Can ghosts sneak around in human form, their flesh invigorated by their thirst for redemption and vengeance? In Hotel del Luna, that is exactly the case. The physical trauma of death may fade, but the underlying human issues prevail – and haunt, even the ghosts themselves.
The South Korean drama, released in 2019 and directed by Oh Choong-hwan [known for: While You Were Sleeping], is centered around the lavish womb of Jang Man-wol’s (Lee Ji-Eun) hotel for ghosts in central Seoul, only visible to those tiptoeing on the severed edge of death. The devilishly alluring – yet intimidating – owner is chained to the morphing walls of the building, breathing anew when fresh guests stumble in to fulfil the dreams of their lost lives. The twisted roots of her past – stuffed away behind a pair of angelic eyes and a biting tongue – are sneakily unearthed when Gu Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo), a young Harvard MBA graduate, is sucked in as the missing human puzzle piece in the hotel’s management. His handsome and compassionate soul seems to exist to grate Man-wol’s stone heart, only to challenge it in the end.
The show delves into the idea of reincarnation and serves as a warning against letting resentment boil our lives down – until all we are left with is steam. Unlike some other Korean dramas, this one stands out for its acting, music, stunning picture and philosophical questions. They sneak up on you, leaving you to reassess your own ties to this world. Most importantly, however, the romantic connection between the two leads operates on a foundation of split power and authority, proving that harmony is the juicy fruit of exhausted turmoil.
The limited-episode series is artistically holistic in its approach to story-telling, delivering hour-long episodes that enthral as visually and emotionally as a high-budget film would. We shiver from from the vengeful ghosts breathing down our necks. We choke on swallowed tears when faced with relatable dilemmas of losing loved ones and failing to move on. We sit on the edge of the sofa, waiting for souls to edge through time.
KissAsian, Rakuten Viki, Netflix