Hwayugi Episode 1 Recap
25 years ago…
Jin Sun Mi (Kal So Won) is taunted by her classmates for being a spirit. When the “teacher” comes in, it turns out the teacher is a spirit. When Sun Mi raises her umbrella the spirit leaves. The spirit bothers her on the way home, Woo Hwi Chul (Cha Seung Won) intervenes using his powerful umbrella. He declares she is a special kind of human. She agrees to do him a favor if he gives her the umbrella. Her task is to get an item in a house that only special humans can enter. He warns her to leave after retrieving the item. Hwi Chul’s winning smile disappears as Sun Mi walks away.
Sun Mi enters the house. She finds the item. She’s distracted by the house and Son Oh Gong (Lee Seung Gi) appears demanding to know why she’s in his house. Sun Mi turns to leave but Oh Gong picks her up by her backpack. He sees the items she took. Sun Mi reveals that a man asked her to take the item. She describes the man and Oh Gong knows immediately who sent her. He suggests that without a signed contract the man won’t honor his promise. He declares he’ll escort her through the woods. He tells her to put out the candles while he changes. But Sun Mi isn’t stupid, she guesses that Oh Gong can’t put out the candles. She won’t do it for free. Oh Gong asks what she wants in return. Sun Mi admits that she sees scary spirits and wants protection. Oh Gong promises to come whenever she calls. She shakes hands. She snuffs the crucial candles and his imprisoning bonds vanish. The house disappears. They find themselves in a field. Oh Gong yells with joy “I’m out, I’m finally out!”
Oh Gong wants to drink to celebrate. Sun Mi wants him to keep his promise. She asks him to meet her maternal grandmother. Oh Gong tells her that he’s a bad man. She reminds him of his promise. Oh Gong agrees that when she calls his name, he’ll come to her and protect her. But when she starts to say his name, he plucks it from her brain. She grabs him and implores him to not dessert her. He warns her others won’t be happy that she freed him. He spins away and vanishes. Sun Mi can’t remember his name.
Terrific opening sequence. Lee Seung Gi interactions with the young actress were perfect.
25 years later…
Jin Sun Mi (Oh Yeon Seo) is now CEO of a real estate firm. When she arrives to purchase a building, she flicks her yellow umbrella and sees an “extra” set of shoes. She realizes there is a spirit that lives in the building. She buys the building anyhow. When everyone leaves but Sun Mi the spirit appears. Sun Mi manages to subdue the spirit and treats it kindly. She tells the spirit she once made an agreement with a spirit but can’t remember his name or his even his face anymore.
Hwi Chul is one of a trio of judges at a singing contest. He’s quite the showman. The contestant whose vote saved her stops by his dressing room. The sign on his door reads “Chairman Woo Hwi, Lucifer Entertainment”. The contest thanks Hwi Chul. He beckons her to come out. The spirit that Sun Mi was kind to is revealed. She smiles and disappears.
Hwi Chul’s assistant tells Hwi Chul he was kind to allow the spirit to fulfill a dream. She indicates the other two judges believe he’s a publicity hound. When Hwi Chul is irked she suggests that she kill them. Hwi Chul says he can’t kill while he’s working on becoming a deity. The smile is wiped off his face when he learns that his roommate is racking up speeding tickets.
That room reminds me of a Chicago Typewriter set redressed.
Hwi Chul’s roommate is Oh Gong who arrive at a house to get rid of a spirit. He tells the spirit he’ll destroy everything in the room to release the person’s real spirit. When he finds the container, the spirit promises to leave quietly. He tells of a human that will increase his power. But Oh Gong knows it is a distraction and destroys the container ridding the evil spirit and restoring the human. He shrugs; the things he does to get good points. He lifts a bottle of alcohol as payment.
When Oh Gong gets ice cream he declares when he’s restored to heaven he’ll finally be able to drink the 2983 bottles of alcohol he’s collected. Turns out the ice cream vendor is General Frost a reformed spirit. Oh Gong asks about the human that can increase his power. General Frost confirms he’s heard of a human that can do this but no one knows who she is. Oh Gong bids adieu to return home to Hwi Chul’s place where he lives.
