed to be hard to get, and if you want to stab someone you have to blur out the knife. Fatal neck-bites are not just temporarily trendy, they're convenient.

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This drama had good vision but poor execution. You really only needed to watch the first two episodes and the last because not much happened in between. Also, the 5-10 minutes Eul-tae got per episode because Lee Joon was fun to watch. Still, it was a ride, and the ending was fine.

We guessed most of the backstory though I found it funny that Hwal was the one responsible for the curse. Speaking of the curse, Bulgasal Hwal was quite the drama king, cursing the three and promising to track them down and kill their reincarnations. So they stabbed him. Big deal. He was immortal.

I was hoping the final episode would make all that staring between Hwal and Sang-eon worth it, but honestly, the Bulgasal romance was not healthy and the relationship in the present day wasn’t particularly healthy either. I’m not sure why I was supposed to be rooting for them to get another crack at it but whatever.

Pretty convenient that they reincarnated at the same time lol.

I know the whole point was that Hwal embraced humanity and chose not to be a monster, but I didn’t really feel like he learned to understand or care about humans that he didn’t consider “his.”

Eul-tae and Hwal’s scenes were so sexually charged. All that biting … whew! I would have watched the heck out of a BL version of this drama.

Si-ho was underutilized, but I liked her relationship with Do-yoon. While Do-yoon married, it looked like Si-ho never did and it was just her and her daughter. That’s kind of sad. I didn’t understand the point of her pregnancy until we learned Hwal cursed her womb (though I don’t get how she gave birth to A-chan).

The biggest question I was left with was why the heck was Sang-eon’s wardrobe so bad? All of her outfits were tragic but that last one … what even was that?

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You know what? Instead of commenting I'll just second mostly everything that you said. You pretty much nailed my thoughts.
This may actually be my fault due to my expectations, but the lead's romance was the weakest part of the drama. Seriously, Eul-tae showed more passion towards Hwal than Hwal and Sang-un ever showed each other.
Which may have been the point, which is fine. That just means other aspects need to be compensated. And the drama did that in some of those aspects. Like the fact that Hwal is low-key the villain here? Wild. But the execution was very drawn out. This revelation was a 1000 years in the making and Hwal apologized for it in a 5-minute conversation. Like, what?
And like you put it so beautifully, if the point of all of this was the redemption of Hwal, could we have spent more time with that, than a rushed, thrown together montage of the lives of the other characters and just another 5-minutes of what happened to him? I didn't find it impactful or satisfying at all, though I would argue that the show tried to make him come off as more selfless with all of the monster killing. We just didn't know we needed to think of him that way at the time what with all of the delayed revelations. And I know it could've been done better because so much needless time was spent elsewhere.

All in all, I enjoyed the drama for how unique it tried to be, just wish the execution was tighter. As is my wish for so many dramas. So many have trouble sticking the landing.

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First, many thanks to @missvictrix for your detailed summary of each episode. As the finale drew near, my safety net was knowing that your final recap would help explain everything.
A couple of lingering minor points...why did Eul-Tae tell Hwal (in ep. 12-13?) that he (Eul-Tae) was only half Bulgasal? Also, in ep. 14, Hwal tells Sung-Un that Bulgasals were not able to reincarnate. But these are only minor points. The entire story was an epic tragedy, on every level.
So for me, Eul-Tae's relationship with Hwal did hint of a darkly erotic, unrequited passion. Lee Joon's performance was brilliant and I looked forward to every scene with him in it.
My thanks to all the commenters whose observations and questions enriched my enjoyment of this show!

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"why did Eul-Tae tell Hwal (in ep. 12-13?) that he (Eul-Tae) was only half Bulgasal?"
Because he was human before he turned unlike Hwal who was born a Bulgasal(the original one) so in raport with him he was always a half...
I somehow think he could reincarnate as he choosed to sacrifice himself to end the curse...As we saw the show had the theme of karma and retribution...

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I read a comment on another sight that got me thinking about Eul-tae's determination to seperate Hwal and Sang-eon. One aspect of the show that I was hoping would be explored (and wasn't) was how Eul-tae developed feelings for Hwal. The only interaction between both men one thousand years ago happened at the moment that Eul-tae was turned. Hwal extracted a promise from Eul-tae and then turned into ash. Hwal is then reborn as a human and then turned back into a Bulgasal. During this time between Hwal being human and then becoming a Bulgsal the two men never meet or interact. So again, where do Eul-tae's strong feelings stem from?

