Drama Recaps
Hong Gil Dong: Episode 24 (Final)
by | March 26, 2008 | 231 Comments

Wow.

Um, wow.

The more I think about the ending of Hong Gil Dong, the more I like it. I’ve mentioned that the series was starting to feel repetitive in recent episodes, and I’d wondered how this episode would wrap everything up to satisfaction.

Some people aren’t going to be happy, and I admit my initial impression was mixed. Though it’s not sad or tragic, it’s bittersweet, but mixed with an open-endedness and, dare I say, even hopefulness.

I didn’t expect the writers to pull out this kind of finale, but the more I consider it and the knee-jerk reaction fades, I think it achieves a kind of poignancy I didn’t think it would, or could. In fact, the finale actually brings the series up to scratch and vindicates some of the meandering plotlines for me. I like the series better for its ending, when I was actually prepared to go out on anticlimax. Although that may put me in the minority (sigh, once again).

SONG OF THE DAY

Dear Cloud – “꿈” (Dream) [ Download ]

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FINAL EPISODE RECAP

The king sends his troops to attack Hwal Bin Dang, and with no opportunity for escape and surrounded on all sides, Hwal Bin Dang prepares for confrontation.

Soon, it’s all-out battle.

Hearing that Chang Whe ordered the attack, Enok rushes to Gil Dong. Chang Whe hears of Enok’s departure with dismay, but believes that Gil Dong will send her back. Although this is exactly the scenario Chang Whe feared, both men love Enok too much to let her stay in harm’s way.

She tries to persuade Gil Dong to run away while he can — he was once on the same side as Chang Whe. Why is he fighting when he knows he’ll die?

Gil Dong tells her that he must continue — and because the king has left his side in the fight for a better world, that puts them at odds.

Chisu and Yong Jin convey a message to Hwal Bin Dang, and it’s clear that they don’t relish the idea of fighting their former allies, either. They will certainly act in loyalty to their king, but they have both seen the world inside of Hwal Bin Dang and felt wistful pangs themselves. They ask how long Hwal Bin Dang can hold out, and the rebels answer that they’ll fight till the end to protect the world they’ve created. Within their stronghold, there are no nobles and no servants — everyone is equal.

Chisu tells Yong Jin, “That place is a dream. A dream everyone wants to enter.”

Chang Whe’s message (a demand to disband Hwal Bin Dang and surrender) does nothing to alter Gil Dong’s course. But he knows he can’t hold on to Enok, and therefore sends her back with a letter, telling her that she’s the only one who can deliver his message safely to the king.

Enok: “I’m thinking carefully about where it is I want to be.”
Gil Dong: “And?”
Enok: “I thought it over, and come this far. This is my place too. This is where I want to be — where you are. So I’ll be right back.”

For him, this is goodbye, but he doesn’t contradict Enok’s belief that it’s just an errand.

Although a fight between the king and Gil Dong was what Eun Hye had intended, the swiftness of reality shocks her, and she realizes this isn’t what she wanted at all.

She tells Gil Dong of a bird she’d had whose mate had died, which she’d sent away to its freedom. She’d thought that if she got rid of Gil Dong, into whom she’d poured so much attention and emotion, she’d be freed too. But now she knows that’s not the case, and begs him to retreat and flee somewhere far — it’s okay if he doesn’t come to her. All she wants is to know he’s safe.

Gil Dong: “I’m already in a faraway land, one that’s completely different from this one. What I’m fighting for now, and my friends here, is not the king’s world. It’s a tiny but decent place we’ve built — that’s what I’m fighting for.”
Eun Hye: “That kind of place is a dream. A dream you’ll die for.”
Gil Dong: “No, the land we stand on now is that place. Because you can’t come over to our side, you can’t see it, and believe it’s merely a dream. But for me it’s reality, something I’d happily die protecting.”

As he turns to leave, Eun Hye calls out, “Then protect it through the very end. Don’t die, and keep protecting it, so that I can know that you’re still alive guarding that place.”

