Hotel King (Ep 1-8 Recap)

Roll out that red carpet.

Roll out that red carpet.


  • Lee Dong-wook as Cha Jae-wan
  • Lee Da-hae as Ah Mo-ne
  • Im Seul-ong as Sun Woo-hyun
  • Wang Ji-hye as Song Chae-kyung
  • Lee Deok-hwa as Lee Joong-goo
  • Kim Hae-sook as Baek Mi-nyeo


  • 32 episodes
  • Original run: April 5, 2014 –

Quick Rundown:

Following the suicide of Ciel Hotel’s Chairman, his daughter, Ah Mo-ne, returns from abroad to inherit and take charge of the hotel. Standing in her way is the stoic hotel manager, Cha Jae-wan, and the manipulative Vice-Chairman, Lee Joong-goo. Brewing beneath the glamorous exterior of the 7-star Ciel Hotel is a struggle for power and revenge that has been decades in the making. As Mo-ne navigates the treacherous paths to power, she will come to rely on the emotionally unavailable Jae-wan, who is seeking revenge on those who ruined his life. Mo-ne must prove herself to be a capable leader of Ciel, while carrying out her own mission of avenging her father’s wrongful death.

Anna’s Rapid Recap

SPOILER ALERT: Do not proceed if you do not want to know what has happened so far!

Episodes 1 & 2

In 1999, a young boy, Jayden, and his “brother,” are being severely beaten by a gangster for not earning enough money through begging. Unable to watch the younger boy get beaten, Jayden attacks and kills the gangster. He is rescued by Lee Joong-goo, who tells Jayden he’s actually the son of Ciel Hotel’s Chairman, Ah Seung-won, and was abandoned as a baby when his father had his mother killed. Joong-goo promises to help Jayden take down the father who ruined his life. In the present time, Cha Jae-wan (formerly “Jayden”), is the General Manager of Ciel Hotel. When he finally confronts Chairman Ah about his true identity, the Chairman vehemently denies being his father. Jae-wan tells him to either acknowledge him as his son or be exposed as a murderer. Faced with this threat, Chairman Ah commits suicide by jumping from his office and landing in the hotel’s pool in full view of the guests. With his death, Chairman Ah’s daughter, Ah Mo-ne returns to Korea from abroad to become the new Chairwoman of Ciel.

Hi Dad.

Hi Dad.

Based on the final phone call he made to her, she’s convinced that her father’s death wasn’t a suicide, but rather a premeditated murder. She acts the part of a spoiled heiress, while secretly stirring up trouble in Ciel to expose the real murderer. While most of the employees view Mo-ne with contempt, Sun Woo-hyun, a concierge with a strong relationship with her father, befriends her. Baek Mi-nyeo, the hotel staff manager with ambiguous loyalties, and Song Chae-kyung, a director on Ciel’s board and Jae-wan’s ex-girlfriend, both act as her guides to Ciel. Mo-ne soon discovers medicine used to treat depression and schizophrenia in her father’s office. Convinced that this is what killed her father, she ramps up her efforts to wreak havoc in the hotel. Little does she know that she’s being watched this entire time, and only figures this out when a secret non-admirer leaves a gift on her bed…a dead pigeon.

Mo-ne was not a fan of her dead bird gift.

Mo-ne was not a fan of her dead bird gift.

Episodes 3 & 4

Mo-ne is not only absolutely convinced that Jae-wan left the dead bird present on her bed as a scare tactic, she thinks that he played a part in her father’s death. In reality, it was Vice-Chairman Joong-goo who prepared the gift. Unable to tolerate her immature behavior at Ciel anymore, Jae-wan drags Mo-ne to the pool where her father died. He tells her that no one forced her father to kill himself and that he only had himself to blame. When he leaves her there, someone comes up from behind and tries to drown her. Fortunately, Woo-hyun comes across her unconscious body soon after and rescues her. A USB flash drive containing video footage of Mo-ne’s drowning later shows up on her desk, and shows the culprit to strongly resemble Jae-wan. Mo-ne elects to not do anything with this evidence yet. Too bad for Jae-wan, Woo-hyun also sees the footage, and confronts him onstage during an introductory meeting for Ciel’s new employees.

Girl, look behind you!

Girl, look behind you!

Mo-ne stops Woo-hyun and announces that what he saw was wrong. Privately, Mo-ne acknowledges that she knows that Jae-wan tried to drown her, but now is not the time to expose him. Woo-hyun apologizes and lies to Jae-wan that his outburst was due to his romantic feelings for Mo-ne. It appears that the drowning scared her enough to stop fighting Jae-wan and Joong-goo, for awhile at least. At an award presentation ceremony for her father, Mo-ne goes off script with her speech. She declares that she’s going to nominate herself as the next Chairwoman of Ciel, and reveals her father’s message to not trust anybody and that he did not commit suicide. Someone had been slowly poisoning him. She pulls out the bag of pills from her father’s office, and drops them to the floor. Jae-wan meets with the Chairman’s doctor and he confesses to following Joong-goo’s orders to prescribe the unnecessary medication to poison Chairman Ah. Horrified that the Chairman was indeed murdered, Jae-wan wants the doctor arrested but is reminded that he’s the one who personally delivered the meds daily to Chairman Ah.