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Maybe from his Bulgasal nature ? and the fact that this creature was living originally with an eternal companion ... something written in his genetic code inducing him to associate himself with his natural pair ?

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Hi @Liodee! I was under the impression that his desire was based on an established relationship and/or connection. Also, I am not sure if he and Hwal were a bonded pair because Sang-eon was still around six hundred years ago. I guess we will never know.

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I think it was more complicated and happened over a sman of 1000 years but got triggered that night...You are right that on the surface you wonder why or how his devotion for Hwal when they just had that one interaction...My take is that his twisted desire and obssession entangled over those 1000 years becoming what we ended up seeing...Without even caring to do so 1000 Hwal gave Eun Tae a purpose and value when he turned him(that no one ever did till him) and told him to find him and turn him back into a Bulgasal(so he attached right there to him like that born chick who chooses it's mother) aside that we saw Eun Tae looking up at him as the supreme being because of his power and a model he wanted to follow and also be himself,escaping from his weak self that he surely loathed...Finding himself immortal,slowly shredding his humanity he kept one goal and that to be reunited with him...
We all can agree that their relationship,from Eun Tae side was overflowing with such sexual undertones that were more for us to pick up rather than straight up saying it(guess because well SK isin't that open in big producions about gay relationships) adding more likely his Bulgasal nature in him and the vast loneliness he always felt and considered Hwal being the key to erase it along his dark hole...So,over the years and keeping an eye on Hwal(the reborn) for more than 600 years his desire to have that power he once had,the idea that he was the same as him,two monsters so they shared a common treat twisted it in that sickly obssesion we saw...
We can still mostly agree that Eun Tae ended up desiring Hwal as his and he even said it in the last episode so he wanted as a whole,companion,lover and everything in between...

Can't lie when i say as twisted as it was their relationship it was the highlight of this show for me rather than the boring and insipid epic romance we were promised to be delivered by our main leads...

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I do agree with your interpretation of Eul-Tae's obsession with Hwal, whom he saw as the only one capable of erasing his "vast loneliness". Maybe the Dark Hole was a metaphor for that loneliness. And I think Eul-Tae's genuine feelings for Do-Yong reveal a lot about his need for acceptance. Sad to see the death spiral of this twisted soul (and no, I'm not saying Eul-Tae was "good", because he did kill tons of people... I'm just saying)

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Eul-tae’s obsession and longing with Hwal has to do with power too.
He saw that the bulgasals have a lot of power and he saw what Hwal could do by himself because of his love for Sang-Un. Sang-un is the bulgasal half that is sympathetic and empathetic to humans while the Hwal half didn’t much care for them. So in a way the Bulgasals didn’t subjugate the humans because Sang-Un was as the other half.
If Eul-Tae becomes the other half in this bonded pair with Hwal then Eul-Tae can wreck havoc and basically rule over the humans. I think that’s why he had a twisted fascination and obsession with Hwal.

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That's quite on point,it all harbored from power and his desire to have it...That's why he desired the powerful Bulgasal Hwal he knew 1000 and not the weak one who desired to be human...
Doubt anything was worst for him than weakness...

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That makes sense to me. You've nailed Eul-tae's obsession: power and the alternate scenario. Your explanation of Sang-un makes perfect sense too. She brought compassion towards humans to the relationship. It also makes sense of her candy-ness. Eureka!!!

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Show thought ,"u guys miss a Bambi Candy so we'll deliver u one"

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@miky88 "My take is that his twisted desire and obssession entangled over those 1000 years becoming what we ended up seeing."
You've brought up a good point that I didn't think of.

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I thought he had had many years where he kept tabs on Hwal. So he was observing him from afar, and perhaps longing for Hwal to see him as something other than an enemy. In his loneliness and conviction that he was completely misunderstood, I think he fantasized about them teaming up as some kind of Bulgasal power couple.

