Last week we focused on the bridge to the afterlife, but this week it’s really all about Hotel Del Luna and those that inhabit her. Was it 1,300 years of Man Wol stuck in a prison, or could it have been a very long therapy session sponsored by a bunch of nosy sisters?
Same OTP, Different Century
It seems Ma Go is cooking up some wine, and it’s a very special batch. It’s the same wine that Man Wol drank before she became the new owner of the hotel. Ma Go is all out of a special moon flower, and she has only one person in mind to retrieve it for her. She summons Chan Sung to tell him how to get this moon flower, and magically sends him back in time to harvest it. She warns Chan Sung that if he were to eat or drink anything while he’s there, he won’t be able to return.
Of course the flower blooms next to the hotel where our missing hero’s past self is gambling away her money, and just so happens to need a firm hand to keep her in check. They bicker, just like they do in the present. Chan Sung manages to get her to stop gambling, by winning a game of Go with another version of Ma Go. He’s tempted to stay behind and live out his life with this earlier version of Man Wol, but instead draws her a map of all the tasty places she’ll one day want to eat, and tells her to do that instead of gambling.
Karie the Maknae: It was interesting to see the hotel in its earlier stages, and amusing to see that Man Wol had a different vice that she had a very difficult time letting go of.
Kmuse: So…I was not a fan of the time travel story arc. It felt like they needed to stretch for time so they threw this in. That said, I did enjoy how Chan Sung got Man Wol started on her food hobby, as well as having the chance to return to the present or stay with the past Man Wol. It was a strong moment in what else felt like filler.
Drama Geek: I do agree with Kmuse that it was mostly filler, but it served a purpose and I thought they kept it short, and I liked how her decision to not drink the wine later echoed his decision here.
Clkytta: Nothing says we’ve maxed out our ideas quite like a last-minute trip around the tree to visit the past. So much filler; I kind of liked Man Wol the gambler. This Man Wol seemed less jaded somehow, so I can see that Chan Sung would have been tempted to stay with her. As usual, he doesn’t do what he wants, he goes back because he needs to support the Man Wol of the future when she returns. Seriously, I bet Gambler Man Wol would have loosened him up a little.
MiataMama: I’m sucker for time-travel, so I actually liked the quick errand to the past. It was a fun diversion and left me pondering how the future might have changed, had Chan Sung opted to stay in the past.
Kdrama Jen: I loved seeing how Chan Sung used baduk to outsmart the gods. It was filler, but it also gave us a chance to see how he could have chosen just to stay there, but for Man Wol’s sake he returned. It also was another opportunity for us to see the smart side of Chan Sung. Plus, IU was stunning in hanbok!
Man Wol Returns
After Chan Sung makes the decision to possibly live without Man Wol, and returns to the present, he’s blessed with the news that everyone’s favorite boss has returned. They all greet her at the tunnel, and the group hug is super touching.
Even though she was able to remember Chan Sung and return, they all still know her time is running out. The wine is for the next owner, and when the hotel disappears, Man Wol will too.
Karie the Maknae: Ah, my hopes for an ending with Historic Hottie were dashed. Still, it was good to see the Hotel Family together again.
Kmuse: Anticlimactic since we all knew she was coming back.
Drama Geek: We knew she was coming back, but I loved that they used it to show how much everyone really does love Man Wol and how much of a little family they are.
Clkytta: Let’s be honest here. They all missed Man Wol, but everyone is still worried about the endings to their own story. Man Wol has to come back or no one’s story gets resolved and they all know that.
MiataMama: I thought it was interesting how everyone just assumed that the most recent memories would be the first to disappear when crossing the after-life bridge. Guess that’s not how it works though – her memories with Chan Sung remain intact and poor Historic Ex is now forgotten.
Kdrama Jen: I am on Team Group Hug!
