Mystic Pop-Up Bar: Unearthing This Underrated Gem

Based on the popular homonymous Webtoon by Bae Hye-soo, Mystic Pop-Up Bar is a magical, nostalgia-infused K-drama that takes us on a journey through time and emotions. At its heart, this enchanting series introduces us to the mystical world of a pojangmacha, a tent bar that holds a significant place in Korean culture—a place where stories unravel, friendships blossom, and wounds are healed. The moment you step inside, you’ll feel the warmth of its atmosphere, the clinking of soju glasses, and the aroma of comforting dishes. It’s a setting that’s become iconic in the world of K-dramas, often serving as a backdrop for characters to drown their sorrows, celebrate victories, and connect with strangers who soon become friends.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

As the series unfolds, Mystic Pop-Up Bar invites us to step beyond the realm of the ordinary. Its unique premise brings together the living and the supernatural, weaving a tapestry of captivating narratives that traverse time and space. At its core, this is a story about redemption, forgiveness, and the extraordinary power of empathy, transcending genres and leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of its viewers. So, if you’re ready to dive into a world where the lines between reality and the supernatural blur, come join me in exploring the wonders of Mystic Pop-Up Bar. Your next remarkable K-drama journey awaits.

In the vast realm of K-dramas, I often find myself on a unique journey—one where I dig deep to unearth the not-so-recent treasures, hoping to catch up with the ones I’ve missed along the way. It’s a quest that’s led me down countless paths, sometimes ending in disappointment as I drop one series after another. But every so often, amidst the sea of titles, I stumble upon true gems that make the entire odyssey worthwhile. Among these hidden treasures, Mystic Pop-Up Bar emerges as a shining star. This supernatural, fantasy-infused tale, expertly woven with elements of contemporary and time period drama, has become an unexpected favorite of my 2023 watchlist. Its enchanting narrative and rich character development offer an experience that transcends the boundaries of time and genre. Allow me to take you on a journey through the mystic doors of this captivating series, where worlds converge, secrets are unveiled, and a heartfelt adventure awaits.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

What Is This About?

Long story short: Wol-Joo, a woman who appears to be in her thirties but is actually many centuries older, was sentenced by the Afterlife to assist 100,000 souls within 500 years as retribution for a somewhat convoluted past. If she succeeds, she will be reincarnated into her next life and be free of her current problems; however, if she fails, she will spend all of eternity in Hell. The clock is ticking when a very special person appears in her life. Showcasing her struggles to settle her score, as well as side stories that mingle with the main plot, Mystic Pop-Up Bar has it all — heart, love, humor, and the paranormal. Here are five of the main reasons why this is a hidden gem that should be granted more praise.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Mystic Pop-Up Bar achieves its innovative brilliance by brilliantly blending elements of fantasy and realism within a realm already familiar to K-drama enthusiasts. It seamlessly combines the ordinary with the supernatural, crafting a narrative where the two coexist in perfect harmony. This harmonious coexistence transcends traditional genre boundaries and redefines storytelling, presenting viewers with a captivating and refreshing approach that continually surprises and enchants.

Furthermore, Mystic Pop-Up Bar fearlessly navigates through intricate themes with incredible finesse. It courageously explores profound concepts like redemption, forgiveness, and the immeasurable impact of empathy in a way that’s both fresh and deeply moving. This series consistently demonstrates that it isn’t confined by the traditional norms of storytelling, allowing it to break new ground and offer a remarkable narrative that captivates the hearts of its viewers. By breaking free from the shackles of conventional storytelling, Mystic Pop-Up Bar provides an exceptional viewing experience that is both exciting and heartwarming, ultimately redefining the expectations of K-drama enthusiasts.

