The End Depends on the Beginning –
Except in K-dramaland, where sometimes the end is a truly confounding or bizarre event that has viewers scratching their heads or fuming years later.
I was reminded of this recently when I happened to link back to an epic series of posts on dramabeans about My Love Patzzi, which revolved in part about whether Jang Nara ended up with Kim Rae Won or no one. Years and several hundred comments later, the camps are still divided on that question. (For the record, Kim Rae Won FTW!).
So, here are some of the more confounding and infuriating endings that have graced the annals of K-dramaland history. Be warned – spoilers ahoy!
I enter into evidence – Sang Doo, Let’s go to School. After much travail, Rain gets out of jail and is met by his love, Gong Hyo Jin, who crosses the street to meet him. And then they are both hit by a truck.
I kid you not. And to top that, there’s a time leap to a narration of their little girl Bori (ok, who isn’t theirs, but roll with me here) talking about her new life with her new family and she can’t see her Daddy anymore.
But then, we then see Rain and Gong Hyo Jin as a guard and teacher at a school, then with them and a baby strolling through the golden countryside. As Bori’s voice over says goodbye, we switch to a scroll over the screen of a message thanking everyone who supported their love (normal for a show thanking their viewers) and then it ends, “from Eun Hwan and Sang Doo in a world without despair.” Yeah.
This ending has caused hair pulling all over the globe. First you get the WHAT! and randomness of both of them getting hit by a truck just as things might be looking up, and you escalate it to the WTH? of the ending bit. Much has been written as to exactly what was going on in that last episode. Personally I gave up trying to figure it out when they got hit by the truck.
Lovers in Paris – where we follow the Cinderella story of Kim Jung Eun as she meets not one, but two gentlemen in Paris: Park Shin Yang – a rich car executive whose maid she becomes and then through a series of weird events his faux-ish girlfriend; and Lee Dong Gun – a musician and nephew of the first gentleman.
All goes according to K-drama requirements until episode 20, where, at the very end, a curious thing happens. We reset back to Paris, and our characters meet up after the required time leap and comment that no matter when or where, they seemed fated to meet. And then suddenly we skip to Kim Jung Eun arriving in Paris, and some near misses meeting him, and we see her typing all of this as a story into the computer on his desk and realize she’s still the maid at his place as she breaks his glasses as she did near the beginning.
Oh really? It was a story she was writing? But then she sees an announcement in the paper for the Cinderella marriage of the first iteration of the story, complete with the photos of him and her. As she leaves, he arrives, and reads the same article. The almost but not quite identical scenes from the beginning, with her tossing a coin in asking to find a love like in her screenplay, whereas in the beginning she asked to find a rich man.
Okay then! So, on the one hand, it’s a screenplay, but on the other, the newspaper shows an article about them. Fantasy? Reality? The circular nature of fate? Oh for heavens sake, pick one! This isn’t Rough Cut, which played with the notion for an entire film. It’s an ending twist that went nowhere.
High Kick Through the Roof – a series that was recent enough that mere mention of it can make otherwise normal people foam at the mouth. After 125 episodes of a sitcom and the usual confusion and angst, in episode 126 the family moves abroad amid tearful partings, Daniel Choi is driving Shin Se Kyung to the airport in the rain. Then, we hear a traffic report of a crash near the airport. Then, a time leap of 3 years. Jung Eum and Ju Hyuk mention they wonder about the “what ifs.” Then we skip back to see that what happened that rainy day – as they were driving to the airport Se Kyung told Daniel Choi that she weighed the reasons for going vs staying, and she thought of staying because of him. That she liked him a lot. Much tearful confession in the car, and she says at least she got the chance to tell him, yada yada.
As she mutters that it would be nice if time stopped for a moment, he looks over at her – and the show freeze frames on that. Poof. Ends. We are left to deduce that they died in the pileup. OMG! If you could have bottled the outrage that ending caused, you could fuel a power plant. 125 episodes of sitcom-ish-ness, and 1 of parting and the expected time leap twist of perhaps the OTP finally returning or whatever and NO!!! Holy freaking cow.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal – don’t brickbat me here, people. I loved 15 1/2 episodes of that show, but then the time leap at the very end added even more WTH onto the pile. Now, why the writers changed the perfectly decent ending from the book to one that made very little sense is anyone’s guess. The final time leap adds insult to injury. The book (if anyone cares) ends with all four of them going to work in the King’s library, Sun Joon and Yoon Hee married, with her identity known to the boys but unmentioned, and no one else the wiser.