Proof We Were Here
Man Wol takes out an old camera and tells Chan Sung that all the pictures on the wall were taken with it. She never had any of the staff in the photos because it was too hard when traces of them lingered after they departed. Chan Sung says since this will be her last photo, they should all be in it. They gather together like the cute little family they are, and ham it up.
Karie the Maknae: This was another fun sequence too. I wish they could have gotten it closer to the group photo they use to promote the series, but I can see why they didn’t. I just wanna know more about the ghost hand in the original photo!!
Kmuse: This was my favorite scene of the week. It was so heartwarming to witness all of them coming together after their separation.
Drama Geek: The only thing that makes me sad is that the family portrait disappeared in the end, leaving no tangible trace that they existed. I would have loved for Chan Sung to somehow end up with it.
Clkytta: So they have this great family picture, but no Intern? Poor Intern gets shoved out of the way this whole episode. I’m not a total grump about this, well, I sorta am, but only because this little family was also a family for Intern.
MiataMama: I love family photos and am glad they captured one final memory together before everything disappeared. But I’m with you, Clkytta! Intern was just as new to the family as Chan Sung – she should have been able to join the family photo session too.
Kdrama Jen: I like that there was closure. All of the managers through time had one final picture. I think it was fitting that they took one together.
The Not So Perverted Scholar
A best selling author joins the hotel, and he just so happens to have written a book about a certain Joseon scholar who was stripped of his first place exam title because it was discovered that he’d written salacious stories. Scholar Kim about passes out from nervousness as the writer talks, and then disappears.
Of course, he ends up being the disgraced scholar from the story, but it turns out he wasn’t really writing anything that would require an X rating. He is actually the person behind a set of very famous stories where the author had always been a mystery.
Man Wol will not stand for her favorite bartender to be scandalized again so she marches to the publishing company, and with Chan Sung’s help, they manage to get the manuscript back before it’s published. Then they convince the author to rewrite the novel and clean up Scholar Kim’s name.
Karie the Maknae: I absolutely adored this story. We got to see another side of Scholar Kim, and the look of peace on his face when he went through the tunnel made me tear up.
Kmuse: I agree that his peace at the end was heartwarming.
Drama Geek: I love that they connected him with real anonymous Korean stories. I loved his relationship with Room Manager Choi and I kind of wish they’d left together.
Clkytta: Scholar was able to go peacefully and that made me happy. He deserved to have his name cleared and that was really satisfying.
MiataMama: Scholar’s narrative was always on the back burner throughout the drama, so I was glad when they finally revealed his whole backstory. His serene departure was equally satisfying.
Kdrama Jen: The way Man Wol came back and just sobbed was heartbreaking. I love that he was dignified and at peace. This brought me a sense of closure, and I am happy with his ending.
Bellhop’s Traitorous Friend
Intern is determined to help her sweetheart out, and inadvertently brings his killer into the hotel. She thinks the old friend who assumed his name did it to take care of the sister, but the truth is, of course, not that simple. The old man and Bellhop had been friends in high school, but the friend deserted during the war, and happened upon Bellhop. All the friend could think about is being reported and they struggled with the gun he carried, and Bellhop was shot. Before he died, he managed to ask the friend to take care of his sister. She’d been injured during an enemy attack, and couldn’t see. So when the friend took care of her, she didn’t know it was not her brother.
In repentance, the friend had taken care of the sister, and with the wealth he acquired, tried to do good deeds. Man Wol convinces him that as a final gesture, he should buy Bellhop’s old school and donate it to the hotel in his name. This allows them to do an honorary ceremony where Bellhop gets his diploma, with the hotel guests and staff in attendance.
Karie the Maknae: I was glad to get the resolution to Bellhop’s story. I wish there had been more buildup to him actually wanting to earn the diploma, but it will still a happy moment to see him receive it and see all the ghosts from the hotel cheering him on. The best friend who killed him was a great conflicted character, as well.
