First Impression: Hotel Del Luna

Luna definitely has the charm of Master Sun — that baroque-gothic feel, since both shows are written by the Hong sisters.

Main cast:

  • IU (from Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryo) as Jang Man-wol. She inherits (?) del Luna hotel from a god, Mago, owing to a life filled with hatred, revenge, and later regrets.
  • Yeo Jin-goo (from Absolute Boyfriend) as Koo Chan-sung. His dad (cameo by Oh Ji-ho) sold him off to be the next manager of del Luna, in order to be revived.

Synopsis:

A long, long time ago (way before the Chosun period), a lone swordswoman hunts for an inn — Full Moon Inn– which supposedly houses the dead. Unknowingly she stumbled onto it, and the proprietress, a deity, sets a curse(?) on her, and Man-wol becomes the next owner of Full Moon.

1998: a young Chan-sung tells his dad not to endanger himself trying to earn money — which daddy eventually did anyway. Papa Koo is a small time thief and a single dad. One night, while running away after a pathetic heist at a convenience store, he trips…and ends up walking into Hotel del Luna. Unknown to him, del Luna’s clientele are the dead, waiting for their turn to be ferried across River Styx.

Papa Koo isn’t really dead yet (we see that although he has a bad head injury, his fingers are still twitching). However, he is on the brink of entering the dead zone. He gets caught by Man-wol, who proposes a deal. She lets him live, he gives her his son (Chan-sung) 20 years later.

2019: Chan-sung returns to Korea after 21 years (his dad told him about the strange encounter and got his son to run overseas and not come back until after the 20-year period). Unfortunately, Man-wol hasn’t forgotten the debt owed. She hunts Chan-sung down and opens his “third eye”. That night, as he tries to evade her again, he runs into an eyeless (parallel motif noted) ghost (cue loads of running and screaming).

Man-wol saves him but an old enemy recognises her when she and Chan-sung went to a dimsum restaurant for dinner (or rather, she ordered Chan-sung to dinner). The old enemy is an ex-mayor, who murdered a policewoman. The policewoman paid off Man-wol during her stay in del Luna to haunt the corrupted mayor who ordered her death.

Even though Man-wol was stabbed by ex-mayor, she is unperturbed by the injury. However, a deluge of memories (her old hatred from her “previous” life) comes flooding back. In an act of compassion, she tells Chan-sung to leave.

And Chan-sung did…but returns with a cart to ferry the injured Man-wol back to the hotel, thereby sealing his fate.

Review:

Well, well…Luna smells like a show that will not disappoint. The first ep has a fantasy element nicely balanced with a quirky charm — mostly coming from the elegant IU, who may appear to be the flawless owner of del Luna, but is remonstrated by her manager to be a spendthrift. And of cos, Yeo Jin-goo (whom we have been seeing too much of), never fails to disappoint. On one hand, he is the suave, MBA-ed professional who is trained in the hotel industry…on the other hand, he is the scaredy cat who may shit his pants when he learns his new job scope comes with dealing with dead people.

Underneath all the fun-scares (the running and screaming is hilarious), Luna appears to have a deeper theme of revenge — and its impact on the human psyche/soul — weaved in. Man-wol loses her brother? lover? to one of the many raiding warlords of her era, and turns into an assassin who kills without compunction. However, the constant killing, hunting and running for her life has drained her. Her seeking out Full Moon Inn seems to stem from a desperate need to either put an end to her twisted life, or a way to atone for all the sins (and innocent lives) she took.

Of cos, the 2019 Chan-sung doesn’t have such a baggage. Unlike Man-wol, he is like a baby, pure and unadulterated. The only “baggage” he had was thrust upon him by his already dead dad: a fantastical story about a posh hotel with a beautiful owner who has the power over Life and Death.

It’d be interesting to see how Chan-sung eventually becomes Man-wol’s redemption, and how an ageless, immortalised being would end up in a romance with a “pathetic” human.

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