Character Development: 4
Hotel del Luna is unlike any other place. It is a hotel where all souls/ghosts can rest as they come to terms with their unfinished business before passing on to the afterlife. Jang Man-Wol (IU) has been the hotel owner for over a millennium, having committed a huge sin when she was human. One day, the level-headed, kind, and very-much-human Gu Chan-Sung (Yeo Jin-Goo) arrives back in South Korea after living abroad to attempt to get out of working as a manager in this hotel—a position his father had signed him up for twenty years ago. However, as soon as Chan-Sung starts working at the hotel, the deities task him with more than simply making the guests comfortable—he must break the ice around Man-Wol’s heart and ease her rage and resentment before she’s doomed to spend eternity tied to the hotel.
The plot of Hotel del Luna definitely had a lot going for it. It had the perfect blend of serious moments in each episode as well as some much-needed comedic relief. However, I found this drama a little slow to begin with. It took me some time to really become invested in the characters. Man-Wol is supposed to be very unlikeable at first and it took me learning more about her back story to care about her and want her to succeed in deserving the afterlife. I will say, the plot definitely sets you up to have your heart torn though. As soon as I started liking Man-Wol, I remembered that Chan-Sung is literally there to try and help her die…And then they fall in love and my heart is torn all over again, knowing how much Chan-Sung would suffer if/when that happens. It was a catch-22 that would be sad either way.
I enjoyed the concept of souls having unfinished business to attend to before moving on to the afterlife. That offered the show the opportunity to have some great side stories as we follow certain ghosts trying to come to terms with the reality of their death. Some of the ghosts stories were so heartwarming I found myself crying, while others had me rooting for the deaths of the humans that did them wrong, but either way, I liked these little side stories that took place throughout the episodes.
I only have one thing to say: Gu Chan-Sung is perfect. He is the kindest, most wholesome human in this show. I love that his innocence and humanity are so perfectly the opposite of the bitterness and resentment of Man-Wol. Chan-Sung is forgiving, while Man-Wol holds grudges. Chan-Sung loves helping others, while Man-Wol is only looking out for herself. I loved their relationship because he brings out the goodness in Man-Wol that she had buried so deep inside of herself. In her past life, she was never really able to show much kindness, having been a rebel warrior, but now, with the help of Chan-Sung, she allows herself to show a different side of her personality that I think she intentionally kept hidden.
I also really loved the backstory with Man-Wol’s first love. I totally didn’t see that plot twist at the end coming. Discovering that her first love truly loved her and needed to betray her to keep her safe just destroyed me. I almost wanted them to have a second chance at love and just felt so sad that their story had to end. Overall, very good romance all around!
The dark, sarcastic sense of humor was perfect! I loved that this show had so many hilarious elements because otherwise, it could have been very dark and depressing. It was the perfect blend. One of the things that I found the funniest was Man-Wol’s obsession with the guy who travels around Korea trying all the great restaurants. It seemed so out of character for her but also fit her so well. I loved it!
Part of the plot is centered around Man-Wol’s character development. She had to let go of her anger and resentment in order to be at peace and move onto the afterlife. I love character-driven stories because it gives you an opportunity to bond with the characters and root for them. As I mentioned earlier, I REALLY didn’t like Man-Wol at first (which was the whole point), but I think it shows some excellent writing if I was sobbing by the end of the drama, just wanting her to be happy. I also really liked that it took some help for her to change. Sometimes, it’s okay to get help from the people you love to overcome things you’re holding onto from the past. I loved that Man-Wol had Chan-Sung to support her and always wish the best for her, no matter what it might mean for him.
Overall, I am giving this drama 3.5 stars. I really liked it, but it wasn’t my favorite K-drama I’ve watched. The characters were believable and the plot was good (if not a little slow at points). I can certainly see why so many people love this show. I thought the episodes were a little too long and I think this show would have kept my focus more if they were shorter (I mean, each episode being about an hour and half is pretty intense). I loved the bittersweet ending and think that anyone who hasn’t seen Hotel del Luna yet definitely should give it a try. Let us know what you thought about it in the comments!