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Omg! Really? All I saw was Ok Eul Tae wanting the power that Hwal wanted and that was Hwals opportunity to be reborn by taking His soul. OkEul Tae became obsessed with staying powerful and immortal. The only way for him to stop suffering from the pain is to get rid of the black hole. He Only needed Hwal so he can stay alive and to help him rid the black hole that Hwal cursed him with. There’s no way Ok Eul Tae had any kind of romantic feelings for Hwal whatsoever. It’s the obsession of how powerful Hwal was. When he saw how Hwal was so strong, he wanted to be exactly like him.

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@sirena I have assumed that there were interactions in that 400 year span that we don't see. Eul-tae says several times that Hwal always picks "her" over and over even though it never works out. I think that's just a part of the story we'll never fully know because Eul-tae was the only one able to remember that part and he didn't feel like sharing.

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Hi @csmith That could very well be. I guess I was just hoping for a bit more.

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Morale of the story, "Beasts, don't get involved with humans. Because humans will find all kinds of ways to turn everything into a hot pile of beastly mess of galactic proportion."

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Started to watch this one, based on yours and @missvictrix 's enthusiasm, but this was one journey through eternity I couldn't continue. However, I loved the recaps and comments, and I think the moral of the story that relationships between bulgalsal and humans are always tragic is an important one for us all to remember.
Fortunately, I was able to learn that lesson from the comments--especially upon discovering that there was not even a blood filled kiss! Now, I think I'm going to have to watch a fluffy k-drama romance, to cleanse my palate, so to speak.

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I think this is the part I love the most — that he cursed Kwon, Si-ho, and Do-yoon for how they turned on him, and yet he wound up the person most victimized by the curse.

OMGYES exactly. Love this line from missvictrix!

I felt similar to missvictrix. I was ready for the finale, but yet I was sad to see it go.

This drama had beautiful cinematography and had a good background story. The potential was there for it to be really epic and amazing, but it fell a little short. I liked the finale and how things wrapped up, but the middle parts of this drama dragged so the overall story didn't feel super satisfying.

Det. Kwon's death again wasn't a surprise to me. I accepted it. But oh man, the scene with him telling Hwal to accept his blood broke me. T_T

I accepted Hwal's death too. He brought on the curses on everyone and his death along with Eul Tae's was the only way that everyone else could be free. His final hug with Sang Eon was so poignant. The closing of his eyes during their embrace. ;_; His time to rest.

It was interesting that Si Ho and Do Yoon were closer than I thought. Before they were Hwal's family, they were actual siblings in their past lives. Their present bond was one that I liked and looked natural. They were the true humans in the past and were affected by the actions of BOTH Hwal and Sang Eon so I'm glad they survived and lived out their lives in the present.

There were probably more than a few plot holes and missing details. One thing I'm wondering was how could Hwal reincarnate? One way to answer that could be that he mistakenly thought Bulgasals could not reincarnate. .... Then I'm wondering about Eul Tae and when/if he is going to reincarnate. And Sang Eon had some flashes of power in past episodes. I kept thinking she would use some of that against Eul Tae.

Anyways. Glad I watched this drama. I liked Lee Jin Wook in this role. He was great.

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That was the irony and karma also the lesson of the higher deities that gave Hwal a taste of his own medicine...
In the end you can say his 3ed life was his reward based on the choises of his second one full of trials...

The monster who didn't care and even ended up hating humans ended up loving them and choosing to live as one while the human(Eun Tae) ended up becoming the true monster and showing the beast he always had inside him...

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Thanks @missvictrix for the thoughtful recaps. I will strangely miss this drama. It had its flaws but it ended pretty well.

In spite of the not so great writing, the repetitive situations, the candyness of the FL, the awful terrible clothes for the women, something worked for this drama. For me it was the glimpses of the past. All the characters had more depth in the past and the present day characters were mostly clueless.

Hwal and Sang-Un as a Bulgasal pair had a connection that was obvious even when they only had a few scenes together. Way more than the present day pair. Some how the FL’s emotional range was higher in the flashback scenes than in the present day. But I also strangely shed tears when the present day candy FL died. So I guess emotionally I was as all over the place in reacting to this drama as the drama itself was. In the end there weren’t any black and white characters which was pretty awesome. Even the candy FL contributed to the tragedy by ghosting her partner for the sake of kids (!) who ended up murdering the other half of our soul.

