It’s the last episode! And I’m watching this with so much dread and anticipation? Wait, that’s contradictory right?
Episode 16 (Final)
1 year later. Jo is busy packing up stuffs when Hee-jin calls and warns her not to throw away her mugs. Jo never saw her use it but she explains that she’s been saving it for when they move house. If she throws it away, she’ll be really angry. Jo gets the idea and hangs up before she can say more. (Boong-do’s mugs?)
An uneasy Hee-jin wonders if she should go home and check. The hairdresser asks if she’s moving house. She is - her first house! Hairdresser thinks she must be earning lots since she saw her in many CFs in the past year. But Hee-jin insists the CF pays weren’t that big. (Boong-do’s money?)
Hee-jin receives a call from the director of the The new Jang Hee-bin drama asking her for a favor. A fellow colleague from the education department insists of having Hee-jin do the narration for his program. Director-nim even resorts to flattery – the program couldn’t be made without her. Heh. Our dear Hee-jin is ever so kind.
Hee-jin is curious why they want her to do this. The PD explains that theirs is a program on history review which focuses on forgotten characters of history and their next special is on Queen In-hyun’s Man. There is a little known rumor that Queen In-hyun has a lover. It was never covered in Hee-jin’s drama and being such a minor incident, usually ignored. Even the annals have but one mention of it. However, an interesting additional record was found last month.
A restless Hee-jin starts to flip the narration script in the car.
1694. The 20th year of Suk-jong’s reign. In the May records of the annals, there is an interesting topic. Rumor has it that government official Kim Boong-do regularly shows up at the then-deposed Queen’s residence to offer close protection.
Kim Boong-do? The name does not ring a bell to Hee-jin and she’s never heard it in her drama. (She’s forgotten him after all!!!!!)
Jo returns home all tired to find Hee-jin still engrossed with the script. Jo thinks it’s a waste of time but Hee-jin thinks it’s pretty interesting since it’s Queen In-hyun’s man instead of Jang Hee-bin’s man. But isn’t Queen In-hyun’s man – King Suk-jong? Hee-jin starts to read out the script for Jo’s benefit.
At the time, there is a minister’s son named Kim Boong-do. He is Queen In-hyun’s man. During the period she was deposed, she fell in love with this man and King Suk-jong found out about it. King Suk-jong had him captured and he was killed during interrogation. However, it was only known that he was framed after his death. Alas, he died because of baseless rumors.
Then it starts getting interesting. The records clearly says that he’s dead but they are records proving he’s alive…found not long ago. Last month, the descendant of Minister Nam Gyu-man unveiled a memo written by Minister Nam which records his meeting with a living Kim Boong-do. Nam Gyu-man met Kim by chance on one of his inspection visits to the borders, the same Kim Boong-do who is supposed to have been dead for a year at the time.
Flashback shows Nam literally bumping into Boong-do on the streets. He grabs hold of him, thinking that he looks familiar. Before he can get a better look, Boong-do struggles free and runs for it. Nam orders the guard to find him, but Boong-do manages to elude capture and slips back into his room where he immediately starts to pack.
The guards eventually find his room after providing descriptions of him – tall with short hair. Apparently, he’s only been renting the place for the past 5 days. The guards demand that he follows them back to meet Minister Nam. Boong-do sighs heavily but runs off again at the last minute.
The guards report that Boong-do has escaped without saying a word. And they only found a book in his room. Nam flips open the book, noting that it’s not a book read by ordinary peasants. Within the book, he finds…*gasp*…Boong-do’s letter. He recognizes Boong-do’s handwriting which confuses him even more, since Boong-do is supposed to dead.
Boong-do is already galloping away on a horse. And it’s terribly sad as he lets the horse decide where they should go next.
Minister Nam returns to the palace and duly reports the finding from his inspection. But he also brings up his curious meeting of a man who resembles Boong-do not only in face and physique, but also in handwriting and essay style. He almost thought he was seeing the dead Boong-do but when he ordered him captured, the man disappeared. Unperturbed, the King asks if he looks any worse for wear. Smiling to himself, King says that he is indebted to Boong-do. Their conversation is interrupted but the King reminds him not to bring up the matter again.
Minister Nam writes about it though, in his memo, diary-style. He doesn’t know the details of Boong-do’s relationship with the King but one thing is clear – he’s alive. And to keep that a secret, he’s been living like a nomad at the borders. Because Nam knows that Boong-do’s sacrifice is essential to keep the peace in court, he feels sorry for his exhausting lifestyle. Nevertheless, the fact that he’s alive needs to remain a secret forever.