A Perfect Fuse For A Perfect “Drink”

Featuring unique, endearingly quirky characters, and alternating serious dramas with moments of humorous narration, lighthearted comedy, and heartwarming moments, this K-drama can become a tearjerker at times — so, you will be taken on a rollercoaster ride filled with emotional elicitation if you join their journey. Even though this is an episodic drama, focusing on the settling of grudges carried by usually one person per chapter, the character development, world-building and storytelling are so well-conducted that you can’t help but love — or hate — the main and the side characters, whose problems are very relatable, and even with the supernatural elements in this low fantasy series, not at all otherworldly for most of the time. This well-mixed “drink” of a K-drama maintains its dramatic elements while adding spice to the blend with comical ones.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar not only serves up an enticing story but also provides a unique glimpse into Korean culture, where drinking transcends its physical act and becomes an essential part of social bonding. The magical tent bar, the heart of this enchanting drama, serves as a backdrop to explore the profound connections between alcohol, food, and camaraderie. In Korean society, these pop-up tents are places where friendships are forged and secrets are shared over shots of soju. It’s where the weight of the world can be momentarily lifted with a good meal and a friendly drink. The series cleverly uses these settings to weave a beautiful narrative that underscores the importance of these moments in people’s lives.

The Perfect Main Trio

The trio trope is a very common one, and it is not exclusive to Korean or even Asian dramas. While some trios are very unbalanced in fiction, Mystic Pop-Up Bar makes great use of it, and that ends up working pretty well because the three leads are so wonderfully cast and have great chemistry on screen. Hwang Jung-Eum plays Wol-Ju (Kill Me, Heal Me, To All The Guys Who Loved Me, Can You Heal My Heart?), who is hot-tempered, sometimes bordering on the irascible, but not without a strong sense of justice, one of her fortes, which was reinforced by her decision in the season finale.

The K-drama’s portrayal of a dynamic trio is a narrative pattern that transcends cultural borders and resonates with a global audience. Mystic Pop-Up Bar demonstrates a unique and nuanced adaptation of this trope, leveraging the exceptional chemistry among the lead actors to create an engaging and balanced ensemble. Hwang Jung-Eum’s portrayal of Wol-Ju, a character with a fiery yet justifiable temperament, serves as an exquisite representation of this archetype. Her multifaceted personality, marked by a profound sense of justice, lends depth and authenticity to the story, showcasing the character’s evolution in the season finale. This thematic versatility is not exclusive to K-dramas but stands as a testament to the genre’s ability to explore universal character dynamics and narratives, providing a rich opportunity to delve into Korean culture, storytelling, and the world of webtoons in an enjoyable and immersive way.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

As the story unfolds, you’ll notice that one of the guys seems like Wol-Ju’s polar opposite, while the other plays the role of a mediator, skillfully maintaining a harmonious balance between them. It’s in this narrative journey that we embark on a heartwarming and amusing exploration of the profound connections that tie this trio together. Prepare to be swept away by the delightful blend of emotion and humor that unravels throughout the series.

No Need To Be The Fabulous To Have A Parade Of Delightful Outfits

Fashion-focused Korean dramas are not the only ones that have adorable dresses, fantastic attire, and accessories. Fashion enthusiasts will also enjoy Mystic Pop-up Bar since it offers one-of-a-kind ensembles that merge current apparel with traditional Korean outfits to create a distinctive visual style, with a perfect combination of diverse accessories, fashionable contemporary apparel, and traditional Korean hanboks. For this K-drama, the stylist team created a fascinating sense of style that spectators could enjoy and take inspiration from.

Beyond the realm of fashion-focused Korean dramas, which are renowned for their charming dresses and captivating attire, Mystic Pop-up Bar stands out as a delightful choice for fashion enthusiasts. It seamlessly weaves together contemporary fashion and traditional Korean attire, offering a unique and visually striking style. With a harmonious fusion of diverse accessories, trendy modern clothing, and traditional Korean hanboks, the show’s costume designers have crafted a captivating sense of style that both captivates the audience and provides a source of inspiration. As you immerse yourself in this K-drama, you’ll gain not only an entertaining narrative but also a window into the world of contemporary and Joseon-era Korean fashion.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Food For Thought, Comfort Food, Delicious Food!

