Greetings! I hope 2021 has been going well for everyone. This will be my first K-Drama review so I can only hope you’ll bear with me as I try to gather my thoughts about Hotel del Luna which took 2019 by storm. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Hotel del Luna Review
Alternative Names: Hotel delluna, 호텔 델루나
Air Date: July 13, 2019 – September 1, 2019
Number of Episodes: 16
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Romantic Comedy
Cast: Lee Ji-eun as Jang Man-wol (Kim Gyu-ri as young Man-wol) & Yeo Jin-goo as Gu Chan-sung
The drama revolves around one central figure, and that is Jang Man-Wol, the CEO of Hotel del Luna. Man-Wol’s past mistake and her desire for revenge keeps her tied to the hotel for years. A specialty of this hotel is that its staff and guests are all souls/ghosts. Before they can move on, the souls spend their time fulfilling all desires left unfulfilled due to their lives being cut short. The only human in the hotel is the hotel’s general manager who found himself working in this unique hotel because of his unavoidable connection to Jang Man-Wol.
I had heard quite a bit about the writers of Hotel del Luna. Known popularly as the Hong Sisters, Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran have worked on quite a number of popular series such as My Girl (2005), You’re Beautiful (2009), My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox (2010), Master’s Sun (2013). But I must admit that Hotel del Luna was my first introductory drama to their writing. Back in 2019, this drama was the most viewed tvN drama and was the twelfth highest rated Korean drama in cable television history. It made quite and thus piqued my curiosity. When I heard who the female lead was, I was immediately sold.
Lee Ji-eun as Jang Man-wol
People new to K-drama or to the Korean pop culture in general might not be familiar with Lee Ji-eun, titled Korea’s “little sister”. She’s famously known by her stage name, IU, and is more active in the music industry. However, Ji-eun is no pushover when it comes to acting. She has starred in eight dramas (including Hotel del Luna) where she has shown her immaculate acting skills.
Ji-eun’s acting breathes new life into Jang Man-wol, the CEO of the hotel, who is extravagant and somewhat of an extortionist at first. Her character develops along with the show, showing her softer caring side. Through the many flashbacks we gradually piece together her story and realize the reasons behind her deep rooted grudge that has bound her to the hotel for 1300 years.
Yeo Jin-goo as Gu Chan-sung
Yeo Jin-goo’s portrayal of Gu Chan-sung is an interesting take on a K-drama male lead. Chan-sung is a good-hearted person, but he’s not your typical brave to the point of almost being ridiculously stupid lead. He knows his limits and does his best to stay in them. But while he has been instrumental in bringing about a change in Man-wol, the romance between the two of them feels almost forced. The final reveal about the connection between Man-wol and Chang-sung might seem anti-climactic to some.
For a drama that has been classified as romance-drama, it might seem strange for the main couple to feel so forced. Man-wol’s past love presents us the bittersweet tragic love story needed to keep the romance tag applicable.
Overall Review of Hotel del Luna
Overall Hotel del Luna is a wonderful show to watch. While the main plot revolving round Man-wol and her revenge drives the show, I believe its charm lies in the small stories dispersed throughout it. The series presents a contemplative look into the themes of death, regret, forgiveness and moving on through it’s side characters. The staff and guests of Hotel del Luna are not mere decorations to amplify the main couple, or the main story, but have their own stories that they want to tell.
Perhaps those familiar with anime might be able to relate when I say that the individual episodic nature highlighting the stories of the guests and staff of Hotel del Luna reminds me of Natsume Yuujinchou. Their way of handling life lessons by sprinkling some comedic elements is the same.
The drama lives up to the hype that it generated and is worth a watch for ones looking for something to binge while waiting for the weekly update of ongoing k-dramas.