On the whole, I’m glad I watched it and will probably rewatch the few and far between scenes of the lord and lady Bulgasals together.

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So, didn’t watch it but would like to know if it’s worth your time, should I give it a try?

Not much of a fan of kwon Nara’s acting, feels too green. And never saw much of the lead in anything to tie me in. The premise or plot of the show from google didn’t say much either to tie me in. It didn’t help that I was so hoping won bin would come back on our screen with this but later rejected. So, is this worth your time? Should this be given a try?

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@tazzo I believe that it is a drama worth watching. This was my first introduction to Kwon Nara and I believe that she and Lee Jin-wook worked very well together.

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the show was frustrating for me. It had all the build up of an epic love story, but at the end it kind of fizzled out. I would have preferred more scenes of the bulgasal couple 1000 years ago to show the foundation of their passionate relationship and why Hawl went berserk on the villagers. I would have also preferred a scene where both Hawl and Sang Eon's full memories come back and they realize how important they are to each other. It just felt like the backbone of the story should be their relationship. And it was the rift in that relationship that triggered this 1000 year journey. The romance line, while worked on paper, lacked in passion in its execution. There was way more passion in Ok Eul Tae's love for Hawl, LOL. Anyhoo, the cinematography was heavenly though. So gorgeous.

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I agree with this. Because the writers didn't want to tip their hand as to Hwal and Sang-eon's actual past connection until the very end, we were denied a real foundation for and development of their romance. I think the writers could have stayed true to that plan but perhaps added a few more flashbacks along the way that leaned more obviously romantic; showing that Hwal and Sang-eon had been lovers at some point in the past wouldn't have necessary killed the suspense as to whether one ultimately betrayed the other or not. If they'd followed this path, the ending--especially regarding their goodbye and then the meeting after they'd reincarnated--would have been so much more powerful.

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Totally agree with you. In previews and officials photos of the drama, there were scenes from 1000 years ago showing their relationship, like one with lady bulgasal standing in the feathery field extending her hand to Hawl bulgasal, but it was never shown in the next episode. I was looking forward to it. Oh well. Sometimes I felt like I had to add scenes in my head to make the story make sense, more impactful :-)

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I enjoyed this ending a lot. It was just right. It made me think of Dcarlet Ryeo and how I wanted the ending to be something like this.

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I'm glad the how redeemed itself a little with that ending. I was ready to do a hate post if the writers again insists on forcing a happy ending by some miracle, letting Hwal live . As I fully expected the 3 main characters to die for a complete reset of the storyline. Somehow Lee Jin Wook catapulted to the top of my "Hotness chart" =) (although Gong Yoo still cannot be dislodged from the top slot). The others have already mentioned cinematography,but the one other thing I liked in this show is the OST, especially that haunting one played during the 1000 years ago scenes.

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Agree about the the soundtrack, especially that piece by 4Men, with the piano lead-in. Also they crafted some pretty eerie music to accompany Lee Joon.

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Oh that piano lead-in... Absolutely perfect.
It makes me cry.

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I really enjoyed this - the writing didn’t bother me that much. And I love the Greek tragedy bit.

Have always thought Lee Joon to be one of the better idol-actors out there and he slayed this totally.

I thought Kwon Nara wasn’t that bad. Actually, I thought Lee Jin Wook’s acting was rather weak…lack depth and his face esp eyes lack expression to me. But I totally agree that the Hwal from 1000 yrs ago was sooo hot!!!

I knew Kim Woo Seok from Produce X101 and I thought he did a better job that I expected.

Oh, one silly thing that bothered me was how they depicted how the world looked like 50 years later. Like nothing changed! And how can the photo not fade or disintegrate? 🤪

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"Oh, one silly thing that bothered me was how they depicted how the world looked like 50 years later. Like nothing changed! And how can the photo not fade or disintegrate? "
Answer: The magic of cinema ;)

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Lee Joon has been a great actor since his career change from singer.
I already thought he was fantastic in Gap-dong 2014 and Heard It Through the Grapevine 2015 but his Ok Eul-tae was...absolutely phenomenal.
He might get nominated for Baeksang this year.