Beneath the humor and levity of Mystic Pop-Up Bar lies a profound exploration of the physical, emotional, and psychological scars left by deep-seated societal issues like classism, prejudice, bullying, and betrayals. The narrative encourages viewers to delve into contemplative realms, probing questions of religion, morality, and the complex tapestry of social concerns. Within this context, the series thrives in a traditional Korean pojangmacha, a setting that not only adds depth to the plot but also introduces audiences to the delectable world of Korean cuisine. As the characters savor dishes like grilled mackerel and steamed dumplings, the show becomes a culinary journey in itself.

Here, the rich tapestry of Korean food culture is artfully woven into the storyline, serving as a visual and sensory reminder. It beckons not only to those with plans to visit Korea in the future but also to anyone with access to Korean restaurants, anime enthusiasts exploring the essence of East Asian cultures, or those simply intrigued by the importance of food in the lives of people from this vibrant part of the world. It’s an invitation to savor the flavors of Korea, a gesture that transcends screens and bridges cultures, making Mystic Pop-Up Bar more than just a K-drama—it’s an odyssey through the heart of Korean customs, brimming with life’s essential ingredients: love, healing, and gastronomic delight.


Bonus: The source material for this adaptation has almost all of its chapters named after a special food item portrayed in the story.

Romance Is Top On The Menu

In the mystical realm of Mystic Pop-Up Bar, where the living and the afterlife converge, the enchanting dance of romance takes center stage. Wol-Joo, with her extraordinary ability to traverse these realms, embarks on a heartfelt mission. Her pop-up bar becomes the conduit for wandering souls in search of peace and happiness, offering them an opportunity to heal and find solace. Within this ethereal tapestry, themes of forgiveness, redemption, new beginnings, and the pursuit of contentment weave their way into the narrative’s core.

Romance, a quintessential component of human experience, holds a pivotal role in Wol-Joo’s mission and storyline. As she endeavors to guide souls toward love and inner peace, she inadvertently embarks on her own profound journey. Through helping others mend the frayed threads of their past, Wol-Joo finds herself slowly stitching together the fragments of her own life. In this captivating interplay, the tendrils of romance unfurl, bestowing the gift of love not just upon the lost souls but upon the very fabric of the story itself.

This K-drama beautifully captures the essence of Korean culture, where the quest for healing and connection extends beyond the earthly plane. It’s a reminder that love is a universal force, transcending time, life, and death and that the path to redemption is often paved with the profound connections we forge along the way. In Mystic Pop-Up Bar, romance is not merely a subplot; it’s a poignant thread that stitches together the tapestry of existence, enriching the lives of the living and the departed alike.


The lack of the worn-out, bothersome, and unwelcome love-triangle trope is another high point of this K-drama, which portrays and follows love stories from different types of couples, from the blossoming feelings of young adults to sympathetic elderly couples and high-profile star-crossed lovers, the variety of love stories presented in Mystic Pop-Up Bar is another delicious dish in its menu.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar

Verdict: The End Is The Beginning, Not The End

At the very end of the series, Wol-Joo breaks the fourth wall, and we are “officially” invited to “drink” from and join the Mystic Pop-Up Bar. And what does that mean? Besides the clear invitation to reflect on everything that we had just watched — and yes, this series is highly binge-watchable! — and ponder on its powerful messages, this breaking of the fourth wall also tells us that the end is not really the end, as life goes on after the slices of life that the show portrayed.

As Wol-Joo, the bar’s enigmatic owner, breaks the fourth wall to invite us into her world, she leaves us with more than just a farewell. The intriguing parting gesture, like the entire series, holds a profound meaning. It’s an invitation to linger in the aftertaste of the narrative and continue savoring the rich flavors of life and storytelling. Mystic Pop-Up Bar encourages us to think beyond the screen, nudging us to examine the stories we encounter daily, the relationships we form, and the culture we share. Life’s chapters don’t conclude when the curtain falls, and as we accept Wol-Joo’s invitation, we embark on a journey of reflection and connection that extends far beyond the final episode.