When Hwi Chul arrives home, he isn’t thrilled to get a congratulatory flower arrangement for Oh Gong. He isn’t thrilled to see that Oh Gong took up 3 spaces when he parked. Hwi Chul finds Oh Gong watching TV. Oh Gong confides that he meets with the elder tomorrow and believes he’ll receive a big promotion. Oh Gong declares he’ll support Hwi Chul’s quest to become a deity if he gets to heaven first. Hwi Chul declares he’ll find Oh Gong a realtor so he can move out.
A distraught woman is beckoned by a spirit in a container. She’s told to kill Sam Jung.
The elder asks Oh Gong if he killed the spirit in the matching container. Oh Gong sputters he didn’t know there was one. Confident he’s on the verge of heading to heaven, Oh Gong gets angry when the elder tells him his references are bad. Ha! Oh Gong mutter he’ll have to eat the human that can increase his power. The elder’s face gives away that this human isn’t fantasy but fact. Oh Gong strides away determined to find her. The elder shakes his head and says he needs to meet with Hwi Chul.
The elder tells Hwi Chul that Oh Gong is about to get himself in trouble with his declaration he’ll eat the human. Hwi Chul is surprised the human isn’t fantasy but fact. The elder ask if Hwi Chul sent a child to Oh Gong. Hwi Chul clarifies he didn’t want Oh Gong freed, but rather an item retrieved. The elder startles Hwi Chul that the child is the human in question. The elder says her punishment for releasing Oh Gong is fighting off evil spirits. The elder asks Oh Gong to find the human Sam Jung and protect her.
When Sun Mi arrives to list a home, the parents tell her their son (the child Oh Gong rid the evil spirit from) is cured and they no longer want to sell. Sun Mi’s assistant gets spooked when Sun Mi says the evil one is no longer at the house. She says she won’t ask for compensation for the medical expenses of the bit mark the boy gave her. When he sees the woman staring at Sun Mi, he mutters women get scarier and scarier. The woman murmurs this was the house.
It is revealed to Oh Gong that the spirit in the matching container has taken over a woman’s body. Oh Gong decides to thank the container that gave him the information by purchasing it. The shop keeper warns him it is expensive. Oh Gong calls Sa Oh Jeong and tells him to cover the cost of what he’s purchasing. Oh Jeong agrees. Though it appears that Oh Jeong is a successful CEO. The woman spots Oh Gong in the shop where trapped in a container. She backs away so he doesn’t spot her.
Oh Gong declares to General Frost he’s going to by-pass earning points to get to heaven and find the woman that can increase his power. His plan is to find the matching container spirit and pump it for details. Oh Gong leaves the new container he just purchased with General Frost stating it will warm the energy around him. He leaves. General Frost introduces himself. The container replies with a welcome.
As Sun Mi and her assistant drive, she spots a spirit on top of a car. She knows the driver will likely die. She orders her assistant get alongside the car. They honk, and she cusses the driver out. That breaks the grip of the spirit.
As they wait at a traffic light, Oh Gong crosses the road. Sun Mi’s eyes widen. She recognizes him. She flashes back. Oh Gong turns and stares. Does he know her too? Sun Mi gets out of the car and follow him. Oh Gong watches her look for him but avoids being seen.
A spirit leads Sun Mi to where Oh Gong waits. He compliments her on her survival skills. She can’t believe he’s finally revealed himself. Oh Gong reminds her that if she’d called his name, he would have come to her. She recalls him removing his name from her brain. They banter. Sun Mi declares she knows his name but he wasn’t worth calling for help. She leaves. Oh Gong wonders if she is telling the truth.
Unable to stop himself, Oh Gong follows her. He demands that she call his name. She refuses. She found out on her own that she didn’t need his protection. Insulted, Oh Gong tells her to keep protecting herself. He strides away. Sun Mi stares and remembers his broken promise.
Hwi Chul arrives at Sun Mi’s real estate office. His assistant is floored that Hwi Chul is there to see his boss. He directs Hwi Chul to wait in Sun Mi’s office and dashes to get coffee for him. The assistant calls Sun Mi to let her know that Hwi Chul is waiting for her.
Hwi Chul examines Sun Mi’s office while he waits. He spies a picture of the young Sun Mi. He smiles at the confirmation that she’s the girl he met 25 years ago and Sam Jung. Sun Mi’s assistant find him smelling Sun Mi’s slippers. Both men are startled. Hwi Chul decides to leave feigning dignity though cringing in embarrassment. He tells his assistant at least they know where Sam Jung is.
