We have a new favorite power couple in IU & Yeo Jin Goo and are excited to chat about them. Come find out all our chatty thoughts on the first two episodes of Hotel Del Luna!
Just a quick note, our chatty recaps are just that…chatty. This won’t be a traditional recap where every event is documented. Instead we tend to focus on the main points that stood out in our minds. As well as a lot of random facts and comments. So join us as we chat Hotel Del Luna.
Jang Man Wol’s Past
The drama opens with Jang Man Wol (IU) leading a wagon, which seems to be carrying a coffin, through the desert. She is being followed by a band of soldiers searching, I assume, for her. As she stops at a tent for food, we discover that she is searching for Moon Lodge (place of the dead). Man Wol is willing to give everything, even her life, to give peace to those that died because of her. In a surprise twist, this includes all the soldiers that we thought were following her.
Mago, a diety in disguise, informs Man Wol that she has entered the place of her punishment and to take responsibility for her sins. Mago disappears and only a dead tree remains … that is until a hotel is created around Man Wol. Man Wol officially becomes the keeper of Hotel Del Luna (Moon Lodge).
Dramarookie: It’s no secret that I’m not a Sageuk fan so this wasn’t my favorite part. I enjoyed it much more when we jumped ahead to modern times.
Kmuse: I didn’t buy IU as being a super tough warrior. Which is surprising since her more modern version is really tough and I totally buy into that. I think it has to be her having magical powers gives her an edge she doesn’t have when she was living. I, also, was glad when we jumped forward to present time.
MiataMama: I actually enjoyed the brief snapshot of her past, although it left me with a LOT of questions. Maybe more flashbacks will be forthcoming. Also, can I be the realist for a moment? There are no deserts in Korea – zip, zilch, 없어요 (eopseoyo) – so that didn’t fly for me.
Karie the Maknae: I actually got a little excited to see IU as a warrior — I feel like her dramatic range has been increasing with every drama, and I definitely got the feeling that she could pull off the warrior aspect. Time will tell if she can keep it up, but I enjoyed what I saw.
Kdrama Jen: I am a Sageuk fan AND an IU fan, so seeing her swing a sword (even if it didn’t feel super realistic) made me kind of happy. I now want to watch her in a wu xia drama with lots of fight scenes–like a Korean remake of Legend of Fu Yao.
Drama Geek: Kdrama Jen, sign me up for that drama!! I’ve seen lots of desert scenes in the Chinese dramas so maybe she was traversing through ancient China to that magical tree? Who knows. I hope they show more of her backstory so we can understand how she came to be at the hotel with so many kills.
Clkytta: I can totally get behind badass IU as a warrior. She has that quiet strength that I think creates a believability to the role. She’s tired, she’s got a mission, and she’s not letting anyone stand in her way. Also, big waves to Dramarookie! I love when you join us!
Dramarookie: [waves back with both hands]
Can anyone say Beauty and the Beast?
Fast forward to almost present day where we see a con-man/thief along with his young son. It is the young boy’s ( Koo Chan Sung ) birthday and he wants to get his son a present. Surprisingly, his son asks for a flower as his gift. In order to get the present, the father steals a cash
He is then confronted by a super elegantly styled Jang Man Wol who accuses him of stealing. When he explains that he just wanted a gift for his son, she tells him that he is almost dead. If she saves him she will require a boon. That boon is his beloved son as soon as he turns 30. The man agrees and is returned to his body. He also has a nice fat bank account to help him and his son live until Chan Sung starts to work for her.
Dramarookie: I totally got Beauty and the Beast vibes, too! Horror movies are not my thing, so I really appreciate the fairy tale feel that this show has. And Oh Ji Ho did a great job with his cameo as the hapless, but loving father.
Kmuse: One of my favorite things about Hong Sister dramas is they all have a tiny bit of a fairy tale feel to them. This time it isn’t even hidden but is right out there. Hopefully, they will be able to keep the fantasy feel to the very end. I also appreciated that the dad was not a horrible person, and as soon as he realized it wasn’t a hallucination, he frantically searched to undo the deal, since he really does love his son.
MiataMama: Poor Chan Sung, his fate was sealed at young age. However, I liked that his interaction with the flower lady, as well as his dad, showed us his compassionate nature. That consideration for others is going to serve him well in his future employment at the Hotel del Luna.
Karie the Maknae: I loved this quick character sketch of of Chan Sung and his dad — plenty of layers to work with there. And I will always be a fan of a criminal with a heart of gold.
Drama Geek: IU’s character makes me so happy. The Hong Sisters’ dramas usually have a weak female lead, but I love how in control she is, and how she interacted with Chan Seong’s dad. Yes, she extorted something from him, but she saved his life. And it makes a good set up for the son. His life was completely changed because of her.
Kdrama Jen: I also love that about her character, Drama Geek! This is not your typical Hong Sisters leading lady. Nobody is pushing her around. Love it!
Clkytta: I’m afraid to get excited, but this whole setup is exciting. Life is about choices and she is giving him the most important choice for any parent, the chance to raise his child. Yes, she is taking that child in return, but, again, there are choices to be made. Since his father wants to protect him, and he has the funds to raise him well, the father becomes a better man, which makes the son a better man. She’s calculating, but she has an important job and she needs to create some unbreakable bonds.