Kmuse: This story arc was perfectly executed and the circumstances that led to Bellhop’s death were tragic. Add in the complex justice of the friend atoning for his mistakes, and you have a tale that resonated.
Drama Geek: Bellhop’s story was so sad. He had to watch this man live his life, taking care of his beloved sister, while knowing that he was the reason they were separated to begin with. It was so sweet when her younger self joined him at the hotel and into the afterlife.
Clkytta: Bellhop’s story was really sad. I have to agree with Karie that it would have been nice to see where he was upset about not getting his diploma. I liked Man Wol’s original idea of letting the siblings play in the park before they got in the limo to the afterlife, and I was disappointed that they didn’t do that. I did like that he was supported at graduation by his friends and the hotel visitors.
MiataMama: I loved Bellhop. His tragic story left me in tears. And I continued sobbing my way through all his remaining scenes. Even the completely incongruous diploma ceremony. . . because I’m sappy like that.
Kdrama Jen: Throughout this drama Bellhop continually reminded Intern about the importance of going to school. I guess I disagree with both the Maknae and MiataMama because I felt like they made it very clear that Bellhop longed for this kind of experience. Therefore, I was very moved when he received his diploma and everyone was there to cheer him on!
Room Manager Choi lingers outside the pharmacy where the pregnant woman works and the two have a conversation where the woman explains to her that no matter what gender the baby is, she’s not giving it the father’s name. The child will be of her blood, and carry her bloodline’s name.
Karie the Maknae: I hadn’t considered that solution to Room Manager Choi’s grudge, but it makes sense. Good closure there.
Kmuse: I wasn’t very invested in this story. Glad it turned out well.
Drama Geek: I wasn’t sure how they’d end Choi’s story, and I’m glad they were able to give her resolution and make her see a different perspective.
Clkytta: I was really pleased with this resolution. We all knew that Room Manager would have never been allowed to make that choice in her time due to her crazy in-laws. I felt like she had a lot of peace when the girlfriend told her so
MiataMama: I may have shed some more tears as we revisited Room Manager’s story this week. I’m glad she was able to talk with the pharmacist and reconcile her grievances before departing.
Kdrama Jen: I am so glad she made peace with her pain and found some resolution.
Please Don’t Go
With each member of the hotel finding peace, we’re forced to go through saying goodbye to each of them. Scholar Kim goes first, and before he departs, he gives each of them a cocktail of his famous tears. Man Wol doesn’t want to drink it, but when she reads his departing words, she takes a sip and breaks down in tears.
Intern tries to stop Bellhop from having to leave. She steals the wine from Ma Go and gives it to Man Wol. But she makes a similar decision that Chan Sung had earlier in the episode. She pours the wine out, and chooses to let everything play out so that she’s no longer in a state of suspended being, while the rest of the people she knows live and die.
With the closing of the hotel imminent, and the Bellhop finding resolution with his friend, the last piece falls into place. It’s time for him to welcome his final guest, his sister. Once again, Intern tries to find a way to not say goodbye, begging Ma Go to let her separate from her body, and go with him. Alas, Ma Go does not grant her wish, and Intern runs to say goodbye just in time.
Karie the Maknae: I loved Intern and Bellhop’s love line, and while I’m sad they had to be parted, I loved how they ended it. It was a sad love, but that was the kind of love Intern needed to shelter her as she started her new life, and it helped her grow.
Kmuse: I’m glad they got to say goodbye and Intern didn’t go with him. Especially when we know that they would just be separated by a loss of memory at the end of the bridge.
Drama Geek: I was happy that they acknowledged she’s still a teenager with a second chance at life. She found Bellhop during a time when she needed help finding her way, and he did that for her, and now she can go out into the world and flourish. He died young; it would have been sad if she did the same because of him.
Clkytta: I’m not in agreement with my kbesties. I felt like poor Intern got shafted in the resolution. Through this whole episode, her story was the only one that made me cry. I am not a fan of tragic romances at all.
