Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 recap and breakdown

By Daniel Hart
Published: May 20, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
Previous ArticleView all
Netflix K-Drama series Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1


Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 is a highly creative start to the K-drama series with plenty to digest — this series is off to a vibrant start.

This recap of Netflix K-Drama series Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 contains significant spoilers.

Access all the episode recaps.

How does Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 begin?

Like always at the start of a K-drama series, there’s a lot of plot points to make up the base of a story. Let’s break this down. It begins with this Weol-ju erratically destroying a setting near the sacred tree and then looking over a village appearing distressed. Weol-ju is then asked by the Royal Palace to read the Crown Prince’s dreams — he’s on the verge of death. She is shocked, saying there are too many vengeful spirits at the hands of the Royal Family. Weol-ju asks them to move the bodies at the burial and face them to the sun. She comforts the vengeful spirits and the color returns to the Prince’s face. The royal palace state they will compensate Weol-ju. Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 introduces us to a dream-catcher.

What happens to Weol-ju next?

The next day, the Crown Prince keeps smirking randomly and acting strangely. The palace wants to speak to Weol-ju again as they believe he’s been bewitched by the “dream-catcher”. There’s a rumor that the Crown Prince is infatuated by Weol-ju. Suddenly, Weol-ju’s mother, who is a shaman, senses a premonition and tells Weol-ju that she must leave the village immediately and go to her Uncle’s. Her mother tells Weol-ju that they are looking for her head on a stick — she gives her a binyeo for whenever she feels scared and alone and needs extra strength: “Hold on tight”.

When Weol-ju is about to leave the village she sees her house is on fire and her mother is dead — she grieves loudly. She walks through the town shellshocked. We are back to the start of episode 1 where she wrecks the setting near the sacred tree — “Even in my death I curse you all”; Weol-ju shockingly hangs herself. The binyeo drops from her hair and the sacred tree seemingly sets on fire, embers flowing through the air forming some kind of energy balls.

Well, that’s a dark start?

It is but then Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 becomes a quirky, energetic story. One of the energy balls flows through the sky and arrives at a modern city and we are in modern times. Weol-ju is now running a Mystic Pop-Up Bar. Later we see the sign “Mystic Pop-Up Bar 99990”. Weol-ju states that getting up to 100,000 is no joke. Guibanjang states that it serves her right for hanging herself near the sacred tree — he went from killing evil spirits to cutting onions. The episode then shows various scenes of her working at the Mystic Pop-Up Bar and entering people’s dreams to settle grudges and helping them get revenge. Guibanjang tells her she only needs 10 more so she needs to be nicer to her customers. Weol-ju asks how can she compete with the food delivery services.

So essentially, Weol-ju is cursed after what she did many years ago and she must help 100,000 people in order to be freed.

Who is Hang Kang-bae?

Han Kang-bae is working at a store and when he touches customers by accident they pour their heart out to him. After work, he meets Jin-tae who wants to shake his hand but he refuses. A drink spills over him so he gives Jin-tae a tissue and they touch — Jin-tae admits to only meeting Kang-bae as a last resort and that he was taking advantage of him. Han Kang-bae narrates the next scene, saying it’s better to be in the dark about other people’s feelings.

The next day, Song Mi-ran comes across a very rude customer at work and she gets angry at him and they start fighting over tongs over the grill — the customer pushes her over. She throws a steak at him which accidentally hits Han Kang-bae. Weol-ju saw what happened and grabs the customer by the throat and throws him to the floor. The manager asks Song Mi-ran to kneel and apologize despite Han Kang-bae stating they should apologize to each other. Mi-ran walks off and she’s extremely upset.

The turning point

Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 then reveals how these characters are going to interlink. After work, Mi-ran tries walking in front of a moving vehicle but Han Kang-bae saves her and asks if she’d like to go somewhere to eat. They go to the Mystic Pop-Up Bar. Weol-ju serves Mi-ran and asks about her life struggles — she tries offering her special liquid but she refuses. Han Kang-bae walks in. Mi-ran checks out Jang-bae’s face that has been hurt and they touch; she starts confessing to why she moved in front of a truck — it was because of her manager Mr. Park. Mi-ran suddenly wants to tell her story; she used to be a contractor but then Mr. Park hinted that he can promote her to permanent if he can be sexual with her — it made her life miserable.

Weol-ju asks Mi-ran what she wants to do about it but she says nothing. Weol-ju asks Han Kang-bae to leave and sober up. She pours Mi-ran her magical drink and says “bottoms up”. Mi-ran is sleepy all of a sudden. Weol-ju enters Mi-ran’s dream world.

The first dream world of the series

The sexual assault moments between Mi-ran and Mr. Park is showing up on multiple CCTV screens in Mi-ran’s dream world and she’s angry. Weol-ju pretends to be Mi-ran and grills Mr. Park’s hands. Mr. Park runs as he’s scared but Weol-ju keeps appearing in front of him. Han Kang-bae returns to the Mystic Pop-Up Bar and can see it flickering from existence. He walks in and sees Mi-ran is asleep and when he touches her to wake up, he enters the dream world. Han Kang-bae knocks Mr. Park over with a trolley. Weol-ju is confused about how the young boy got into the dream world. Guibanjang turns up and tells Kang-bae that they help people in their dreams by seeking revenge. Guibanjang then confirms that Han Kang Bae’s spiritual vision is unlocked.

Mr. Park’s torment continues.

Weol-ju chases after Mr. Park and he apologizes and asks for forgiveness. Guibanjang grabs Mr. Park by the neck and the manager pees himself so he throws him across the city. Mi-ran locks herself in a room where she can see all this unfold on the CCTV. Han Kang-bae tells her she shouldn’t be embarrassed or scared. He tells her it’s just a dream and when she wakes up, she can get revenge for herself. Mi-ran leaves the room and Weol-ju tells her it’s a dream within the Mystic Pop-Up Bar — Mi-ran promises she won’t live like this again. The next day, in real life, Mi-ran shows the senior manager of the company what Mr. Park did via CCTV; he will be fired. The rude customer then comes in and apologizes to Mi-ran; he was threatened by Guibanjang the night before. No-one has ever apologized to her before.

Hang Kang-bae and Mi-ran do not remember

At first, Han Kang-bae and Mi-ran do not remember the night before but Han Kang-bae is sure something is not right — he picks up the binyeo outside that he finds and realizes what happened the night before was real.

How does Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 end?

Weol-ju is now at 99,991, so she is celebrating. A man arrives with a message from Yeomradaewang. She extends her atonement period; she needs to settle the grudges of 100,000 by the end of the month or she will perish in hell. Weol-ju gets annoyed and says she will just go to hell. Weol-ju suddenly remembers that when Han Kang-bae touches someone, they pour their heart out — she needs his services. Hang Kang-bae and Weol-ju meet on a bridge and Kang-bae reveals that he remembers the dream world. Weol-ju says she will help him but wants something in return — his body, and places the binyeo on him. Mystic Pop-Up Bar episode 1 is a highly creative start to the K-drama series with plenty to digest; this series is off to a vibrant start.

Additional notes
  • Weol-ju wants new ideas to create videos online but Guibanjang rejects that idea and mocks her.
  • Guibanjang tells Weol-ju she has a 500-year sentence.
  • Song Mi-ran has won employee of the month 5 months in a row.

Netflix, TV Recaps
Previous ArticleView all