I think that it would be a tragedy if we didn’t discuss the amazing outfits worn by Jang Man Wol. This is by far one of the most elegant and memorable female characters created by the Hong Sisters. And while a lot of that has to be attributed to IU’s incredible performance, we can’t discount her stunning wardrobe. So lets all pause and look at all these outfits and be green with envy that we can’t pull them off ourselves.
Dramarookie: Oh my word! Her clothes are amazing. Can someone please open an online Man Wol Boutique? It’s interesting that she’s a dirty, bloodthirsty warrior when we first meet her, but her modern wardrobe is super flowy feminine. She wears gloves and hats and all sorts of unnecessary thing that would just get in the way during a battle. Is this her character fulfilling the girlish dreams that she lost? Flashbacks have showed us something tragic and typically Sageuky happened to her family. Are they a reflection of who she truly is or who she wanted to be?
Kmuse: Her wardrobe is almost like the modern version of armor. She is not a person that someone is going to go and try to befriend or pick up. Man Wol exudes power and arrogance and is not to be bothered. Chan Sung is the only person who doesn’t seem to realize that she is scary.
MiataMama: I love the classic elegance of her clothing choices – she looks stunning!
Karie the Maknae: I was thinking about her wardrobe and how it has some Victorian details to it — the high collars and cameo necklaces, specifically. She’s taken older styles and turned them into something modern and very much her own. I get the feeling that it’s a reflection of her character.
Kdrama Jen: Totally with you, Maknae! Her wardrobe choices just make her feel like she has stepped out of the pages of history, yet in some ways is very modern. I think this is an artistic touch that really helps tell the story of IU’s character. She is also between two worlds.
Drama Geek: Okay, it cannot go without saying that she is stunning in every scene and I kind of have a huge crush on her. Her outfits speak for her most of the
Clkytta: I love her clothing choices. Her clothing is still her armor, she has a look but don’t touch vibe to her. I also have a huge girl crush on her. Who else but IU could look so beautifully innocent one minute and like she’s going to flay you alive the next?
Someone’s grown up really well
I know that for the majority of The Fangirls, the casting of Yeo Jin Goo is why we are watching this. That boy has grown up really really well, and when he gets a good character to portray, magic occurs. And not only is Chan Sung a great character for him to portray, but he manages to have amazing chemistry with IU as well.
Man Wol and Chan Sung have sparks from the get-go. Scene after scene has them sizzling with chemistry and it makes us so happy. Whether it is them eating in various restaurants (how hilarious is it that Man Wol is a Fangirl of a foodie?) or fighting on the streets over Chan Sung’s employment, we get scene after scene of pure awesomeness.
Dramarookie: I’ve noticed in Korean variety shows how they like to point out when people look well together. This definitely applies to these two. Their height and visuals match like a doll set.
Kmuse: I even said this back when they were first cast for this project, their visuals together are AMAZING. Thankfully, there is also a ton of chemistry there as well so it isn’t just a one-dimensional sizzle.
MiataMama: I don’t necessarily focus on whether the visuals of the OTP are compatible, but it was seriously the first thing that jumped out at me when I first saw these two paired as the leads. And yeay, we already have fabulous chemistry too!
Karie the Maknae: These two play off of each other very, very well — they’re a delight to watch. Oddly, I don’t necessarily want to see this drama turn into a romance.
Kdrama Jen: What? How can we waste this chemistry! I want kisses and skinship. You just keep your dreams of a platonic ghost story to yourself, Maknae. Baby Oppa deserves some IU love!
Drama Geek: Yeo Jin Goo is doing the physical comedy so well in this drama. When he ran around with the luggage it was hilarious. He sizzles with IU and they are such a gorgeous aesthetic pair.
I see dead people
Given as a birthday “gift”, Chan Sung now has the ability to see the ghosts that surround him. Which isn’t the birthday gift he would have asked for if given a choice. It makes living his life and working at a
Dramarookie: Yeo Jin Goo embraces the funny. He screams in terror and runs like a scaredy cat and even loses his shoe like Cinderella to carry on the fairy tale theme. So cute.
Kmuse: I love that Man Wol uses the excuse of possessed shoes to get him a new pair. I have to say I really like her taste in men’s shoe-wear.
MiataMama: I was screaming right alongside Chan Sung as began to be confronted by ghosts. I knew this was a drama about ghosts, but somehow I forgot that I don’t actually like ghost dramas! This is definitely NOT a show I will be watching before bed.
Karie the Maknae: I’m not really connecting with Chan Sung’s terror here. I think I’m just waiting for him to start dealing with them with a world-weary, EXTREMELY patient attitude. That always tickles my funny bone.
Drama Geek: I totally didn’t like the shoes she picked for him. LOL. I think
Clkytta: I like the ghosts. It’s got a Master’s Sun feel and I liked that drama a lot. I don’t do scary, but this isn’t scary to me. I like that their job is to help spirits resolved their injustices. It’s not always pretty, but they serve a purpose for “healing”.