Chairman Ah was not poppin' pills.

Chairman Ah was not poppin’ his pills.

Episodes 5 & 6

When Jae-wan confronts Joong-goo with this revelation, he doesn’t deny it. Joong-goo, however, shows his weakness when Jae-wan threatens to expose him to his daughter. To prevent that, Joong-goo attempts to jump off the roof. Jae-wan reluctantly rescues the old man, paying off the debt of him saving him as a child from the gangster. With this final act, Jae-wan severs his loyalties to Joong-goo. Mo-ne is successfully voted in as the new Chairwoman of Ciel, but with the condition that she improves Ciel’s profits by 100% in 3 months time. While walking around the hotel with Jae-wan, she notices that her bracelet is missing and wrongly accuses an employee of stealing it. He had run away from her because he used a false identity due to the fact that he served a 3-year murder sentence. Feeling guilty, Mo-ne rehires the boy, but he’s now ostracized by the other employees because of his past. Feeling slighted, he goes to set fire to a hotel kitchen, only to be confronted by Mo-ne before he’s able to light it. As she’s about to successfully dissuade him from arson, someone enters and lights the gasoline-drenched room.

Jump, I dare ya.

Jump, I dare ya.

With the kitchen engulfed in flames, the hotel staff helplessly waits for the fire dept to arrive. Woo-hyun, the ever loyal employee, rushes into the fire. Upon hearing what happened, Chae-kyung tries to prevent Jae-wan from going into the fire, but he simply explains that he cannot let Mo-ne die. Wielding a fire extinguisher, Jae-wan saves the three of them, but tells Woo-hyun to never mention him being there. Woo-hyun soon breaks his promise when he blurts out to Mo-ne that Jae-wan was the one who rescued them. The real arsonist is revealed to be one of Ciel’s directors, following Joong-goo’s orders. Joong-goo feigns innocence when asked, of course. Mo-ne is grateful towards Jae-wan, and when she rewatches the drowning footage, she realizes that the man who tried to drown her wore different shoes from Jae-wan. She goes to his house to apologize for her misjudgment of him, and finds him bandaging his wounds without his shirt on. She sees his body is covered with old scars and a massive tattoo of wings on his back.

Well...this must've been awkward.

Well…this must’ve been awkward.

Episodes 7 & 8

Mo-ne looks into Jae-wan’s background, and discovers that he was adopted. She assumes his adoptive parents caused the scars on his body. After learning about Jae-wan’s tragic past and how he saved her, Mo-ne feels increased compassion for him. Things at Ciel take a sad turn when a hotel guest with a young son becomes ill and collapses. Not wanting to frighten the little boy with the news of his father’s hospitalization, Mo-ne and Jae-wan agree to take care of him for the night. They’re able to distract the boy from noticing his father’s absence, while becoming friendlier with each other in the process. Mo-ne wakes up in the middle of the night and cries while looking at the bruises on Jae-wan’s hands. He awakes to this and is genuinely moved by her actions.

The Babysitters Club

With Joong-goo scheming against both of them now, Jae-wan is suspicious of everyone, particularly a new Ciel employee. After discovering a hidden camera in her house, Mo-ne tells Jae-wan that she completely trusts him and asks for his protection. He’s taken aback, but agrees. Later at Chae-kyung’s restaurant opening, Jae-wan is called away from his post. During this time, the suspicious new employee approaches Mo-ne while reaching into his coat pocket. Thinking that he will attack her, Jae-wan tackles him and grabs Mo-ne. The media immediately turns it into a romantic scandal between the Chairwoman and GM of Ciel. Joong-goo taunts Jae-wan for starting a scandal with his younger sister and leading her on. Scared of what she will do when she discovers their sibling relationship, Jae-wan does the noble thing and apologizes to Joong-goo for betraying him, in order to secretly protect Mo-ne. As Joong-goo beats Jae-wan for his disloyalty, Mo-ne witnesses him just quietly accepting the beating.



This & That:

  • This drama is the reunion of My Girl co-stars, Lee Dong-wook and Lee Da-hae. LDW was also a hotelier in My Girl.
  • Im Seul-ong of Korean boyband, 2 AM, stars as the loyal Sun Woo-hyun.
  • Alex of Korean band, Clazziquai, plays one of Ciel’s managers.
A "My Girl" Reunion after 9 years!

My Girl reunion after 9 years!


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