With Halloween approaching, everything focuses on the supernatural. Ghosts. Vampires. Zombies. You name it.
When it comes to kdramas, the supernatural is a theme that writers and viewers continue to love. Dramas like My Love from the Star, Master’s Sun, and Goblin being have become crowd favourites over the last few years, and it’s no wonder why. For writers, the supernatural gives them creative freedom. It’s a test to come up with a plotline so original that it blows everyone away. For us viewers, it’s a form of escapism. It takes us away from our troubles and reminds us that anything is possible if we put our minds to it.
With this in mind, it’s time to shine a light on a drama that’s received an explosive response this year and broken records for its network (tvN): Hotel Del Luna.
Hotel Del Luna is no ordinary hotel. Situated in Seoul, it’s invisible to the naked eye and caters to ghosts, who spend their time waiting for their remaining worldly wishes, resentments, and curses to be fulfilled. Running the hotel is Jang Man Wol (IU), a selfish and suspicious soul who’s thousand-year-old sin has resulted in a curse of living as the hotel’s CEO, and her only hope of finding someone with a greater sin to take over her role is slowly diminishing.
However, things start to change when Goo Chan Sung (Yeo Jin Goo) arrives. Having been the youngest assistant manager at a multinational hotel corporation, he is forced to work at Hotel Del Luna after a deal his father made years ago. He’s a perfectionist and appears to be an excellent budgeter, but can he save Man Wol from her thousand-year-old curse?
The drama begins with a mysterious aura, teasing Man Wol’s sins and reveals how Chan Sung’s employment at Hotel Del Luna came to be. As the drama progresses, it becomes embedded with comical tones, suspense, and a sprinkle of romance. Each back story appears to let go of a desire or resentment and prepares the viewer for Man Wol’s own resentment to unfold. But what we are left behind with is the recurring idea that letting go is usually for the better.
Behind the story are the Hong sisters. Having written the scripts to The Greatest Love and Master’s Sun, the sisters are known for flawlessly weaving romance with comedy to create that classic romantic comedy.
However, it appears that when it comes the supernatural, there is an element that’s been added multiple times: the ability to see ghosts. In Master’s Sun, the protagonist gains this ability after an accident. Then, in A Korean Odyssey, the protagonist is cursed with this ability. In this drama, Man Wol gives this ability to Chan Sung to force him to work at the hotel. It’s something you’d think would have avoided in a genre where anything possible, but that’s not the case. Despite this, the ability is most suited to the kdrama.
IU is a name that all kpop fans must know. She is the ‘digital monster’ and one of the best-selling artists of the kpop industry. When it comes to her acting, I had mixed opinions before watching. I have only seen her in Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, alongside a blockbuster cast. Although it wasn’t an all-time favourite kdrama, she did a decent job of playing her character.
In Hotel Del Luna, she definitely improved and, in fact, surpassed my expectations. She stood out from the rest of the cast, with her character’s elegance appearing effortless. It was an interesting comparison to her past self, where her character’s status gave no room for elegance. If anything, no one else could have played the part of Man Wol.
The rest of the cast included Yeo Jin Goo, Block B’s P.O, gugudan’s Mina, Park Yoo Na, and cameos from Lee Joon Gi, Kim Soo Hyun, Nam Da Reum, and the lately departed Sulli. Out of the cameos, Kim Soo Hyun makes the biggest impact on viewers. But you’ll have to watch it to know why.
All in all, Hotel Del Luna is an emotionally driven weave of supernatural, romance, and comedy, where the addition of CGI elements forces the actors to bring out the best in their acting. For anyone looking for a drama to binge-watch this Halloween, then this is the drama to watch.
You can watch Hotel Del Luna on Viki.