TvN’s Saturday-Sunday drama “Hotel Del Luna” recorded its highest viewership rating over the weekend with Sunday’s episode peaking at 9.7 percent with an average viewership rating of 8.7 percent. The numbers are higher than the ratings peak for “Arthdal Chronicles,” that was shown in the same slot, which was at 7.7 percent.
Initial expectations had not been too high, as the drama was scheduled to air between the second and the third part of “Arthdal Chronicles,” a blockbuster production with a reported budget of 54 billion won ($45.7 million).
Poster image for “Hotel Del Luna” (CJ ENM)
Star scriptwriter pair Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran, widely known as Hong sisters, had a tough time with recent productions “Warm and Cozy” (2015) and “Hwayugi” (2017). “Hotel Del Luna” is the sisters’ 12th co-production.
The casting also left many in doubt. Though IU, 26, has been on a winning streak with her choice of dramas, including “My Mister” (2018), Yeo Jin-goo, 22, has had his ups and downs.
IU (right) and Yeo Jin-goo pose for photos during a press conference held on July 8 at Imperial Palace in southern Seoul. (CJ ENM)
The storyline evolves around Jang Man-wol (IU), the owner of Hotel Del Luna, a hotel for spirits who have just died. Cursed with living forever, she hires the unwilling Goo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo) to manage the hotel, gifting him with the ability to communicate with sprits.
At the hotel, Goo sees to it that guests feel comforted, satisfying their unfulfilled desires in life. Some evil spirits are ready to take control of the weak-hearted Goo, but Jang always shows up to save him.
It was the first time that IU has partnered with a younger, less-experienced male actor. The relationship between the two is the reverse of what viewers saw in “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God” (2016-2017).
In that drama, the female lead (Kim Go-eun) was the delicate human-being who sees ghosts and the almighty male lead (Gong Yoo) protects her no matter what. Jang and Goo’s relationship works the other way around.
As Jang, IU exhibits a sense of eternal loneliness hidden beneath a cranky and grumpy temper. Her stylish outfits are also a draw. Her mostly retro-style looks, include dramatic wide brim hats and long draped silk skirts.
The Hong sisters have been famous for their charming female characters, creating memorable lead roles for Han Ye-seul in “Couple or Trouble” (2006), Shin Min-a in “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” (2010) and Gong Hyo-jin in “Master’s Sun” (2013). It seems like IU is about to take up the baton.
Yeo, on the other hand, is an actor who has been working hard to shake off the image he developed as a child actor. His acting had been somewhat stiff at the beginning, trying too hard, perhaps. But as the story develops, he has been blending in with the whole picture.
On Sunday, Jang realizes she has fallen in love with Goo and wonders whether Goo is a reincarnation of her past lover.
The 16-episode airs at 9 p.m. on cable channel tvN.
By Im Eun-byel (firstname.lastname@example.org)