The driver that Sun Mi saved by cussing him out, spots her a rushes her. He goes to strike her but his hand is stopped. Behind Sun Mi we see Oh Gong controlling the man’s arms and hands. The man flees. Sun Mi turns and sees Oh Gong. He asks why she didn’t call him. Sun Mi reiterates she doesn’t need his protection. Oh Gong admits being insulted by her disdain. He challenges her to say his name. Sun Mi starts to but gets interrupted when her assistant calls. She assures him she’ll be back to the office soon.
Oh Gong warns her that he’ll drop the kind act and draw blood if she keeps insulting him. Sun Mi sees the truth in his eyes. She admits she doesn’t know his name. Oh Gong is relieved. He admits he never thought about her in the last 25 years. Sun Mi admits she thought about him and wondered when he’d arrive to protect her. She chides herself for believing this fairy tale would have a happy ending. Oh Gong reminds her that he was honest about who he was. Sun Mi agrees. She informs him she’ll never think of his promise to protect her again. She walks away. Oh Gong watches her go, unsettled after the encounter
Oh Gong seeks solace in General Frost’s bar. His server asks why Oh Gong is glum. Oh Gong admits that seeing Sun Mi unsettled him. He clarifies that he doesn’t feel bad for breaking his promise, but felt bad that she waited in vain for him for 25 years. Oh Gong declares he must find Sam Jung soon and eat her to end his time on earth.
As Sun Mi walks to her office, the woman watches. She recalls seeing Sun Mi talking to Oh Gong. She mutters that Oh Gong killed her husband.
After Sun Mi changes, she sees the container moving. When she goes into the living room, it changes to the bride. Sun Mi realizes she looks like the spirit that bit her (at the boy’s house). She grabs her umbrella. The light bulbs explode. She searches for the spirt. A picture frame is flung at her and shatters. Blood drips from the cuts on her arm. Sun Mi rushes away. She declares she shouldn’t believe.
The smell of her blood is like a bat signal to all the spirits in Seoul. They search for her. Hwi Chul is affected. His eyes glow.
Outside, Oh Gong wards off a spirit.
Inside, Sun Mi wraps her wound. The spirit tries to enter the room. She shuts the door.
Outside, Oh Gong fights off a gaggle of spirits.
Inside, Sun Mi holds the spirit off until she abruptly leaves. Sun Mi finds Oh Gong in her house. She asks if she came to protect her. Sun Mi grabs her and sees the bite mark the spirit mentioned and realizes she must be Sam Jung. He can’t believe that Sun Mi is Sam Jung.
Outside, Hwi Chul arrives and with a thump of his umbrella rids the remaining spirits. He realizes Oh Gong is there and now knows who Sam Jung is.
Inside, Sun Mi asks again if Oh Gong came to protect her. Oh Gong states he’s there to eat her.
Good opening episode. I don’t watch trailers nor read much about upcoming dramas so I wasn’t sure what side of the mystical realm this series would dabble in. It falls into the “Goblin” category. Spirits on earth among us. Some special humans can see them.
What I liked:
* Lee Seung Gi is back. He was stellar. Nothing else need be said.
* Humor. Understated (most of the time e.g. the slipper sniff was overt) and wry, there was subtle humor throughout. I loved that Oh Gong and Hwi Chul were trying to be good but it went against their nature.
* Lead characters clicked. I liked Sun Mi, Oh Gong, and Hwi Chul. I liked all their assistants too. I recognized most of the actors. This is a strong cast.
* Slow but not a slow pace. This first episode didn’t feel rushed and we learned tons. We know the backstory. I was surprised when Sun Mi recognized Oh Gong. I was surprised when Oh Gong knew it was Sun Mi. I was surprised how quickly Hwi Chul found Sun Mi (aka Sam Jung).
Ranking the episodes (on a scale from 1-10) had me rank this episode as very good. My episode ranking chart is below.
The first song of the OST “Let Me Out” by NU’EST W has been released. Per Soompi this “song has a strong rock sound and dubstep elements with a Complextro base that mix perfectly with NU’EST W’s voices. Leader JR participated in the rap-making of the song and this is NU’EST W’s first-ever OST, making the strong extra special for fans of both the singers and the drama”, link to article.