Mystic Pop-Up Bar: Episode 8 – Recap

As we reach the halfway point of the series, we learn more about Wol-ju’s past and how it tangles with the present. Let’s break this episode down, shall we?

Kang-bae and Yeo-rin

This is honestly the least interesting plot for me so let’s just get it out of the way.

From their kiss last episode, Kang-bae is lovestruck and of course, the rest of the team (even Yeom!) notices. He tries to ask Yeo-rin out but Yeo-rin is determined to avoid him, as she does not want to start having feelings for him, lest he run away from her (good luck with that). Kang-bae isn’t giving up though, and his co-workers hatch a plan to have dinner with the Security team. Yeo-rin decides to show her unpleasant side in the hopes of turning Kang-bae off. However, Kang-bae, being the romantic fool that he is, manages to flip the script of everything that Yeo-rin does. She eats a lot, even beef that’s cooked rare, and Kang-bae is glad that she has a good appetite. She downs a whole glass (regular, not a shot glass) of soju, and Kang-bae says that her liver must be so strong. Yeo-rin is not having it.

While the rest of the crew decides to go to karaoke, Kang-bae offers to walk a drunk Yeo-rin home. When she stumbles, a last-ditch attempt to make Kang-bae uninterested, he helps her up and she pushes him away. She confesses that she’s just pretending to be drunk and that she doesn’t have any feelings for him. Yes, she kissed him but she misinterpreted her feelings; after all, it’s not like they know each other well. Kang-bae argues that that’s how couples are at the start and that they can get to know each other. But Yeo-rin knows that the closer they get, the more he’ll realize that he doesn’t like her. Kang-bae asks why she is so certain and she says she just knows, and walks away.

A broken-hearted Kang-bae is left staring after Yeo-rin.

Case of the week

The team needs to drive out the ghost of a web author who is haunting an apartment. Wol-ju and Gwi are upset that they won’t get to read how her series ends, and using Kang-bae’s connection with the landlord, they visit the apartment and talk to Bo-ra a.k.a. the “Ice Witch”. She’s attached to the apartment, and no one can get her to leave. However, when she finds out that the team’s expertise is settling grudges, she decides to tell them her story.

Sick with a serious heart condition, Bo-ra works from home and has no social life. She channels her imagination and dreams of romance into her web novel, Juliet’s Temptation, a loosely-based reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. Things change when she falls for Do-young, a delivery guy who brings parcels to her home. What starts as her giving him water and sandwiches when he delivers something to her house turns into dating and falling in love. She doesn’t tell him what she does for a living, only giving a vague hint, as she’s too embarrassed about her work. One day, Do-young drops by her house to pick her up for their date with a gift. However, he overhears her telling someone on the phone about how the delivery guy is being clingy and annoying, and how he’s just being used. Do-young walks out, not knowing that Bo-ra’s talking about the characters in her web novel. She never sees him again.

All Bo-ra wants is for Do-young to read the last chapter of Juliet’s Temptation to clear all the misunderstandings. With that, the team gets started on their mission to find Do-young. They manage to corner him by placing the bar in front of his truck after one of his deliveries. Despite his initial refusal to read Bo-ra’s novel, they convince him to stay for a meal and give him the drink to enter his dreams. Kang-bae and Wol-ju reenact the last chapter of the novel, where Juliet picks the delivery man, and Do-young realizes what – or rather, who – the story is really about.

They take him back to Bo-ra’s place and Wol-ju serves as their medium. Bo-ra apologizes for not telling him the truth sooner and Do-young says that he enjoyed her work. He wishes he told her that he liked her sooner, and gives her the gift he wanted to give her on that day – a hairpin. He expresses his sorrow for hating her over a misunderstanding and asks for her forgiveness. She tells him that she doesn’t care if he hated her; she just didn’t want him to live his life feeling hurt. She wanted him to know that she loved him and that she had many happy memories with him. She thanks Wol-ju too, for listening to her like no one else did when she was alive, and she can now leave without regrets.

Wol-ju and the Crown Prince

Ah, my favorite part because of the angst.

After Bo-ra leaves, we get a long flashback of the romance between Wol-ju and the Crown Prince. We already know that he fell for her when she cured him from his nightmares but this time, we also see their cute and secret dates: from feeding and drawing in the Crown Prince’s quarters to sitting and watching the night sky together.

However, the Queen finds out about their relationship and threatens Wol-ju. This doesn’t stop the Crown Prince, though, and he visits Wol-ju at her house, promising to protect her. On the night of the fire, a distraught Wol-ju sees Won-Hyun, the Crown Prince’s trusted friend in this era. She asks him to take her to see the Crown Prince, but he tells her some upsetting news: the Crown Prince is marrying someone that the Queen chose for him.

We return to the present, where a much older and wiser Wol-ju is ruminating over drinks. She tells Kang-bae and Gwi that one important lesson she learned over the last 500 years is that a person just needs another person to listen to them. In her case, though, she had no one. She only trusted two people: one died and the other betrayed her. And even after all this time, she’s still listening to others and being thanked for it. Kang-bae and Gwi tell her that she can turn to them but she brushes them off and wants to be left alone. Wol-ju comes out and laments to the moon: of how she’s torn between hating and longing for the Crown Prince, of how she’s tired of listening to other people and having her relationships fire back, of how she wants to be free from her misery before she grows attached again.

(Hwang Jung-eum cries so beautifully here, I dare you not to feel a twinge in your heart.)

The evil spirit and what’s next

Won-hyun and Yeom, despite the limited screen time, gives the best twist for the night: Yeom is actually Won-hyun’s father. We’ll find out what that means for our team in the coming episodes. The preview for the next episode is pretty promising: we have someone recognizing Gwi as “His Highness” and a teary-eyed Kang-bae bursting about being used.

See you next week!

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K-drama enthusiast, aspiring yogi, and loves angst

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