MiataMama: More crying. Not the ending I wanted. Sigh.
Kdrama Jen: I loved the Bellhop, and I think it was fitting that he waited for his sister. It made my heart happy that she returned to the little girl he knew. I also think this was a bittersweet ending, but I think he would want Intern to live a full life.
This Drama Has the Best HUGS
The hotel is empty, with only Room Manger Choi and our OTP. At the tunnel to the afterlife, they tearfully remember what it was like when Man Wol found Lady Choi as a ghost and asked her to work for her. We come full circle and realize that Choi lost her baby girl, and gained a handful of a daughter in Man Wol. The younger requests a hug before Choi leaves, and the older woman tells her she wanted to comfort her this way throughout the time they spent together. Okay, I’m not crying, it’s totally you!
Karie the Maknae: I loved the sweet acknowledgement of these two strong ladies’ deep friendship. They were so respectful and protective of each other!
Kmuse: I wish we had more of this friendship earlier in the story. I feel that we went on way too long with Man Wol being separated from her employees with her cold façade.
Drama Geek: I wish we’d had more moments with the all of them and Man Wol. I think they did push the colder boss for too long. But in the end, I appreciated how much they all loved and took care of one another.
Clkytta: Manager Choi was a lot like Man Wol. They both had deep harbored resentments and had built up some serious walls to keep people out. I think if either one would have shown any affection to the other before this, they both would have cracked. So the final hug between the two was very tender and bittersweet.
MiataMama: I guess I was the only one not really moved by this hug. . .
Kdrama Jen: I am not just Team Group Hug, but Team Hug in general!
Until the Next Life
Man Wol becomes very tired after everyone has departed. Chan Sung carries her up to her room, and they fall asleep in one another’s arms. Chan Sung dreams a final time about the past, and realizes that he did know Man Wol before. Together with his dad, they’d found her as a little girl on the side of the road, near death. They’d saved her that day, and he’d been the one to first draw the moon symbol on her palm.
It’s finally time for her to enter the tunnel. The hotel, and everything in it, disappears. They tearfully say their goodbyes. Chan Sung remains pretty stoic through most of it, but does break down. They promise each other to meet each other in the next life, and make sure to be together properly.
Chan Sung packs up to move to New York, and sees Intern one final time. He’d given her the medicine so she no longer sees ghosts and she’s able to live a normal life, while Chan Sung keeps his ghostly sight. He visits the painting that once held the tiger, and gazes at it while imaging a time that looks like it could be the future. We see each of the hotel staff as possible reincarnations of themselves, and Chan Sung sits on a bench waiting. Man Wol joins him, and he tells her it was sooner than he expected.
Karie the Maknae: The sense of resolution that came from this sequence surprised me. Normally I get frustrated if there isn’t a concrete depiction of the promised future, but for this story, that wasn’t possible. What we got works, and it felt very satisfying.
Kmuse: With all my many issues with this drama, I felt the end scene was very strong and I 100% approve on how they concluded the story. The idea that they will meet in a future life and have their happy ever after felt more realistic than if the gods had magically fixed all the problems and let Man Wol stay. This might be the strongest ending to a Hong Sister drama yet.
Drama Geek: I’m with the other Fangirls. We always hope for a happy ending, but this one fit with the story and what the theme of the drama. They all needed a fresh start in their next life, and any fast fix would have stopped that from happening.
Clkytta: I’m not sure they could have had a stronger ending. It looks like everyone has a second chance on life and they all seem content, so that’s good. I was mad that Intern was left behind, but at least she’s not seeing ghosts now.
MiataMama: Reincarnation as a happy ending has never worked for me. I would have been happier with a miracle from the gods. But it seems I’m in the minority on that. At least this ending was tied up more conclusively than Hwayugi, so for that I’m thankful.
Kdrama Jen: I like that we are left with some possibilities.