All in all, Mystic Pop-Up Bar is a masterclass in storytelling, where seemingly simple interactions are enriched with layers of significance. Mystic Pop-Up Bar transcends the realm of ordinary television and becomes a compelling argument for the power of storytelling and its ability to explore and celebrate the intricacies of culture, relationships, and the shared experiences that unite us all. This K-drama isn’t just a series; it’s a vivid portrayal of the very essence of life, encapsulated within a humble pop-up bar where the magic of storytelling unfolds.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Beatrix Kondo is a freelance writer based in Canoas, RS, Brazil. She is also a translator working on her specialization course in writing.

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  1. Different

    I like the premise. Looks a bit overacted for my taste, but still fun. I shall set aside time to watch this

  2. I fall in love with sungjae after I watched this drama… he is too cute and innocent here. No one can resist his cuteness.

  3. Just watched EP1 last night. Honestly I’m watching this just because of Sung Jae. Don’t know why but the first EP is kind of slow and boring. I wonder if I should continue watching it or not!

  4. If you love Mystic pop-up bar, you will like “Hotel del luna” about a girl who is the owner of an hotel for ghosts! She is sticked to a tree because she also killed people, I loved Hotel del luna and mystic pop-up bar.

    • More KDrama recommendations:
      1.) Itaewon Class
      2.) Hi, Bye Mama!
      3.) Extracurricular
      4.) Extraordinary You

  5. Georgia

    I LOVE Korean drama exactly because it mixes humorous moments even into the most serious and dramatic material. Korean drama takes you on the journey of its stories, making it blatantly clear that it is fiction, but nevertheless captivating the viewer often to the point of shedding tears. Think of Rookie Historian; Jekyll, Hyde, me; 49 Days; and there’s an airport drama with a guy who’s got a bionic arm (forgot the title), all brilliant!

    • The series was called “Where Stars Land”. An excellent plot with nail-biting drama and suspense.

  6. They said that this show’s story was ended conclusively, I disagree completely with that statement due to the fact we never learned if Won Hyung’s plans for a coup to seize the throne was to truly get back at his for ignoring him or was it his ambition to be king all along due to fact that he sees the king and Hon Yi as weak on the account they’re both are too much of a “soft touch”.

    If the show was 20 to 30 episodes long rather than 12, they could’ve explored this more and could’ve revealed a plot between Won Hyung and the regional governor who could be corrupt. Plus they also shed light on what the greater threat he would’ve caused if he had lived that was mentioned.Also they they could’ve added more romance plots between Kang Bae and Yeo Rin by having the actor playing Kang Bae also play the physical form of the spirit essence of the sacred tree and was in a relationship with the spirit essence of the cinnabar 1,000 years ago and was forcibly ended and any memories of it removed by the gods for certain reasons

  7. Trevino

    I´m loving this drama so far!

  8. It only have 12 episodes. I think it´s quite refreshing, not focused in romance but with good characters, good stories, comedy and drama and myhtology, I love that mixture! I watched some kdramas, and “Nine” (“Nine time travels” check this out!) and “Kingdom” are two of my favourites. Also “Faith”, altough it´s not perfect haha.

  9. This drama is so good but so underrated. Thanks for bringing it to the masses!

  10. I added this to my watchlist but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Still trying to finish Extracurricular. My favorite kdramas on netflix are Stranger, Memories of the Alhambra, Romance is a Bonus Book, Arthdal Chronicles, One Spring Night, When the Camellia Blossoms, Kingdom, My Country the new age, Secret Affair, Hyena, Chicago Typewriter, Tunnel, Life, Misaeng, Signal. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.

    • Haven’t seen some of those. Adding to the list. Thanks very much.

  11. I will check it out. My favourite Netflix K-dramas are: I am not a robot, Itaewon class, Tomorrow with you, Arthdal Chronicles, Because this is my first life, Romance is a bonus book, The greatest love, Secret, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Oh my ghost. All very good.

  12. I watched Mystic pop-up bar and i loved it.

  13. I like this show. I am tired of supermen, politically correct western cinema. Endless remakes when you lost the track of time, where is the beginning of say avengers or Star Wars, is there the end? Korean shows are fresh to me so far. So many twists, and productions are normally great.

  14. ep4-ep5 shocked me. deep storyline starts from the end of ep4

  15. Thank you so much I really enjoy reading you beautiful articles . So interesting

  16. Jaelynn

    The first K-drama I watched on Netflix is called Black. Without giving away much it’s about a girl who can see the death of people she sees. It would be slightly boring if that were it but I can’t give away anything else. All I can say is it’s a bit dark but I liked it a lot. It was also very interesting and a lot could be missed if the viewer isn’t paying attention.

  17. Armstrong

    I am actually enjoying Mystic Pop-Up Bar!

  18. Watch kdrama “Stranger”. It is also called “Secret forest”. It is the best thriller drama in Kdrama history.

  19. I started this drama after seeing that Choi Won Young would be playing a main role lol. Right now I’m feeling 50/50 because the storyline is a bit ehhhh but I’m weirdly attached to the characters (it also gave me Hotel del Luna vibes and I dropped it after ep 4 so that’s not a good sign I guess).

  20. A nice refreshing drama to escape with!

  21. For me, it’s one of the best “slice of life with supernatural theme in mixed” kind KDrama that I’ve watched, cried a bucket on episode 2, and the last 2 episode.

  22. Loved this show so much. My happy ending was them being all together again and I got it!

  23. Michelle

    I really enjoyed this series, the characters, background music and story. It wasn’ t clear to me where the Spirit tree power that was in Kang Bae went. Also, I really would have enjoyed a bit more of the Cinnabar story after the fighting. After TKEM , this series was so full of humor and emotion! I loved Kang Bae last words “ I’m here..”

  24. Just watched the first few episodes today, and loved it so far. I am still confused why they changed the main character’s actress from the past to present though.

    • I’m thinking maybe because she’s a spirit now and when spirits go into the living world they can’t look like they originally did? Something like that is what I’m guessing. Also they probably just needed a way to show the actress who is actually playing the character.

  25. Underrated drama 😭

  26. I regret not watching this earlier. Nevertheless I loved it and I’m going to watch it again and again.

  27. melania

    I love this drama. Glad to see good piece on it. 🧡

  28. I tried so hard not too but I kept falling asleep watching the show.

  29. You are the reason why I just started watching mystic pop up bar! and I’m enjoying it.

  30. Nice show, but I think they could’ve done more with the story by extending the show 8 to 12 episodes for a decent story, 18 max for a solid definitive story and by introducing additional support characters. The plots decent but lacks clarity on the motives of certain characters,plus there are several unanswered questions.

  31. Loved all the cast of Mystic Pop-up Bar and expecting season 2 with the same cast.

  32. I just finished this show. It was so amazing! You get to learn a bit about Korean culture, history and food, also each episode had a story to tell and a lesson to teach. I loved it sooo much. I highly recommend it.

  33. Highly recommended drama!!! The storyline is so good and interesting.

  34. Just stated watching this drama…. so good so far, laughed a lot.

  35. I think it’ll be a perfect mixture of fantasy+comedy. Don’t know about romance though.

  36. Elpis1988

    I enjoyed reading this. Nice work 🙂

  37. Siothrún

    As someone who participated in the revision of this article, it is great to see it generating so much discussion on the site! I really enjoyed seeing how this article has changed, and plan on checking out the show myself!

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