First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Karie the Maknae and I volunteered to take one for the team with the new fantasy drama Mystic Pop-Up Bar. We both share a love for the adorable idol actor, Yook Sung Jae, and also ‘Hwarang Dad’, Choi Won Young. So we were willing to brave the probable loud and screechy acting from Hwang Jung Eum. Would the story outweigh our varying degrees of dislike for the female lead? Come find out if we decided to drop this drama or stick it out!

A Quick Synopsis

Based on a webtoon of the same name, Mystic Pop-Up Bar follows a mysterious pop-up bar owner, Weol Joo. Working alongside her is the otherworldly spirit-manager, Chief Gwi, and the sweet and naive part-timer, Han Kang Bae. Together talk and share a drink with customers. Upon entering the dreams of those who are troubled, they are able to help bring about resolution to their problems.

Let Me Tell You A Story. . .

MiataMama: I’m not sure what I was expecting with this story, but it wasn’t the roller coaster of feels that side-swiped me! Serious social issues, slap-stick laughs, heart-wrenching sorrow, tender camaraderie. . . my emotions ran the gamut in just the first two hours. I’m enjoying the newly-formed partnership of this bar cart crew and am looking forward to seeing how they tackle their patron’s problems each episode. 

Karie the Maknae: I love the merry band of misfits trope to PIECES, so the first episode was more delightful than I was expecting it to be. The second episode, though — that about did me in. There was a lot of all-too-human emotions driving the story, but in a way that made sense and tugged at my heart. My favorite part was the fact that various characters stepped up when they needed to, and it looks like that will be a continuing theme throughout the show.

The Mystical Crew

MiataMama: Is Hwang Jung Eum her usual over-top-self? Well, yes. But thankfully, it kind of works with her portrayal of Weol Joo. She is angry and snappish, but with due reason. Hopefully, these final steps on her path to atonement will see her soften up some?!

Karie the Maknae: I have a weird tolerance for Jung Eum because of Kill Me Heal Me. I *know* she is capable of being serious when she’s not screeching, but the screeching potential definitely put me off of her last drama (The Undateables). From what I’d seen of the Mystic Pop-Up Bar trailers, though, it looked like the screechiness was skipped. To my unending satisfaction, it was! She seems well-suited to the role of a long-lived quasi-ghost with crankiness issues.

MiataMama: Choi Won Young has been in many dramas and I’ve enjoyed watching him in each one thus far. As Chief Gwi, his mix of humor and patient guidance to those in his charge has me enamored yet again. I especially loved the basketball scene with Kang Bae – such a poignant and sweet moment. 

Karie the Maknae: I have loved Choi Won Young since Hwarang! I recently finished Twenty Again, in which he plays a cheating scumbag, so I was hoping that Mystic Pop-Up Bar would be a good palate-cleanser. Thankfully, this is the case. I love that he’s essentially a snarky fairy.

MiataMama: It was a bittersweet moment when I found out that Yook Sung Jae enlisted for his military service right as this new drama began airing. I am loving his character, Han Kang Bae – he is equal parts innocent, earnest, and lonely. Fingers crossed that he finds the resolution he’s seeking and gets his happy ending. I just want this sweet puppy to be happy!

Karie the Maknae: Yook Sung Jae is/was adorable in the early episodes of Master in the House that I watched, and I absolutely adored him in Goblin, where he showed he was capable of good range. I’m expecting his bumbling little lamb self to grow and change and be wonderful in this drama.

Did It Make The Cut?

MiataMama: Maybe it’s because this drama is based on a completed webtoon, but I’m really liking the pacing and the scope of the story arc so far. A few of my fellow fangirls were concerned about a romantic pairing between Hwang Jung Eum and Yook Sung Jae. Since I’m not a fan of noona-romances, I too was anxious about this aspect. But, based on what I’ve seen so far, I don’t really see the story taking that sort of turn. Hopefully, the emphasis will remain on teamwork, personal growth, and friendships! And finally, I must hunt down the opening credits song – it’s so delightfully quirky and whimsical – I need to add it to my OST playlist!!

Karie the Maknae: I’m so glad to know this is based on a COMPLETED webtoon — perhaps the ending won’t suck. I don’t think the romance is going to be strong in this one, and I definitely don’t think the loveline will be between Jung Eum and Sung Jae. Honestly, this seems to be shaping up to be a snarky fantasy with strong stories in each episode. I’m looking forward to it! (I did NOT think I would be saying that about a Hwang Jung Eum drama.)

How about you drama fans – have you given Mystic Pop-Up Bar a try yet? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until the next drama,


MiataMama & Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

8 thoughts on “First Impressions and Unfiltered Thoughts: Mystic Pop-Up Bar

  1. I’ve never had any positive/negative thoughts about the actress but I started this reluctantly nevertheless. However, I have been enjoying it very much. I love the backstory, their relationships and even the different people’s stories in each episode. Though this show very much reminds me of Hotel Del Luna, somehow I think I’m enjoying this one better. It’s a shame it’s only 12 episodes (I think).

    • You’re right — it does have a strong Hotel Del Luna feel. And I guess we’ll have to see if 12 episodes leaves us wishing for more, or if it’s just enough!

    • Twelve episodes was the perfect length for the story to conclude well – however, I had a hard time saying goodbye to all our characters. I will miss them all!!!

  2. I thought as well that Mystic Pop-Up Bar resembled somehow HDL, but I love the things it differs in way more than the similarities: can we please talk about the GENIALITY of the Olympics for the lottery numbers? That’s some new level of creativity we have here.
    I was sold at episode 1, I ship way more than I should the Weol Joo-Chief Gwi couple and it’s a torture to wait for new episodes each week.

  3. I love this, but have been waiting for more episodes. I am still confused why they aged the actress from the Joseon era to the modern era, but hey, what do I know.

    • I don’t know why either, but it kind of makes sense. Just like how the characters in Goblin were aged forward from the Goryeo era — maybe it shows that they’re different people now?

Leave a Reply