The last episode of the show, after the not so secret delivery of the document, and discovery of her identity (double head-desk), gives us a time leap that has our lovely Horsie in the guards (rocking the hat, I must say), Yong Ha in the marketplace advising on fashion (WTF!) amid lovely fabrics, and Yoon Hee and Sun Joon as married professors at Sungkyunkwan with her identity known. What? Eh? Where did that come from? The ending was not only out of place but didn’t make it ANY sense to have a female teacher, and essentially made a mockery of the rest of the show. The very last scene was a win for fan service, and that was about it.
I Need Romance – not this badly you don’t. This little cable show was about Sun Woo In Young, who dumps her boyfriend when he cheats. She finds a handsome, younger, rich boyfriend who she then dumps when it becomes apparent that she just doesn’t fit into his world. Ok fine? Then, in a move that stuns with stupidity, given that she’s just announced that she values herself too much to change for rich new boyfriend, she TAKES HER RAT BASTARD EX BACK. Yes, I’m yelling.
Think about this for a second. She spent 15 episodes getting rid of the guy, and then takes him back? She takes him back? What happened to the 15 episodes of preaching that you value yourself more than this? To add to the glaze of WHAT! on this show, the other couples that end up together are screwed up as well.
Bad Guy – those who know me know that I try very, very hard not to think about this show. It was so screwed up that it broke my brain. However, when I asked around, it rose to the top of the list of screwed up endings. To be honest, it could almost be eliminated from this list on the grounds that the entire second half of the show just completely fell off the cliff, and that the ending was just icing on the WTF cake – but no. So, here goes.
At the end of Bad Guy, Kim Nam Gil is shot by his own younger sister, who goes on her merry way through life. He crawls off and dies by the river, and his body goes unidentified. His girlfriend waits for him to return, his step-mother gets out of jail after serving 5 seconds, and his not-brother moves away to restart his life.
Are you with me here?
On the whole, that second half of the ending almost makes some sense, except for the fact no one seems to be looking for a missing man at the morgue. It’s the getting shot by his younger sister and her going on her merry way that makes no sense. First of all that little sister is supposed to be on another continent. Secondly, she somehow went from doting on her family and brother to wanting to shoot him. That only makes sense if she’s the only one who is uninformed that he’s her real brother. Except that at that point everyone else knew. And the going on her merry way also only works if she didn’t know, plus it’s out of character with her personality.
Now, since the whole show pretty much didn’t make any sense from the moment Kim Nam Gil’s draft notice hit them, expecting the ending to make any sense is futile, but in context it’s just more WHAT? that added to the disaster that was that poor show.
Ok, that description almost makes sense. But trust me when I say that, in context, especially given that they were using a bad body double for Kim Nam Gil, it’s just a big bowl of nonsense topped with the whipped cream of bizarre.
After polling various people, other nominations for endings that made people go SAY WHAT? include: IRIS, wherein Lee Byung Hun is shot to death by a sniper within sight of the lighthouse where Kim Tae Hee is waiting for him to propose to her; Autumn in My Heart, which is a case of massive piling on to the pile of grief at the end; Sweet Spy, when the girl police officer gets a phone call using her nickname from the supposedly dead Dennis Oh (who I have a severe allergy to, otherwise I’d probably have included a longer description of the sheer EH?-ness of this ending); Marry Me, Mary, where the plot for the entire show went south to the point where the cast rewrote the last episode to make it somewhat coherent; Warrior Baek Dong Soo, where you go almost immediately from the tragic death of one of the main characters, to happiness and sunshine at Samo’s for a wedding; and finally Assorted Gems, where in many of the main characters apparently had personality transplants 2/3 of the way through the show and ended in the finale with a time leap to one of the spunkier girls visiting her Mom’s grave, pregnant and married to someone we all hated for most of the show.
Feel free to add your own favorite puzzlers to this list, or vent, or otherwise enjoy – because this trip down memory lane has sent me to rewatch Damo, a drama that is beautifully crafted from beginning to end, and will hopefully act as brain bleach for some of these doozies.