Hee-jin is still up, a little tipsy, reading the script. She’s feeling sorry for Kim Boong-do. The fact that the King only sent him to the borders instead of having him killed meant that he never had an affair with the Queen, it was only a one-sided love. A nobleman of birth, a top scholar at 19 years old and highly regarded by the King – why did he have to fall for the Queen? He’s totally ruined his life because of a woman. Jo rolls her eyes at her fixation with a historical figure.
Cut to Boong-do in Joseon. He’s taking a drink when a couple shows up behind him. He passes the scoop to him politely and leaves. The man thinks he’s familiar and after a moment remembers! Huh? Who’s this?
A monk approaches Boong-do as he tends to his horse. It’s that monk from a year ago. He asks what Boong-do is doing here, especially since he’s supposed to be hunted. Boong-do explains that Joseon is not as big as he thinks after all, since he ends up back here after a year of wandering. Monk asks if he’s not tired of running. He is – but the funny thing is, running has become his only reason to live. If he does not run, he’d have no idea how to live out each day. Monk thinks it’s better to receive punishment if he’s sinned. Boong-do agrees, but in his situation, he’d be committing a greater sin if he allows himself to be captured.
Boong-do is just about to excuse himself when that man from earlier brought guards. Drats! Boong-do runs for it but finds himself surrounded. The guards are arresting him for murder. Ja-soo’s I supposed. When the guards approach him to tie him up, Boong-do puts up a fight and manages to grab hold of a weapon. Instead of pressing his advantage, he takes in the frightened faces of the visitors and the guards and…surrenders? Why??? Conscience stopping him from taking more lives?
Cut the studio recording of Queen In-hyun’s man. Hee-jin narrates first, describing the memo recording Minister Nam’s chance meeting with Boong-do and his subsequent conversation with the King. Also released is a letter by Kim Boong-do dated June 1674, written a month after his death, in which his deep love for an unnamed woman and his despair at their separation is evident. Scholars have deduced that the unnamed woman is likely to be Queen In-hyun.
Cue. The elder man next to Hee-jin reads the contents of the letter. Hee-jin continues to narrate: A man wishing for the woman he loves to forget him. She must have existed somewhere beyond his reach. Does he still retain that memory? At least it appears that he hasn’t forgotten these. In several other short writings, he recorded some events related to that woman. End of part I. End of recording. Hee-jin stares at the screen, where someone is acting out the part of Boong-do.
The door opens. There is surprise guest for Hee-jin…it’s Han-dong-min. (Don’t tell me they’re dating again!) Dong-min marvels at her varied jobs, she’s even doing documentaries now. Hee-jin explains it’s just a favor for Director Yang. Anyway, what’s he doing here? He’s supposed to be overseas for a shoot. Dong-min perks up eagerly, thinking that she misses him. (Oh thank god they’re not dating). Fact is his news is all over the internet, she didn’t exactly go searching for it.
They’re not dating, but he’s definitely interested. He wants to date her, since she’s not attached, he’s lonely and she’s lonely, why not? (Oh gawd….please don’t say yes HJ). He was dating a girl from an idol group who is ten years younger, but she’s much too immature. No matter what, he insists that there’s no one better than Hee-jin and pours on the aegyo charm. Hee-jin tells him not to pester her and go for another girl. She singles out Na-jung who is walking by, commenting that they are a match made in heaven.
The mischievous Dong-min calls out to Na-jung and repeats what Hee-jin said. Na-jung smirks and a shocked Hee-jin shakes her head. Han-dong admits he’s not that fond of her but if she’s willing, he’ll date her. He’s been too lonely lately he doesn’t have the energy to be picky. Oh you douchebag. A speechless Na-jung forms an unmistakable cross with her arms. Heh. Hee-jin wonders when he’ll grow up but the unrepentant Dong-min quips that he doesn’t want to.
Chun-soo arrives to remind Dong-min he’s due next. Dong-min leaves but pledges to call her tomorrow. He’s such a rogue but I’m at least glad that she’s not accepting him again.
Chun-soo retraces his steps and asks Hee-jin discreetly if Jo is available. Pfft. Hee-jin is surprised by his question and asks why. Chun-soo explains sheepishly that he’s feeling lonely. LOL. Like artist, like manager? Hee-jin tells him that Jo already has someone she’s interested in.
Jo grumbles about Chun-soo calling her up late at night and of the two (Dong-min and Chun-soo) taking advantage of their soft nature. Hee-jin agrees wholeheartedly. But she laughs and asks Hee-jin eagerly what she told Chun-soo. (Omo, she’s interested!) Hee-jin repeats what she told Chun-soo. Jo is pretty surprised – she ain’t got no man. Well it’s only a ruse, to stop Chun-soo from pestering her. Jo is disappointed but she couldn’t admit it. LOL. She mutters under her breath that Hee-jin is not being any help at all. The she lashes out at Hee-jin when she tells the driver to hurry up – it’s her fault for accepting this job. Yikes, angry Jo is scary. Heh.
