The Runaway Bride
We return to Hotel Del Luna this week with another stand-alone case to solve, this time involving a Ghost marriage. As Chan Sung continues to learn more about his purpose at the hotel, the chemistry between him and Man-Wol continues to keep this series as one of the stand-out Korean dramas of the years.
Picking up where we left off from before, Man-Wol saves Chan Sung and begins talking to the strange spirit inside the wardrobe. She asks her whether she wants to be free before trapping her in the closet again. However, she repeatedly says Chan’s name, prompting him to head back into the room in a bid to save Man-Wol. The spirit jumps and runs out, straight through the hallway and her confined hotel room.
Yu-Na continues to feel like an outcast at school too, harassed by the spirit of Su-Jung that follows her around. As she trips on the curb, it turns out Su-Jung is a hotelier at the Hotel Del Luna and he has a job to do. He saves her from her fate and tells her she’s the fourth choice to take over the hotel.
Back at the hotel, Man-Wol is shown Operation: Kill Third Choice – a plan set into motion by the other workers at the hotel who intend to have Chan-Sung meet an unfortunate fate. Having heard enough, Man-Wol tells them to drop it. Instead, she tells Chan Sung the truth when he asks her about the room. After some discussion, she asks if he loves her. A long pause ensues before Man-Wol walks away, having heard him tell her he doesn’t love her.
A girl arrives at the hotel soon after; a wandering spirit who asks him for help before passing out in his arms. After taking her to Man-Wol’s room, she tells the hotel owner that she’s being entered into a Ghost Marriage. As Man-Wol prepares for the big event, she calls Chan Sung to find out when he’s going to get the money for the sold painting. Instead, she gets through to Sanchez and he hilariously tells Chan that they now follow each other on social media.
After Sanchez has a run-in with the ghost, and winds up being traumatized in the process, the daughter’s parents meet with Man-Wol and discuss the wedding plans. After some last minute changes, Man-Wol goads Chan Sung into coming shopping with her where she picks out a fair amount of jewellery and puts them on Chan’s credit card.
It turns out the flower woman, Ma Go, has an older sister. Chan Sung heads there to pick up flowers for the wedding but winds up speaking to the ladies there about a way to try and fix the issues with Sanchez and the upcoming wedding. As a solution, he decides to host an impromptu game with prospective grooms and the daughter choosing from them. Instead, she chooses none of them and decides to go with the original plan.
The wedding goes ahead but it turns out the parents were actually being deceptive the whole time. Su Min has second thoughts and transforms her face into a hideous monster, prompting the groom to run out and leave her standing at the altar. She cuts the bind that holds them together and sure enough, it breaks the hold she has over him.
Meanwhile at the hotel, Yu-Ra arrives and asks to be an intern while Chan-Sung says goodbye to the bride he’s now saved from the hotel. As he turns and looks Man-Wol in the eye, the two stare each other down for what feels like an eternity before she tells him he’s doing a good job. It turns out Ma Go may well be grooming Chan Sung to make Man-Wol his last customer to see off and if that happens, there will be tears.
With a little more world-building and a lot more playful banter between Man-Wol and Chan Sung, Hotel Del Luna rests heavily on the chemistry between its two lead characters. It works really well too, with the tonal shifts between humour and horror continuing to blend surprisingly well together. Seeing the ghosts suddenly change into their hideous forms, and the short moments of tension through the episode, remind us of the dangerous spirit world beyond. For the most part though it works to offset the humour and prevent the show from feeling too lighthearted.
Across the five episodes so far, the growing relationship between Man-Wol and Chan Sung has been well written and engaging. Although I still think Jin-Goo was at his peak in The Crowned Clown earlier this year, there’s enough here to make for a likable protagonist, even if IU steals the show. Quite where Hotel Del Luna will go from here is still a mystery but episode 5 is another strong addition to a promising Korean drama that’s shaping up to be one of the best of the year.