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10 things you might not know about Korean drama Hotel del Luna (2019)

Hotel del Luna’s official photo. Credits: Youtube

Written by famous screenwriter siblings the Hong Sisters, Hotel del Luna (2019) is the tenth-highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history.

It was a commercial success, recording the highest ratings in its time slot throughout its run. The series first aired on tvN on July 13 to Sept 1, 2019.

It follows Jang Man-wol, the beautiful but cold owner of Hotel del Luna or Guest House of the Moon for 1,300 years.

Korean singer IU, who is credited using her real name Lee Ji-eun for any acting role, plays the fashionable and charismatic hotel owner.

Unlike other hotelS, the clients of this hotel are all ghosts waiting to move to the afterlife. It is only visible to ghosts but humans can see it under certain circumstances like during a lunar eclipse.

Condemned to be the owner of the hotel after killing many people, Man-wol’s character gradually softens after she meets Goo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo).

Chan-sung is the general manager of the hotel after his father made a deal with Man-wol 20 years prior.

The plot

The storyline revolves around Jang Man-wol who has to come to terms with her past so that she can move on to the afterlife.

The hotel’s employees are all ghosts, each of whom has their very own issue.

The longest employee of the hotel is the bartender Kim Seon-bi (Shin Jung-geun). He lived during the Joseon dynasty as the scholar Kim Shi-ik and was defamed. He is waiting to clear his name.

The chief housekeeper Choi Seo-hee (Bae Hae-sun) also lived during the Joseon era. When she gave birth to a girl instead of a boy, her in-law killed her baby, driving her to insanity. She vows to see the family tree die out before she moves on to the afterlife.

The third longest employee is the hotel receptionist Pyo Ji-hoon as Ji Hyun-joong. He is accidentally killed during the height of the Korean War. He is waiting for his younger sister so that they can move on together.

It is understandable why it was such a fan-crazed drama. It has stunning cinematography, a storyline that keeps viewers guessing and outstanding acting even by the whole cast including the cameos.

If you are a fan of the drama, here are 10 things you might not know about Hotel del Luna (2009):

Spoiler Alert!

1.The ‘haunting’ during the filming

Filming any paranormal or ghost stories has long been associated with haunting even when the camera is off.

Annabelle, The Exorcist and The Nun’s filming sets all had alleged haunting. So does the filming of Hotel del Luna had its own ghost story off set?

Jin-goo in an interview CNA Lifestyle said, “While we were filming on set, there were few times when the fire alarm went off without anyone having done anything.”

At first he thought it was something supernatural, then it turned out the alarms just went off because the special effects crew had released too much smoke.

Meanwhile, Bae Hae-sun who plays Choi Seo-hee, the hotel’s housekeeper and room service provider shared another peculiar happening during the set.

When appearing on the talk show Happy Together, she said “When we were filming the lobby scene, when we were rehearsing and taking breaks everything was fine. But whenever we started the actual scene, we got a blackout. So as it was someone was watching and has turned off the switch at that very moment.”

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Pyo Ji-hoon who plays the hotel receptionist Ji Hyun-joong added, “That actually happened many times especially when we are filming at the hotel.”

2.Senior actor Jung Dong-hwan took the role in Hotel del Luna just because of Lee Ji-eun aka IU.

In the drama, senior actor Jung Dong-hwan plays No Joon-suk. He is the hotel’s general manager for 30 and Chan-sung’s predecessor.

Dong-hwan revealed on the Oct 10, 2019 broadcast of Happy Together, “I received the casting offer for Hotel del Luna when I was really busy with performances for a play. I filmed all night long at the same time as doing my play. The director personally came to see me and said that IU was appearing in it. I didn’t need to see that script. Because IU was doing it, I said that I would do my best.”

The two actors first met in the drama You are the Best (2013). They were portraying a father and daughter pair.

3.Choi Tae-joon was offered a role in the drama.

On Mar 11, 2019, Korean actor Choi Tae-joon’s agency Huayi Brothers confirmed that the actor was in talks to star in the drama opposite Ji-eun and Yeo Jin-goo.

It was reported that Tae-joon had been offered the role Cho Woo-hyun. He is described as a second male lead and a descendant of Goguryeo aristocracy.

However a month later on Apr 4, Huayi Brothers announced that the actor decided to not appear due to conflicts regarding “the direction of the drama and the character’s role and importance in the drama.”

In the meantime, a source from tvN explained, “During the final stages of making adjustments about a month ago, his character was changed. After some discussion, both parties decided that Choi Tae-joon will not be taking on the role.

Immediately after Tae-joon turned the role, it was announced that Lee Tae-sun was taking a role in the drama.

As it turned out, the Tae-sun role is different from the role Tae-joon was in talks to take on.

In the final storyline of the drama, he plays the role of Yeon-woo and officer Park Young-soo. He is Man-wol’s fellow rebel who is like a brother to her.

He is then reincarnated as police officer Park Young-soo.

4.Here are some of the famous cameos

Besides talented main cast, the drama is also known for its star-studded special appearances.

Lee Joon-gi who appeared in the 2016 drama Scarlet Heart: Goryeo with Ji-eun made a cameo in episode 3.

Meanwhile, the talented Kim Won-hae who is known for his eccentric roles appeared as the corrupted mayor in the first episode.

Unfortunately, Hotel Del Luna was one of the last TV appearances of K-pop star Sulli. Sulli and Ji-eun were known to be incredibly close friends.

On one episode of “Night of Hate Comments”, Sulli discussed briefly about her cameo in the series.

“I was contacted by IU, who asked me if I could do it. She said it was a role that she liked. I didn’t know what kind of role it was, but I right away said I would do it.”

