Hotel Del Luna, my first proper introduction to Korean Drama. The pilot episode sets the vibe for the series to follow.
The episode opens with a forlorn girl leading a horse attached to a wagon on a deserted road. She is drenched in blood ,chasing her are some official looking soldiers. The girl trudges along on and on when night skies halt her journey. She breaks her journey by the road side inn owned by an curious, talkative old lady.
Through this conversation we come to know the girl ‘Jang Man Wol’ or ‘Man Wol’ is looking for a guest house that offers shelters to dead and departed souls. Yes ! Man Wol is transporting a wagon of souls who died because of her, not just that, she has in her turn killed those who murdered her loved ones. Man Wol seeks to atone and to find peace for her Kin as well as herself. And that becomes her curse and destiny!
Man Wol is punished to be the hostess/owner/ of a guest house that will allow dead souls to rest and refresh themselves before they embark on their final journey.
Years, decades, centuries pass – Man wol continues to be the reluctant hostess of ‘Hotel Del Luna’ ( a hotel that’s visible only to dead people). Rolling years has done nothing to soften her demeanor , she has grown more bitter, cynical and merciless. She runs a successful hotel aided by fellow ghosts who work as stewards, Bar tender, concierge, waitresses etc.
Into this mix wanders a spirit that’s not quite dead nor alive. He makes the mistake of stealing a memento from Hotel Del Luna’s property. When Man Wol shows her warrior self, the frightened half dead soul strikes a bargain. He agrees to hand over his son to Man Wol in exchange for his life. The deal is sealed.
Years roll..Man Wol comes to collect on the bargain made from the son who has become a successful young man who is quite sought after in hospitality sector.
Predictably, the young man known as ‘Koo Chan Seon’ is not thrilled. How will Man Wol persuade Koo Chan Seong? What befalls on the seemingly naïve young who is frightened to death of ghosts?
As I said, the first episode is all about setting the foundation of the series. A time travel fantasy showing the redemption and atonement of Manwol for her sins. Manwol is consumed by rage, a rage that will turn her into a vindictive soul destined for hell. There’s a sympathetic old woman who seems interested in Manwol, who she is has not been revealed yet but she possess enough power to decide the destinies of humans.
Hotel Del Luna is Man Wol’s personal purgatory. An opportunity for her to atone for her sins and move on . But the stubborn woman holds on to her grudge like a barnacle stuck to boats, so she lives as centuries pass by. So she remains on Earth, living but not living, she is neither alive nor dead neither is she undead, she just exists. Her life force tied to a tree.
The tree is dead with dried branches and no leaves or symbolically showing the absolute death of emotions in Man wol that robs her off humanity or those virtues that could usher in her entry to heaven.
In to this stagnating pond comes Koo Chan Seong, will he be the one to free her?