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Yes, he caught my attention in Gap Dong. Was really impressed and was surprised to find out that he was an idol (I’m not into k-pop). Been following his works ever since 🙂

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Thank you missvictrix for the recap. As much as I loved this type of genre I actually lost the plot a few episodes in. Though I still watch each episodes until the end I was watching it at a blur so I really appreciate the reviews to help me process what I'm actually watching :P .....I supposed that the repetitive scenes throughout the show really did it in for me, probably too much of it that I can no longer make sense of the story. In the end you just needed the last 15 mins of the finale to understand the root cause sigh.....

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I loved the reveal that the soul in question is actually Eul-tae's. That was brilliant. I also thought it was so well done how he didn't want the soul or to go back to being human while Hwal and Sung Un were both desperate to be human. I had wondered why the dark hole, but it makes since. Hwal could lose "his" soul but it didn't leave a hole because it wasn't his to begin with. While there were loose threads (and I'm not opposed to some loose threads, because if the story ties up TOO neatly it feels unrealistic or something), I thought they did a great job of bring all the bits and pieces together in the end.
I am also happy to see so many people jumping on the Lee Jin Wook is HOT bandwagon! I fell for his sexy charm back in 2016 when he showed up at a pivotal moment in the movie version of Beauty Inside. Smokin' hot!

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Ooof! A good but twisted tale, although my reaction to Bulgusal likely would have been much better with a different Female lead. Whereas Lee Jin Wook showed his acting talent with those tortured and angry eyes and his fiercely dark brooding presence glowering from his every pore, Kwon Nara couldn't seem to bring many layers to her acting skills. If this was a Director's choice, fine, but it killed my empathy for her. When it came to showing emotions, sad or scared, it seemed like all she could do was make her face 'look' sad or frightened. I never got any of those feelings from the tension in her body or voice, or the way she moved. She just 'looked' her way through this. However, because she was surrounded by other great actors who could carry the emotional weight needed for the series, I was entranced by the intriguing storyline, which pulled me in easily. The karmic thread was fascinating to follow, especially seeing our characters keep re-meeting each other along their fated timeline with each other. Lee Joon's performance is the quintessential example of layered character building. He made me believe in ALL parts of Ok Eul-Tae, the arrogantly powerful but vulnerable monster who ultimately just wanted to be loved. The OST was haunting...the costumes for the FL was wanting...and the many many times we were forced to watch people go off on their own to deal with evil was daunting. Especially our wonderful Detective and our overconfident heroine who always followed Hwal into danger against orders, thinking she would save him, but instead put him in more danger as he protected her. The actress who played the kids' first Mom when the female Bulgasal lived with them is a powerhouse. Lots to like about this drama. Yet, the repetitive kidnappings, our female lead's constant tripping over her ankle and a reliance by the writers on every character falling for Ok Eul-tae's tricks weakened it. As for the ending...yes, a ray of light at the end of a very long tunnel filled with neck gashing. My biggest regret is that our fiercely protective Detective wasn't told earlier that he was Hwal's guardian/father in his lifetimes. Sad. But at least all of our emotional turbulence in this series was rewarded finally when our leads got a chance at new lifetime together.

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A good ending to a messy drama. I don't regret not dropping it, the final explanation alone made up for a lot of the silliness and repetitions. However there are some things I must be forgetting.

Why did Eul-tae kill his family 600 years ago? How could he know that would make Red Bulgasal steal the soul and turn him again into Bulgasal?

The drama could have used so much of that past to explore the future better.

The plain weirdness of Sang-Un could have been explained by the fact she was a Bulgasal with a "stolen" soul. The fact Eul-Tae could always find her easily could have been because of his connection to her. Detective should have known about his previous role as their father. It was crazy when he blamed Hwal for his sister. Hwal should have met them all again several times in many reincarnations, always chasing revenge before this last battle. It would have been epic. This show should have been a 10 eps drama.

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(I see you watching me with those eyes, you got your secret and I got mine) Does anyone know the name of the song or singer🥺🥲 plzzzzz its from (immortal souls)Bulgasal

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If I've ever have any shred of pity or sympathy for Ok Eul-tae, that was thoroughly obliterated the moment we finally got the complete account of the past. This 1.000 years old tragedy would never came to pass if not for him trying to cover the fratricide he committed unprovoked. The massacre that came afterwards, that was an overwhelmingly unintended result of the selfishness of 1 human being.