A couple of months after her appearance in Hotel Del Luna in mid-October 2019, Sulli was found dead by her manager at her house.

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Ji-eun was reported to have stayed at Sulli’s wake for three days straight.

5.IU made an Instagram account for Jang Man-wol

Jang Man-wol in the drama is known to be foodie. She always posts foodstagrams before her meal.

During one of the dining out scenes with Jin-goo’s character, the script was supposed to be just Man-wol enjoy looking at the delicious food.

Ji-eun then suggested to change the set-up a bit. She asked if it was okay for Jang Man-wol to be on social media.

From there, she started to post behind the scenes photos of Hotel del Luna.

In Dec 2019 , the actress revealed that her phone was still logged into the account as a second account.

“There are times when it’s difficult because I get so many notifications, but the idea of logging out makes me feel somewhat sad, so I’m just leaving it as it is,” she said.

Jang Man-wol’s Instagram account has almost 900,000 followers to date.

6.The size of Jang Man-wol’s wardrobe

Fashion lovers who watched the drama would agree-Jang Man-wol is a style icon.

It was reported that her wardrobe cost over 10 million won per episode. On average, she changes her looks every seven minutes per episode donning over 100 outfits throughout the drama.

First of all, she is not afraid of colours. Man-wol wears everything from something monochrome to bright colours such as bright red and fuchsia pink.

Since the character is over 1,300 years old, her outfits are most often a modern twist of the classic styles.

Her style covers timeless looks such as shoulder pad dresses, capes, balloon sleeves and bow neck.

Moreover, the attention to the detail of her every outfit is purely amazing. For a plain patterned outfit, Man-wol always rocks a statement brooch to pop up her look.

Her earrings, be they the dangling or studded types, never fail to complement her hair and outfit.

Speaking of her hair, Man-wal’s hairstyle is always on point especially her hair accessories. Nobody can rock hairpins like she does in the drama.

If you haven’t noticed, she always wears a ring on her left index finger.

While her day outfits are worth dying for, Man-wol’s night robes are just ridiculously beautiful. Who would wear those pretty robes to sleep at night?

Jang Man-wol’s every look is on point. Credits: IMDB

7.Hotel Del Luna was the first draft for The Master’s Sun

In an interview with Korea Joongang Daily, the Hong Sisters revealed Hotel del Luna was actually the first draft for The Master’s Sun (2013).

Starring So Ji-sub and Gong Hyo-jin, the horror-romantic comedy is about a woman who starts seeing ghosts after an accident. Things take a new turn for her when she meet a cold and distant CEO.

Every time she touches him the ghosts that surround her disappear.

Additionally, the sisters revealed that they were inspired from the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast for this drama. However in Hotel del Luna, the Beauty is the one that got cursed.

In this version of Beauty and the Beast, it is the Beauty who got cursed. Credit: Youtube.

8.The ending explained and the possibility of a second season

The younger sister Mi-ran also said in the same interview that the fate of the two characters were decided even from the start.

“Jang Man-wol was bound to leave while Gu Chan-seong was set to see her off. The relationship of the two was decided in that way from the beginning. The ending scene needed heavy CGI technology, so we finished writing the scripts for the scene a month before the final episode was due to air.”

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The elder sister Jung-eun added, “The purpose of the hotel is comforting the souls of the deceased so that they move on to afterlife. Jang had to leave the hotel and that was the premise of the drama series when we created it in the first place. All the hotel employees could leave the hotel and move on to their next life with pleasure because their pain in this life have vanished.”

Furthermore, the Hong sisters thought Man-wol walking on the Yudo Bridge in style and Chan-seong watching her walk away was a suitable ending for the two characters.

The possibility of a second season?

Meanwhile in the epilogue, actor Kim Soo-hyun showed up as a cameo. He is the new owner of Hotel del Luna but with different look and name called Hotel Blue Moon.

This scene gives up to viewers that there might be a second season of the drama.

However, the sisters stressed that they do not have a detailed plan for a second season yet. The epilogue is added to give viewers the impression that the place for ghosts would remain.

Besides, a representative from tvN announced that it is difficult for them to give an answer on whether there will be second season or not because the staff have never discussed the possibility of a second season.

9.The conflicts behind the production team

In July 2019, a staff member of Human Art, the company working on the set of tvN’s Encounter and Hotel del Luna claimed that they have not been paid for over eight months.

After reporting about the issue to Ministry of Employment and Labour (MOEL), the CEO of Human Art allegedly threatened the staff members by delaying the payment even longer.

In response to the conflict, tvN stated the production company had completed their payment to the set team. It was the set team (Human Art) that did not pay their employees.

10.Was the role of Jang Man-wol solely written for Lee Ji-eun?

It was revealed that the Hong sisters were only willing to make the series if they could cast IU as Man-wol.

“Jang is a complex character with many different sides, from being haughty to charismatic to bossy to pathetic. We thought Ji-eun shares those sentiments with Man-wol. All of us including director Oh Choong-hwan, tried our best to coax her into taking the role,” Mi-ran explained.

The sisters had a plan B in case they could not get Ji-eun in portraying Jang Man-wol, by reversing the relationship and making it the story of male hotel owner and a female manager.

Jung-eun further added, “But if we had to that way, we may have lost some of the originality and wouldn’t be able to talk about reversed gender roles between a female boss and employee. So it had to be Ji-eun no matter what.”

What if Jang Man-wol was a man? As a viewer for the show, do you hope there will be a second season? Can you imagine how the story would have gone if they had carried on Tae-joon’s character? Let us know in the comment box.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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