Starring: Hwang Jung-Eum, Choi Won-Young, Yook Sung-Jae, Joon Hyuk Lee etc.
Number of episodes: 12
Mystic Pop-Up Bar (MPB) is a drama that centers around Wol-Joo (Hwang Jung-Eum), who is the owner of a street stall. While the stall appears to be normal, Wol-Joo, together with her partner Chief Gwi (Choi Won-Young) are spirits whom are in the human realm working to help 100,000 grievances/grudges in the dream realm- the punishment that Wol-Joo had to complete for the crimes that she have committed before her death.
As Wol-Joo almost complete her goal, she found that increasingly, it was difficult to get people to open and talk about their troubles so that she could help them in the dream realm. Just as she was troubled, she crossed paths with Han Kang-Bae (Yook Sung-Jae), whom have a special ability that allow people to confide in him upon physical contact.
Realising Kang-Bae’s ability would be helpful in completing her goals, Wol-Joo recruited Kang-Bae as a part timer, while promising him that she will cure him.
The trio then started to work together in listening to the stories of others, and devise ways to help them solve their problems for Wol-Joo to achieve her goal.
Chief Gwi is a knight in shining black armour (since he came from the afterlife police agency). While he and Wol-Joo had a lot of bantering scenes, he would always take care of Wol-Joo in times of crisis.
And while he is Wol-Joo’s partner, there are couple of scenes that shows us his life as part of the afterlife police agency whenever he was out catching dark spirits. (Which means things do get fantastical whenever Chief Gwi fights). He is also the dependable “ah-jussi” towards Kang-Bae, often taking care of him as well whenever Wol-Joo is in a bad mood.
Han Kang-bae is someone who used to be afraid of human touch since young; as people would confide in him whenever they have physical contact with him. His special ability have resulted in him to be single and alone for most occasions until he met Wol-Joo and Chief Gwi.
Since meeting the two of them, Kang-Bae slowly understand how his ability could actually helped people with grievances/grudge feel better. Through the drama, Kang-Bae slowly walked towards the path of normalcy; even having a shot in falling in love.
On the surface, Wol-Joo appears to be someone whom hated humans, as they were the result that she died and had to be punished in the first place. However, underneath that surface, she was someone who actually have a soft spot for those who are in need of help. (For example, Kang-Bae, whom she nags and throw temper at him right at the start, but dotes on him in actual fact). She is also someone whom would go through any lengths to get the things that she wanted, even at the risk of sacrificing her own life.
Though because of her short temper, she often make mistakes that have bad repercussions, which at times, Chief Gwi would have to step in to help her out.
Personally, I felt that this drama was overshadowed. What was interesting was that given this drama was on Netflix, it was not a drama that viewers picked up. What I saw on my Instagram feed was very often either <The King – Eternal Monarch> or <It’s Okay to Not be Okay> as I slowly conquer this drama.
Also, I must admit I thought this drama would follow the concept of Hotel De Luna when I first started watching and that I would be bored after a while give that it has to do with the female lead making a mistake and have to be punished for it.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with how the story picks off after the first 2 episodes. The plot was interesting, there are a couple of plot twists and the last two episodes were intense, which make me love it.
Acting wise, I have seen Choi Won-Young and Yook Sung-Jae in other drama before. It was my first time catching Hwang Jung-Eum’s drama. Personally I like the chemistry between Choi Won-Young and Hwang Jung-Eum – I had a few “awww” moments watching the both of them.
For Yook Sung-Jae, the drama that I saw him in was <The Lonely and Great God – Goblin>, which was another hit drama, but Sung-Jae then did not take on the leading role; more towards the supporting role. In MPB, I feel that Sung-Jae was able to show more of his acting, which I thought have improved. (He was also the main reason why I picked up MPB in the first place).
Personally, I feel that MPB was a great drama and it was definitely a time well spent as I enjoyed it. Definitely recommend this!
Mystic Pop-up Bar is available on Netflix.
Photo source (and credits): Here