I couldn't be any more satisfied with the way Eul-tae got to his end. Not just because he finally got his much deserved death after cheating on it for centuries, but also because up until the very end, he still couldn't understand that the world and its occupant has learned to change and let go of the bad past. That in the end, he was the only one clinging to his past goal with the blind ignorance of one who thought power was everything. He deserved all that grievances he carried with him to his death. May he never be reborn again to wreak another hahov in good people's lives.

As expected, this drama delivered its stories the strongest when it explored the character's intertwined past. Maybe it's the gravity of Goryeo era adding weight to the dark folklore that was the barebone of this story. Or maybe it's the brevity of the past that made its characters more vibrant and left a lasting impression. Maybe it's the atmospheric shoot, the brooding mysterious vibe, and the sparse dialogues that created such epic tale. But whatever disappointment I felt for the middle, mdern-world stretch, I'm grateful that this drama knows how to use its best part to open and close this dark fantasy.

As for the ending myself, I'm very much satisfied with it. I already said that "happily ever after" wouldn't suit this drama one bit. I'm happy that the creator didn't pull any of their punches and let this bloody tale has its bloody ending. Despite the high body count, every death was important and served its narrative purposes well. It brought forward story of redemption, forgiveness, regret and love. It tied everything thematically, let the characters stay true to themselves till the very end, and that's not something I'd take for granted from a fantasy drama. (Yes, there are still several questions we never got any answer from, but the detail was negligible in comparison.)

That epilogue was certainly a very nice bonus. Hopeful with a tinge of grief and regret. But it was also rife with possibilities, and that was probably the one thing that made these people the happiest.

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I absolutely loved this drama.

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But why was Ok Eun tae so hell bent on killing Sang un? It wasn't even her who killed his family/father a thousand years ago.

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For me, as usual, this drama delivered. Always amazed at the crafting of the writers. I did enjoy the Greek tragedy ending, necessary, though the "decades" after meeting was not unexpected AND pleasing. I would have been VERY disappointed without that. Hwal being the source of the curse I didn't see coming, and it did explain Hye-Seok's animosity towards him when she was prophesying. One of my favorite parts is when, after the slaughter that started it all, bulgasal Sang-eon found her “sound” voice as she screamed in horror at the devastation around her.

As to plot "holes": As mentioned above, Hwal and Sang-eon were bulgasal who never had souls. Ok Eul-tae was a human who had a soul. When it was ripped out, he became a bulgasal, but the hole left by his soul's removal left the black hole. A bulgasal who never had their own soul would not have a black hole when a "borrowed" soul was removed. Sang-oen's and Ok Eul-tae's entanglement was caused because they "shared" a soul; Sang-eon had Ok's soul. Ok wanted Hwal to crush the soul so, Ok thought, that would a) permanently kill Sang-eon, no reincarnation that he'd have to worry about again, and b) repair the black hole as now there would be no "separated/missing" soul in existence. He would be a “complete” bulgasal without a soul (somewhere). He couldn't destroy his own soul, but Hwal could as it wasn't Hwal's soul. Ok wanted Hwal by his side so as to feel accepted, to be his equal, and to have a bulgasal companion, superior to mere humans.

As to the house surviving for 50 years, Si-ho remained in it until she moved to the old age home, but her daughter, or Do-Yoon or his kids, would have cared for the house and kept it in "the family". Their children might not have understood the house's "history", but given both Si-ho and Do-Yoon had faith that Hwal and Sang-eon would reincarnate and cross paths (with a little help), the house would be cared for as a family heirloom.

Sang-eon reincarnated as the soul was not crushed (destroyed). Hwal reincarnated as fate, God of the Underworld, whatever, gave him that chance as he had atoned for his sin and become human with emotions for others.

I thought Kwon Na-Ra always looked better as a bulgasal than as a human.

My only question would be, at the VERY end, last shot, was the "dinner" photo still in the house, or with Si-ho at the old age home, or just a past flashback to when Si-ho did live there? I assume the house where it would eventually be found by Hwal and Sang-eon.

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I still don’t understand why sung un killed Hwal 600 years ago. What was she trying to do ..? Why ?

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