STAY FOR THE CREDITS:
As a bonus scene after the credits we finally see who the new owner of the hotel is. It’s a cameo from Kim Soo Hyun, and dang, he’s so sexy in those few seconds he graces the screen. His hotel is full of dark tones and rock music. He swaggers up the stairs with a whiskey in hand and welcomes everyone to Hotel Blue Moon.
Karie the Maknae: I’m not sure I’d be on board for a sequel, but Kim Soo Hyun with his Rat Pack vibe would definitely make me think about it more than once!
Kmuse: Such a fun cameo.
Drama Geek: I NEED a Kim Soo Hyun drama, stat!!
Clkytta: This was an awesome cameo!
MiataMama: When do we get to see more of Kim Soo Hyun?!?!
Kdrama Jen: Back from the military and looking FINE! I would watch the HECK out of this drama.
Drama Geek: While not perfect, I liked that Luna focused on each characters’ redemption or them being able to find peace. When Chan Sung met them, they were already dead. The goal for them was to leave without being consumed by whatever tethered them to the land of the living to begin with. Man Wol had already started her healing process long before Chan Sung showed up. The ghosts she’d taken in, and made a part of her staff, were the first pieces to her finding herself again. It just took some meddling from a few sisters to bring about her final transformation. I grew to love and cherish each character, and when it was time to say goodbye, it was very bittersweet. I don’t know who they’ll end up in the then next life, hopefully not a tasty pig or a sad firefly. But I’ll keep my eye out for anyone running around dressed to the nines, because you know she’s taking the wardrobe with her when she leaves.
Karie the Maknae: There were so many times when I wanted to give up on this drama. The distinct lack of chemistry between the OTP killed most of the draw for me. HOWEVER, the extraordinary cast of secondary characters, the unusual ghost stories, and IU’s killer wardrobe — and her killer acting ability — kept me hooked. Like Drama Geek already said, the resolution to each character’s story arc was beautifully handled, and I loved seeing the growth in all of them. Would I watch it again? I don’t know. Would I recommend it? I don’t know. I’m glad I had the experience and that is all I know.
Kmuse: There were a lot of strong aspects to this drama. Sadly, for me, there were an equal amount of things that annoyed me. The romance just didn’t settle for me and a lot of the other story arcs were up and down which gave it an uneven pacing. This isn’t a bad drama but it isn’t one that I will bother re-watching either.
Clkytta: I had really high hopes starting this drama and they never came to fruition. While I loved the side characters and felt like they had very well developed stories, I never connected with our OTP. I felt like I was watching a different drama than some of my kbesties because I never saw any depth to the Chan Sung character. His character felt more like a plot device meant to move the Man Wol character forward and that frustrated me. He was the perfect host and hospitality manager, he faded into the background (did we ever see him not in a suit?). I am rewatching this drama with my cousin, but so far my feelings haven’t changed and it’s not going on my personal rewatch list.
MiataMama: I’m so glad I’m done with this drama! Honestly, if I hadn’t committed to doing the weekly recaps with my Kbesties, I probably would have dropped it early on. I’ve noticed a trend with my drama watching this year – if I’m really hyped about an upcoming show, it never seems to live up to my expectations. And sadly, Hotel Del Luna fell into that category. It had so many things going for it (unique storyline, amazing cast, A+ production quality). But I just couldn’t connect with the main story arc and was only invested in a couple of the supporting characters. Oh well . . . on to the next drama!
Kdrama Jen: I don’t think this was ever intended to be a romantic drama. This was a drama all about healing. From that perspective, I think it was powerful and all of the storylines make sense. I do not think Man Wol and Chan Sung were ever meant to have an epic and steamy romance. This was about rediscovering love, self-forgiveness, and new beginnings. I am satisfied with this ending, and I think it may go down as my favorite Hong Sisters drama. (Karie the Maknae: A healing drama!! That makes EVERYTHING make more sense. I like that perspective.)
Until the next life,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi