Recap: What's Up Episode 20

Last. Episode. Epic. Stuff.

Episode 20

This episode opens with the same ominous montage of our protagonists, all dressed in black and saddled with the saddest expression, heading for somewhere. Except after 20 episodes, we are now more acquainted with these people and the places. And at this point I guess the safest bet would be they are heading to Sun’s funeral…

Sun is wheeled into the emergency department where the medical staff thinks he’s slipping into a coma. Doo-ri and Jae-hun waits anxiously in the hospital. In the campus, even Soo-bin is having a tough time concentrating while Byung-gun numbs himself by practicing his dance routines until he collapses in exhaustion.

In a secluded room, Do-sung embraces his Hades personality and breaks into a song…only to be caught in the act by none other than Chae-young. He explains awkwardly that he’s just imitating Hades but Chae-young is more interested in the reason for the secrecy. She dismisses his further feeble attempts to pretend otherwise and settles down comfortably on a chair, all ready for a long talk.

Lady doctor finally offers an update on Sun’s condition. Sun may vacillate in between consciousness from now on. He will continue to lose his strength and at times the ability to recognize familiar faces….until the moment he dies. He hasn’t got much time left since his liver is failing, blood pressure is dropping and he’s having respiratory problems. Doo-ri can hardly stand from the shock as Jae-hun supports her. Seeing this, lady doctor advises her to be strong since the mental state of the guardian will influence the patient.

Jae-hun looks on while Doo-ri tells a barely conscious Sun that he can’t leave yet, because he promised to watch their musical. And if he was lying about that, she’ll never forgive him. In reply, Sun raises his hand and ruffles her head. And gawd it breaks my heart to see her struggling to keep herself from breaking down but failing miserably. She runs away from the room and Sun signals to Jae-hun to approach the bed.

Meanwhile, Chae-young makes Do-sung a proposition. Sign a contract with her for 5 years. She’ll be responsible for all his activities during that period. And she’ll handle that pesky reporter, so his secret is safe. His uncle cannot be his manager, especially since he can’t even handle a third rate reporter. But he can be the driver, since they’d need one anyway. Do-sung explains he promised to stay low-profile when he enrolled in the school but Chae-young tells him to break that promise. Hah. He tries to impress on her that it’s his family problem, but Chae-young is not interested in his family or his secret. In fact, she tells him to inform his family he’s being threatened – to sign up with Eun Chae-young or risk having his secret exposed on the internet that weekend.

Do-sung is surprised Chae-young has resorted to threats, but Chae-young is unapologetic, admitting it’s one of her favourite tricks. It annoys her that people like him are wasting their talents. She accepts that she’ll remain a B-grade actress no matter how hard she works, but one thing for sure she has a good eye, special A-grade. Hah. Do-sung is still uncertain but Chae-young knows he yearns to be Hades. Why else would he practice in secret at night in secluded store rooms like this? Till when is he planning to live like this? Is that even living? He’s Hades. King of the underworld. She is merely a collector of such Kings, out to create history. Dignifiedly. Well, well, well…look who decided to take up Sun’s advice. Finally her bitchiness has some use!

Sun weakly runs through the script with Jae-hun, offering opinions here and there while the scenes from practice are also shown in between. There’s one which Byung-gun boasts of having A-grade acting and another in which Ka-young and Seong-jae reenacts the father-daughter argument whereby the daughter wants to be a star but dad opposes. Jae-hun wants Ka-young to immerse herself into the character instead of worrying about how she looks and Doo-ri makes amendments to her script, which everyone else thinks is too extreme. J The practice scenes were actually pretty heart-warming if it weren’t for the alternate scenes of an ill Sun reciting from the script. Sigh.

Sun wakes up in the hospital to a surprise guest – Prof Yang. He asks about classes. She tells him that classes have been postponed so that the students can prepare for the musical, and there’s only 2 weeks left. Their musicals have been combined and the students have been practicing seriously. Truth is, she has not much faith in them. Anyone can work hard but more importantly they have to do well.

Sun marvels that she’s echoing Eun-hye’s views. Which shouldn’t be a surprise since Eun-hye was Prof Yang’s disciple – she must have learned it from Yang. Then again, could it be Yang who adopted the view from Eun-hye? Heh. If that is the case, he’d have to take issue with Eun-hye if he meets her since Prof Yang apparently loves her so much that she kept bullying him.

Sun wants to make another final wish – he wants her to prevent Doo-ri from watching him go…by any means possible. Yang assures him that she’ll remind Doo-ri to focus on the musical because Prof Sun will be watching. Yang asks if he’ll be attending the musical. Reminding him it’s only two weeks away. Wiping away tears, she grumbles that the students still need to come up with a proper stage set-up, lighting and costumes and it’s killing her not to interfere. The students are working hard for his sake so he’d better not disappoint them. Sun says weakly: “Ahjumma… I’m very happy. Ahjumma…aren’t you jealous?” T.T (Sobbing my eyes out now…L)

Yoo-jin shows up with her troupes, and the drawing plans for the stage. She asks for the funds. Byung-gun reveals their collection, which amounts to 216,430 won (equivalent to approximately USD 193). All that for the stage, lighting and costumes. In 12 days time! Yoo-jin asks if they’re nuts. Jae-hun replies cheerfully that that’s precisely what they’re aiming for. Heh. Her troupes shake their heads while Jae-hun and gang looks at her pleadingly.

She scans their faces and sees her idol, Soo-bin also with a silent plea….and declare it’s a deal. LOL. On one condition though, they’ll need to help out since the designing department is short-staffed. Not a problem. J

And so the stage preparations and practice begin in earnest with the students totally enjoying themselves. And we have another sequence of Byung-gun singing ‘Those Magic Changes’. Man I love his voice, can never tire of listening to him sing!

Jae-hun makes everyone go through the sequence again, like a mother hen. Cute. Director Kang watches from the door. Meanwhile, Secretary Oh is unhappy that Chae-young is taking over his plan. Well, technically it’s her plan so he shouldn’t be complaining. What’s more, she’d prevented a potentially career-destructive report of him from surfacing in the media, so he should really be thankful to her. Serves you right!

Apparently there’s a reason for their presence here today. Chae-young wants Kang to invest in the musical, a fusion musical where they’ll incorporate hip hop and classical elements into the music. But first, she wants to be appointed project producer! Kang is iffy about that…until she reveals her trump card – Hades. Of course, it’ll be a masked Hades because she needs to protect his anonymity. Chae-young is proving to be quite the negotiator as she asks for yet another condition – she wants them to take care of a certain reporter. One of the rare times I love her scheming smile. J

The students have been working round the clock for some time now so it’s inevitable that they are bound to be overcome by exhaustion. Jae-hun takes five by himself in the park, thinking about Tae-hee. He whistles to himself on the way back before realizing belatedly he’s not alone. Mr red-tracksuit ghost is looking at him tearfully. The ghost glances behind and Jae-hun follows his gaze to find a desolate-looking Prof Yang. When Jae-hun turns back to him, the ghost is gone.

Prof Yang looks at Jae-hun with a stony expression. OMG…The two of them show up before the class in the same grave expression as one after another the students register their somber countenance. Byung-gun wakes Doo-ri up for the inevitable. Doo-ri asks anxiously that it isn’t so but receives no reply. She cries heartbreakingly as her classmates gather around to offer comfort and solace. T.T

It’s the funeral and we can see a large collage of Sun’s profile in the corner, made up entirely of photos of the students. Everyone is in attendance, the teachers and the students, even the elusive school Chairman.

One of them is outside – Jae-hun on the steps of the church murmuring his prayers. Tae-hee shows up for the first time since their break-up and walks into his arms, sobbing into his chest, united once more in their grief.

Finally, Doo-ri makes her entrance and reads her eulogy.

DR: Prof Sun Woo-young, we are gathered here today to send you on your journey. When you entered our class one year ago, we thought a beggar had mistakenly stumbled into the school. Truth be told, your first class was meaningless…why? Because it’s the first time we saw someone like you – a free-spirited soul. That’s the kind of person you were – always true to yourself. Teacher were…

Doo-ri is sobbing so hard she can barely continue when suddenly a whistle rings out loud and clear in the church. Everyone looks to the source of that whistling and it’s Jae-hun!
Whistling the tune from their What’s Up theme song…followed by Do-sung…and Byung-gun…and pretty much all the first years. Then, Soo-bin plays the violin from the front and all the first years proceed to rock the song, literally in the church! Awesome stuff.

The song is actually a medley of sorts because they’ve also included a segment of the ‘You and I’ song performed during their first musical showdown and the rap part! The scene also changes from that of the church to a stage where we get to see a short performance based on the song…it’s not the complete musical…but at least we get to see a part of it.


I declare I love this show. Truth is I never completed any other musical drama so I can’t really compare, but if they are anything as good, I’m game for more. I think I loved everything about What’s Up – I’m invested in all the characters. Hell I cried for half of them in the past 20 episodes. I know some complained about the jarring and fickle moods but I actually loved it. It prevented the drama from being draggy because it’s an emotional rollercoaster. One moment I’m crying, the next I’m laughing…sometimes both simultaneously. That’s how crazy it is for me.

The set-up isn’t anything novel, but I think it’s done just right. I know the drama’s been edited for a 45 minute broadcast, but really I didn’t feel it. I love how all the characters have grown for the better, and realistically. Jae-hun never lost his cockiness, Do-sung is as timid as ever, Byung-gun with his overflowing confidence, Chae-young’s bitchiness….you geddit. Their circumstances might have changed but they are in essence still very much the same person as they were in the earlier episodes.

For example, Chae-young finally stops envying others and works with what she’s best at. The entertainment circle is so shark-infested that Do-sung wouldn’t last a minute in there without someone like Chae-young to shield him from the predators. And I think it’s amazing that the writer manages to solve Do-sung’s dilemma with Chae-young. Just brilliant.  Two birds with one stone. We all knew she sorta produced the first musical….so it’s kinda fitting that she ends up as one. That’s some tight writing.

Doo-ri is heart-breaking to watch. Whether or not we approve of her teacher-crush is secondary because in the end what matters is, she loved and respected Sun so much that his death hits her the hardest. And really this show proves that sometimes less is more. I like how some of the emotions are conveyed without words but packs just as strong an emotional punch.

Maybe some will be disappointed we don’t get to see the full musical, but I actually find that okay. Because we’ve caught glimpses of it throughout and since the musical is more or less based on the first years, we couldn’t have missed much because we’ve been with them for 20 episodes now haven’t we?

I do have a question though…what happened to the ahjussi guard…he went missing somewhere in between with no explanation…was it a result of the editing?

P/S: Imo they should totally do a What’s Up Vol.2! I’d totally watch it.


  1. What an epic ending. I love this drama to bits. I love musical dramas and What's Up is one that really delivered. It touched my heart in more ways than I could imagine. I found myself invested in each and every character (okay, aside from Chae Young but well, she redeemed herself at the end). I lost count of the times it made me smile and how each and every heart wrenching moment brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't really complain about the full musical not being shown because we got to see bits and pieces of awesome performances throughout the series. I love the side characters who i believe played an integral part in resolving each and every characters conflicts. The Red Tracksuit Ghost, Detective Cho, Professor Yang, Tae Hee's father/guardian angel/ conscience, Yoo Jin and the other freshmen. I can't pick my favorite character but it's definitely a tie up between Byung Gun, Jae Hun, Doo Ri and of course Professor Sun. I am fervently praying and hoping for Volume 2. I'm sure it'd be equally awesome.

    Thank you sooo much for the quick recaps!

  2. Can you believe it? I came to your website numerous times a day just to check for the recaps. Though I love this drama to bits but the show is rather short and all! I like how each character is paced out in the show and that they still turn out to be the same even at the ending. CY still bitchy like hell. But then TH and JH didnt get tgt in the end ): aww

  3. I think what i like about the ending is, there is still a lot open. Just like in real life. You can see wher they my be will go,but they are not there yet.

    Thank you for the recap.

  4. I have never wanted a sequel so much in my life. Seriously, 20 episodes is usually a pretty long ride for me but everything went so fast -- emotional roller-coaster as you put it. I actually did feel some of the editing mishaps though since some of the backstories felt a little swept under the rug for me. I really do think that they had some epic setups on hand that probably had to be watered down to fit the 45 minute time-frame that they were handed with. So now all I can really do is hope for a director's cut on the DVD version.

    I think dramas should really take a page out of this show because it's one of the first in a long while where every character has a legitimate purpose, and isn't written in just for the sake of appearing in a role. And even the antagonistic Chaeyoung isn't written off as some one dimensional evil-to-the-core villain but rather someone who's just willing to do whatever it takes to survive in the entertainment industry. My favorites would definitely have to be the Byunggun, Doori, and Sunman trifecta but everyone else probably ties for second place.

    Anyways, what I wanted to say was thank you for the recaps. It takes a lot of time combing through 20 episodes and writing something substantial for each and every one of them so thanks for that. Thanks a lot.

    1. If they really do come up with a Director's Cut (bless them), it would be the second Im Joo-hwan drama to receive the same treatment. Sigh.

      And since everyone is choosing their favourites, mine is Byung-gun!!

  5. Good news! MBN has announced What's Up Vol 2 with 6 extra episodes so I think we'll finally get to see the finished musical and more I think. I loved this show a lot and enjoyed your recaps. There was some great acting by the cast. Can't wait to see more of Do Sung'd story since I felt it wasn't fully addressed. Same with Tae Hee:)

    1. wow...that is news...but how is it vol2 ? Does it mean they'll release the cut scenes? I knew Do-sung, Tae-hee and even Doo-ri's backstory weren't properly resolved...but I figured they just didn't have time for it...and they would address that if ever there is a sequel...

    2. can you please give a link where you heard the news about what's up vol 2, thnx in advance

  6. Hello, now that what's up ended do you have any drama in mind to recap?

    What about operation proposal that aired today? Just curious not demanding^^.


    1. I'm not so keen on that...not because the show is bad or anything...and I actually love watching Yoo Seong-ho, but it's just that I'd watched the japanese version (which I actually loved), so I'm pretty familiar with the story.

      I just don't think I'd be able to offer much enthusiasm on a similar story...

    2. Oh I see, no problem, I understand you. It also happened with me and Pk.

      Thanks for replying ^^ kisses.

  7. No Vol.2...look at what they did to Dream High 2 -_-

    1. Heard JB and GF is dropping DH2 recaps, it's probably gone too "commercialized" and lost sight of what's more important - the story!

      If ever there is a WU vol 2, we'll need Song Ji-nah back in the writer's chair :)

  8. Just to clear things up. They're not releasing a vol. 2 but a six episode special, which will probably include the scenes that were cut from the initial run. Here's the official source from MBN if anyone's proficient in Korean.

    1. wow...I hope I can find subbed versions of the specials, that'll be nice. Specials are notoriously difficult to find...

  9. Chae-young had a total lightbulb moment at Manzzang's words. he actually accepted her and that was that for her.

    The only thing that super disappointed me was that Tae-yi got cut out. She is an integral part of that social group.

    But overall, I loved it. I bawled the entire ending, but it hurt so good.

    Thanks for doing this. It's hard work and I appreciate it!

  10. I loved this drama! best drama ever! :D and I'll be waiting for that special =P