The next shoot brings her back to the palace. Hee-jin recalls nostalgically how she used to spend days here filming for the drama. It’s been a year since then. She glances around and the scene transitions to Boong-do being led here in Joseon.
He looks around in fondness at the place he used to frequent while the guard scoffs at his lie – he couldn’t have stepped foot in the palace. Boong-do notices Minister Nam in the distance and turns around in panic.
The shooting starts and Hee-jin begins her commentary as she walks along the pavement …towards Boong-do in a superimposed scene. The crossing of path is highlighted by juxtaposed scenes as well as colored and black-and-white scenes. As they stand close, with their backs towards each other, the colors start to fade in and out as if the boundaries between the two different times are blurred. Hee-jin feels uneasy and looks around confusedly. She attempts to continue, but tears start falling of their own accord.
The director yells for a cut, asking if she’s alright. Hee-jin can’t explain her tears, she doesn’t understand it herself. She continues to stare into space while we see Boong-do being led away by the guards. His interrogation is set for tomorrow. The director approaches her, checking on her. She explains that sand got in her eyes and request for a re-shoot. She looks around uncomprehendingly, confused by her emotions.
Boong-do is being imprisoned in Uigeumbu, where he’s told he’ll be interrogated by Officer Yoon due to the severe nature of his crime. Yoon would be the officer he worked with on Ja-soo’s case, for sure he’d be recognized. Boong-do recalls his promise to the King to never appear on these soils again. He stares at the ceiling contemplatively. An escape?
Hee-jin receives a call from Jo while she’s driving. Jo heard she cried doing the opening for the program and worries about her. Hee-jin assures her she’s fine. She doesn’t know why she cried either. The tears just fell suddenly. Of a sudden, she just felt unbearably sad. She’s a little down now and feels like downing some soju. They make plans to drink up at home. Again, Hee-jin is feeling queasy and uneasy. She tries to distract herself by turning up the volume.
Boong-do opens the package returned to him – it’s the suit and handphone. He picks up the tie and starts knotting it, smiling as he remembers Hee-jin’s version of the necktie’s function. T.T OMG He’s not gonna hang himself right? Oh but he is! He loops the tie over the beam and tightens the knot.
In the present, there’s thunder and lightning followed by heavy rain. Hee-jin wonders why it rains so often and cranks up the volume of her radio somemore.
Boong-do slowly loops the tie over his neck and Hee-jin starts crying again, her heart hurting. Boong-do releases his grip and kicks away the barrel supporting his weight. Hee-jin is sobbing hard now, still unsure of why she’s crying. Oh gawd, this is so painful to watch. She cries harder and harder, and suddenly images flash across her eyes. She remembers keying in “player” but she doesn’t remember what or who is it. She remembers a number and dials it. In Joseon, Boong-do’s handphone comes alive and rings!!!!!!!!
But Boong-do’s feet are still dangling in air. Hee-jin starts sucking in deep breaths as though she’s having difficulty breathing. She drops the ringing phone and climbs out of the car into the rain, hyperventilating. Suddenly, all the memories come flooding back to her, but the memories bring more hurt as she realizes what she truly lost.
Hee-jin shows up at the studio, drenched, surprising the director of the documentary. She wants the see the recording of Queen In-hyun’s man. He teaches her the control buttons and leaves her alone. The recording begins with her commentary. She forwards the recording to the part with the letter. This time, she knows the letter is addressed to her! As she listens to the letter’s narration, the camera pans to her handphone in the car, still connected, before returning to a sobbing Hee-jin in the studio.
The door opens and Hee-jin apologizes. A voice asks, “If you’re calling me, why aren’t you answering?” Hee-jin turns around in shock! It’s Boong-do, all suited up at the door. Am I dreaming?????? Hee-jin is still too stunned to respond.
BD: I’m been looking for you. Didn’t you call me? Half an hour ago.
Flashback. As Boong-do slowly loses his consciousness, his ringing handphone finally penetrates his clouded consciousness. He struggles and wriggles, swinging to the bars of the prison cell for support. The ties finally loosen and he falls to the ground in a thud, coughing hard. He answers the phone and whoosh, he warps to the present!!!!!!!!!!
But by then, Hee-jin has dropped her phone in the car and walked out in the rain. Boong-do opens his eyes and finds himself in Seoul again. He laughs heartily and says hello repeatedly into the phone. Urging “the prettiest girl on earth” to answer.
Back to the studio, Boong-do asks if Hee-jin plans to remain stupefied. Since she’d summoned a properly living him here, she should take responsibility. Hee-jin finally speaks, instructing him to close the door and he obliges. Then she tells him to come to her side and tears up again as he does.
She approaches him cautiously, eyes unblinking as though afraid he’d disappear, hand outstretched as she reaches out to cradle his face, her relief palpable as her hand touches his face.
