Past & Present
When it comes to Korean dramas this year, Hotel Del Luna has been the one that’s really stood out to me. Effortlessly weaving drama, comedy and romance, episode 10 sees deeper ties to the past connect with the present, all while showcasing some really strong characterisation for both Chan Sung and Man-Wol.
Following on from yesterday’s ending, we return today with the Spirit Of The Well interfering in Chan Sung’s conversation, giving him back the potion he dropped in the water. Disappearing as quickly as he appeared, Man-Wol plays on his appearance, telling Chan to drink the contents and be rid of the ghosts. He refuses, instead getting into a heated debate about the painting which ends with him managing to convince her to have food together.
Once there, he attempts to make a deal but notices that Man-Wol is sinking into despair and seemingly given up hope completely. Back at the hotel, Chan Sung brings a letter to the Chairman while Man-Wol heads off to discuss hotel matters. It turns out all the guests Yu-Na brought there were originally murdered. Murdered by the same person who’s potentially the owner of the vehicle Yu-Na was chasing in yesterday’s episode. Man-Wol tells them not to bother with the killer but to instead focus on the dead, giving them a comfortable stay until they’re ready to ascend.
Meanwhile, Chan Sung is recommended by Mr. Kim to hook up with the Chairman’s grand-daughter which angers Man-Wol, attempting in vain to hide her disgust. To make matters worse, the painting fiasco prompts her to have more words with Man-Wol, ending with her calling him money-grubbing and a fraud. Sighing in defeat, Chan Sung decides to try and settle things with her, asking again to be reinstated at the hotel.
Forcing a smile, the Chairman tells Man-Wol about the dream-call service where he speaks to his grand-daughter in her dream, telling her about Chan Sung. He tells her he wants Chan to be her husband, which is just about enough for Man-Wol as she grabs the phone and ends the call, storming off in anger. After commenting on his preference for dull brown colours, Chan Sung meets with the Chairman’s granddaughter and they talk for a while. Word of their date gets back to Man-Wol though, with a series of still-image grins and the bartender’s over-the-top happy attitude causing her to sink into despair even more.
Meanwhile Mi-Ra winds up meeting a familiar face from her old life, courtesy of the flower lady, who smiles with glee as they reconvene in their current life. The Chairman also sees that his grand-daughter was originally going to get into a relationship with Chan Sung but he blows her off, telling her there’s someone else. That someone being Man-Wol.
Together again, the two find a ghost lurking in the library and vow to help her, as she appears to be inexplicably linked to a book called “Existence and Time”. Inside, Chan finds pictures that she asks him to get rid of, vanishing before his eyes as he clutches them tightly. That woman, as fate would have it, is his Mother. As Chan Sung grieves, Man-Wol leaves him to his devices while Mi-Ra arrives with a man named Park Yeong-Su, a face he recognizes from his dreams. As he stares at them, he has flashes of the past, including a vision of the Princess killing him. Chan Sung watches on, clearly rattled, as the past begins crossing with the present.
After his encounter back home, Chan Sung shows the hotel owner Park’s face and she smiles at the irony of this thief now working as a police officer. She thanks him for bridging them together in this life but as the two lock eyes from across the street, they stare each other down with a knowing look. Man-Wol smiles through the tears and looks at her old friend, before walking off into the distance with Chan.
Chan receives a message soon after from Man-Wol, asking him to come to the Hotel to see a guest off. As it happens, Man-Wol escorts his Mother to the hotel; a perfect send off for Chan-Sung’s first job back at the hotel for his reinstatement.
As the episode draws to its conclusion, Man-Wol speaks to him about her true feelings, admitting she wished he would return numerous times. She tells him she’s going to use him to get revenge but he wraps his arms around her and hugs her tightly. For the first time this series she lets her guard down and raises her hands, hugging him back. She closes her eyes, embracing Chan Sung as flowers blossom all over the tree. Her bitter, angry facade is shattered, at least for a moment, as her tender, loving side of old returns.
With a perfectly emotional ending and a really well written episode, Hotel Del Luna continues to impress as we reach the final four weeks of this drama. The entire show has boasted a really impressive soundtrack and Man-Wol’s constant outfit changes are a real joy to behold as well. The entire aesthetic is awash with some great details, including a great use of colour and a pacing perfectly timed throughout the 75 minute episodes.
This week’s episode delivers one of the most emotional and well written slices of drama across the entire run of the show thus far. The agonizing wait for next week begins but as it stands, Hotel Del Luna is going to be a tough one to beat for the crown of best Korean drama this year.