Kdrama Jen: Clkytta, I totally felt the Master’s Sun vibe too. It is just hilarious that she is playing the part of the cold CEO!
Misunderstood Man Wol
Man Wol has slowly been developing character layers through the first two episodes. Her interaction with the ghosts (especially the cop ghost and the tiger), her coworkers, and Chan Sung paint a picture of strong yet lonely woman. I can’t wait to see her character evolve some more as the drama progresses.
Dramarookie: The tiger storyline was so sad. Man Wol can relate to its longing since she too comes from a place to which she can’t return.
Kmuse: One of the moments that struck me the most was seeing Man Wol’s last employee leave a photo of her on the wall to represent his time at the hotel. We realize that Man Wol has been alone for hundreds of years and those photos represent the only living people that she interacted with and their eventual deaths. It made me sad for her.
MiataMama: While most people would love the chance to never age and and live forever, it is clear that that sort of existence is extremely lonely and isolating. At first I thought her callous in her dismissal of Chan Sung’s predecessor. But then I realized she was guarding her heart from the pain of having to say goodbye and being ‘left behind’ yet again.
Karie the Maknae: I’m impressed with the director’s ability to give us such a deep feeling of time passing through the little touches like the gallery and the devoted employee who loved her as his younger sister, his daughter, and his granddaughter. It reminds me of Goblin and his generations-long relationships with his human stewards.
Drama Geek: I’m most drawn to Man Wol’s story and I want to see the layers peel away so that we can truly understand how she got to the hotel
Clkytta: I need to know more about why she carries this burden. What did she do? She is in limbo, she’s not dead, but she’s not really living either, regardless of all the good food and drinks she loads
Kdrama Jen: IU has managed to completely draw me in. I care about her story the most and I want to know why she is here and what she needs to do to move on. Please let it be that she needs to make a human fall in love with her—or something that will require angsty shower scene and longing stares!
Chan Sung…the damsel in distress
There was one scene at the end of the episode that really stood out. We learn that there are malevolent spirits that also roam the world. And one happens to live at Chan Sung’s hotel. He is chased by the ghost of a warrior and just as he is about to be cleaved in half, Man Wol comes forward in all her bad-donkey glory and kicks the ghost’s butt.
Dramarookie: I guess she’s the knight-in-shining-armor in this fairy tale.
Kmuse: This is what I was talking about back in section #1. I totally believe that this version of Man Wol is tough and can kill any bad person, spirit or otherwise, with no problem. One of my favorite moments of the week.
MiataMama: Once a warrior, always a warrior. I totally loved watching her swoop in to rescue Chan Sung – 대박 (daebak)!
Karie the Maknae: I loved it when she twirled her hair pin between her fingers right before she plunged it into the ghost warrior’s neck. The cinematography throughout this series has been incredibly gorgeous and deep.
Kdrama Jen: IU is the tsundere prince with a checkered past, and I seriously can’t get enough of her. SHE is making me swoon. I am
Clkytta: She had me at the deadly hair pin. She is not someone to underestimate. I agree with the rest of the fangirls, she’s making me swoon!
Dramarookie: The Hong Sisters also wrote the ghost drama Master’s Sun which had great chemistry and a clever storyline, but there is something about this new story I like better. Spooky is okay, but too much horror doesn’t appeal to me. In this case, there’s a bittersweet thread that runs from the past, giving it higher stakes. They keep showing IU standing in flashback next to a man whose face is yet to be revealed. Will Yoon Jin Goo play this character as well? Unrequited love stories and all those gorgeous costumes lend this drama a storybook feel. Who doesn’t love Once-upon-a-Times!
Kmuse: I am very impressed with how strong and well structured the female character is so far. That is something that I find lacking in a bunch of the Hong Sisters’ dramas. Now if they can just keep this momentum going to the very end, I will be a happy viewer.
MiataMama: I’m just hoping that the jump scares will be kept to a minimum in future episodes! The visuals are gorgeous and the plot interesting thus far. However, the Hong Sisters sometimes have an issue with story endings (both Big and Hwayugi disappointed me), so fingers crossed that this drama will finish out strong.
Kdrama Jen: Boo! (Sorry. I felt compelled to throw in a jump scare.) 😉
Karie the Maknae: The visuals are gorgeous and the characters are strong and layered, which makes me happy with any story. However, there’s a lack of story arc to tie us from the beginning to the end, aside from some too-brief hints to Mal Wong’s past. I assume that we’ll get more in the next couple of episodes, but for the moment, I’m not feeling compelled to watch.
Clkytta: What? Maknae! It’s all developing and there’s a major hook! You gotta watch with us! Peer pressure!! I love the whole idea that maybe now it’s time for her clock to start back and for her to start living again. Maybe she can finally atone for her sins (though I’m not exactly sure what they are because I don’t think she directly killed all the people in the coffin). I’m excited for more from this story.
Kdrama Jen: I too am shocked and dismayed, Clkytta! We must band together and spam Maknae with pictures until she agrees to fangirl with us to the end. (Clkytta: Maknae, you don’t stand a chance!) I do believe the story will slowly unfold, and in the meantime, there is just so much pretty!
Til our next deadly encounter,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi