Stand-Off In The Woods
Episode 8 of Bulgasal: Immortal Souls begins with Hwal and Sang-Un talking. The latter opens up and admits she wants a normal life with Si-Ho, determined to break free from the shackles of Bulgasal and Eul-Tae. That normal life though, looks like a very improbable option now.
Hwal tells her to stop trying to evoke sympathy from him. “I’m sorry for everything I’ve done.” Sang-Un soon says. She knows it doesn’t make amends for what happened in her past lives but it’s at least something – and that seems to be gratefully received by Hwal. Even if he doesn’t outwardly show it.
Back home, Hwal looks at his house and notices Hye-Suk is not acting herself. With the fire burning on the stove, she suddenly stands up, telling Hwal that everyone will die, bleeding from every orifice. Of course, that’s certainly greeted by unnerving and worried glances. Even more so when Hye-Suk suddenly snaps out of this and returns to her usual bubbly self.
Detective Kwon stops by with some beef. He also has a photo, which he shows Sang-Un and Hwal in confidence. This happens to be an archived photo of Eul-Tae. It turns out he actually changes his identity every 30 years or so and went by a previous name (Ok Sang-Yeong) back then.
As he continues on, mentioning his ties with influential men, Hwal is furious and calls him out for being reckless. “No human can catch Bulgasal!” He warns. Sang-un though, reassures him that they’re going to try and kill Bulgasal.
When Detective Kwon leaves, Hwal follows. The pair sit and drink together, with Hwal opening up about his father and how good he was to him. In return, Kwon opens up about his past. Specifically he talks about the past case 15 years back involving Bulgasal.
The man he initially thought was responsible for the murders commit suicide, which closed the case. The thing is, Kwon couldn’t let it go. So in his place one day, Lee Su-Gyeong, a junior, investigated and arrived at the deceased’s house. She was found hanged, chalked up as a suicide with a message to her husband to confirm as much.
Kwon though is convinced that Eul-Tae is behind this, which is partly why he’s so fixated on finding him. This is only compounded further by the fact Su-Gyeong killed herself three days before her birthday. When Hwal sees a picture of the family, he recognizes her husband and immediately questions who he is.
Back at the house, Si-Ho reveals to her sister about the strange happenings that have occurred in her absence. Specifically how she saw Hye-Suk’s past memories. She saw echoes of her life in the Joseon period and believes she may have a gift. Si-Ho wants to use that gift on Sang-Un, but she convinces her sister not to.
That night, when Hwal returns, he discusses Si-Ho’s gift and the prophecy, that involving Bulgasal which has led them all the way here. It seems Hye-Suk’s prophetic message about them all dying may actually be referencing Sang-Un, especially if she retrieves her memories from her past lives.
That night, Hwal tracks down Se-Gyeung’s husband and decides to take him home. He’s a drunken mess and clearly still grief-stricken over his deceased wife. Unfortunately this is only made worse when Hwal learns his son is there, head down and succumbing to his father’s wishes.
When Hwal witnesses this child being berated and abused by his dad, it brings back all sorts of memories from his past, given he shoved Hwal away. Hwal’s impassioned speech says as much, eventually looking at the man with disdain and calling him out for being a complete mess.
As Hwal walks away, anger coursing through his veins, he smashes a soju bottle with one hand, clenching his fist. In doing so though, he ends up bloodying his knuckles.
Still angry, he takes that anger out on Sang-Un when he returns home. He calls out Sang-Un’s old form and threatens her. The thing is, he does all of this in view of Si-Ho, who shows up and questions what’s going on. it’s here Sang-Un opens up and admits that she used to be Bulgasal in a past life. Si-Ho questions her resolve though, causing Hwal to leave in the middle of the night, determined to find out the truth.
Speaking of the truth, Detective Kwon decides to tail Eul-Tae. He goes against Hwal’s wishes and begins searching for Bulgasal, who eventually finds him.
He knows Kwon has been following him since his house and calls him out for being a stalker. He also suggests the pair have a chat. As they talk, Eul-Tae admits that he didn’t kill his partner killed all those years back. However, Kwon cuts through the deception. He points out the traumatic experience his family suffered from, including how his daughter and his family were killed by Bulgasal.
When Eul-Tae’s eyes turn red, he remembers flashes from his past and immediately regrets showing up alone, knowing this is the enemy he’s been looking for. Eul-Tae doesn’t kill him but does tell Kwon to relay a message on to Hwal instead. He’s not killed, but Eul-Tae’s associate smashes into from behind in her car.
Sang-Un’s search brings her to the hospital where she sits with her grandmother, Go-Bun. She wants to know wanting to know exactly who Hwa-yeon is and what she did in the past. Pretending to be her, go-Bun opens up and reveals that Hwa-Yeon actually saved everyone. She warned that Bulgasal would be coming and encouraged everyone to run. Dark Hole was the one originally behind everything, using a man with a scar on his hand as the instigator.
Sang-Un receives a call from Kwon’s abductor, asking to meet. She’s also someone from Hwal’s past too, a monster by the name of Dueoksini. As Hwal heads out into the woods, he’s first to find Kwon tied up to a tree.
Hwal walks right into this trap, and he’s injected with a syringe of poison; an amount that would normally kill dozens of people. Of course, it won’t kill him but it will incapacitate the man enough to make sure he feels an unbearable amount of pain.
Hwal continues to try and save Kwon, who in turn saves Hwal. Just as things look bleak, Eul-Tae suddenly shows up and bites Dueoksini’s neck, warning her that Hwal is all his. With Kwon watching, he’s shocked to see Hwal recover from his wounds. Eul-Tae admits that Hwal is also Bulgasal, leaving the detective devastated and shocked. He scrambles into the woods to safety, reflecting back on what’s happened.
In private, Eul-Tae warns Hwal not to get too close and attached to Sang-Un. He warns that she’s not what she seems and tells him not to be fooled. Only, Sang-Un appears and calls out Eul-Tae’s lies. She knows he was the one who killed everyone in the village and started the fire. As all three stare one another down, the episode comes to a close.
The Episode Review
Another dramatic episode bows out as Bulgasal continues to grow from strength to strength. This is a really solid K-drama and the parallel timelines, that from the past and from the present, are weaved together so effortlessly. The drama definitely has echoes of Goblin throughout its story but it’s different enough to stand out on its own and not feel like a shadow of that highly popular series.
The lore and mythology has been developed really well across the season and even now, 8 episodes down the line, this has been cleverly woven through our three main characters.
The drama involving Kwon at the end is suitably dramatic too and it’s a nice way of keeping the theme going of adding a different monster for our heroes to tackle each week.
Bulgasal has been a great watch so far and the second half of this drama promises to be just as dramatic and action packed. Could this be the k-drama to brat this year? It certainly looks like it based on this showing!