HJ: It’s real. You’re alive...[…] How have you been living…this past year?
BD: I wandered all over the eight islands (of Joseon) and found many lovers. One year passed in a blink of an eye.
HJ: You’re bluffing. The evidence is right here (the letter on screen).
Boong-do asks in feigned ignorance what it is. Hee-jin is in no mood for light banter now and turns his attention back to her.
HJ: What happened? Where’s the amulet?
BD: The amulet has been burned.
HJ: Then how did you come here?
BD: Didn’t I say you summoned me here?
He cradles her face with both hands, his thumb tenderly wiping away her falling tears. He closes his eyes in affirmation, much like what he did during their reunion at the red carpet and she returns the gesture in kind, in silent comprehension.
BD: The use of a necktie…I miss the function of a necktie that you taught me. I almost used it for other purpose.
HJ: Are you saying you missed the function of a necktie?
BD: I’ve missed it to death.
Hee-jin lifts his tie, asking if this is what he is referring to. She pulls him a little closer and he covers the rest of the distance by holding her face in a kiss.
A chance meeting beginning in the gap of time, that fate has already ended one year ago. The ‘us’ now didn’t meet because of a mysterious amulet wrote by the master monk but linked by our very own memory as well as our second destined fate. From this moment on, I am his savior. And the price for that is he has to stay by my side forever.
Boong-do abruptly paused mid-kiss, staring at the screen.
BD: But why is my letter still around? How?
HJ: Minister Nam kept this in his possession. Last month, his descendants officially disclosed it.
BD: How can they disclose someone else’s private letter?! It has to be destroyed.
HJ: That letter is now in the museum. Now, you definitely can’t destroy it. Unless the museum collapses.
Boong-do scoffs, mutters that he’s going crazy (the exact word Hee-jin told him in their first meeting!) She laughs and he smiles, then resumes kissing her.
The camera pans slowly to the screen where their embracing silhouettes are projected along the title page of Queen In-hyun’s Man.
The screen shows a speechless Jo who feels absurd over his sudden reappearance as Hee-jin’s boyfriend. And for the THIRD time, she proceeds to interrogate him with the exact questions and responses. Muhahahaha. Some things just don’t change! He burst out laughing at the question regarding his tiled-house, then offers the rest of the answers without being asked while Jo sighs at how perfect he is.
For a last episode, I'm a little underwhelmed. Except for the last 20 minutes or so, it feels like they decided to show the epilogue first while my impatient self kept waiting…and waiting…and waiting for the resolution of their conundrum.
Even when I knew Hee-jin has forgotten him, I didn’t lose hope. But when Boong-do decides to hang himself, I was beside myself with worry. Surely that can’t be the only solution. Only when Hee-jin regains her memories that I started to relax. This drama sure loves to tease us. Even when the door opens, I didn’t think it could be Boong-do, but it is – and I’m glad.
But what happened to the opening sequence? I was surprised they never did include that. I’m not saying that I am dissatisfied with how the story unfolded but I did expect that scene to crop out at some point, especially since it packed quite a dramatic punch in the first episode. And Boong-do warping to the present through the handphone, that was a surprising twist. What dictates which items allow them to time-travel? Yoon-wol’s fervent prayers and sincerity imbued the amulet with warping powers, so does that mean Hee-jin’s longing and love infuse the handphone with supernatural powers as well? Because I’m soooo grateful that HJ and BD get to be together, I think I shan’t look too deeply into this puzzle. Because for the longest time, I too wondered if it is remotely possible. I just wished they came up with something more believable.
I think it’s amusing that while side characters like Na-jung, Dong-min and Jo (soo-kyung) never had much character growth (Dong-min is particular), they maintain the same personality, consistently. Jo had me in stitches for her third interrogation with Boong-do. Muahaha. Anyway, in the end, they are what they are, and they complement the story nicely because I don’t think it’ll take a genius like Boong-do to figure out that this is their story – Hee-jin and Boong-do’s love story. There are no annoying third parties (Dong-min don’t really count), no parental objections, no silly misunderstandings, no denial of their feelings; all the elements that is present in every other k-drama. Even the cliché threads of amnesia and noble idiocy are handled brilliantly (E15).
I have to admit this episode feels a little anti-climatic compared to the brilliantly heartbreaking E15 but it gave me a happy ending and I can’t begrudge it for that. Though I did hope to see more of Boong-do in the present world, maybe even a montage of him going to Florence or something, but alas, time is too short and we get some hot hot kisses instead.
I am happy to see Ji Hyun-woo and Yoo In-na giving such a wonderful performance in their first lead roles and I’d definitely be on the lookout for their future projects. Now that my addiction to QIHM has ended, I need to find me some other crack to fill this empty heart T.T