Enok delivers the letter to Chang Whe, who doesn’t intend to let her return to the Hwal Bin Dang he plans to destroy. Chang Whe shows her the letter — it’s blank. Gil Dong was actually sending her away.

Chang Whe: “As a king protecting my country, I may have to kill him. But to kill you along with him? You’re an irreplaceable person to me. I told you that it was because of you that I became a real person. But you want me to kill you and keep on living?”

Enok tells him, “The world I chose is Gil Dong’s, so I will go there. I’ve seen the good person in you. I believe you will be a good king.” She begs for him to let her go — and he does, defeatedly.

Rushing back and launching herself into the fray, Enok comes face to face with Chisu, and tells him the good person she saw in Chang Whe is dying — “Go back and protect him.”

Across the battlefield, Gil Dong sees her arrival, and this time he (finally!) accepts her choice to remain.

That night, Enok tends to Gil Dong’s wounds. She reminds them that they’re in this together now: “This is where I want to be. So don’t stop me from fighting to save it.”

This time, he grabs her in a hug and thanks her for sticking with him.

The next day, we have a bit of a reprieve from the fighting — Hwal Bin Dang is holding steady despite the siege — and Su Geun begs Mal Nyeo to marry him formally. Just like Gil Dong and Enok, who’ve just married. Enok now wears the wedding hair ornament her grandfather had bought for her.

Mal Nyeo agrees to the wedding, and Su Geun rejoices.

Meanwhile, Enok excitedly shows Gil Dong a bud that’s just sprouted out of the ground. But as she can’t remember what she planted there, she and Gil Dong cheerfully speculate about what it will grow to be.

Chang Whe comes to speak to Gil Dong and explains that he doesn’t consider his stance a betrayal of Gil Dong — he’s (yes we know, for the hundredth time) just a king protecting his people. He also says that he will remember Gil Dong years from now (speaking with an assurance born of knowing the outcome will favor himself) and what he’d fought for.

Gil Dong adds that he shouldn’t forget to fear him, either — because even if he dies and Hwal Bin Dang disappears, there may be a new Hong Gil Dong and a new Hwal Bin Dang that will rise up to change the world.

Gil Dong: “It may not come today, but someday that world will arrive. People will believe in that world and inch toward it. The world will change a hundred, thousand times, gradually progressing toward that place.”

Gearing up for more battle, the rebels send away a protesting Gom. Gil Dong steps in and tells him to get out and survive. He must live on and see to it that their work isn’t forgotten, and keep the fight going: “Do that for everyone, Gom. No, I mean Leader Gom.”

Yeon ushers Gom and Hae Myung out of the area, fighting off the soldiers who patrol the area. But more soldiers keep arriving, poised to shoot the escaping pair. Yeon plants himself in front of them and takes the arrows to the chest, and urges Gom to run away.

Injured but not fallen, he continues to fight the oncoming soldiers, fueled by the determination to protect Gom: “This is for Gom’s world to come.” Despite being shot with numerous arrows, he continues fighting until finally he falls.

Back at Hwal Bin Dang, Su Geun and Mal Nyeo have their wedding ceremony, with Gil Dong presiding. Enok puts freshly plucked flowers into Mal Nyeo’s hair and the couple is married. The others chant for the newlyweds to kiss, and then for Gil Dong and Enok to do likewise.

It’s a brief interlude that’s over all too soon as they gear up for more fighting. Feeling the intensity growing, Gil Dong knows that Chang Whe is anxious to finish the fight quickly, and will be increasing his attacks. Hwal Bin Dang prepares to continue holding ground, while the king’s soldiers prepare to charge in.

And then the sequence that brings everything to a head:

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First, the mood takes on an ethereal quality, helped in large part by this hauntingly beautiful traditional Norwegian song “Lær Meg Å Kjenne,” as sung by Sissel Kyrkjebø. (The actual song starts around 40 seconds in.) [ Download ]

Original lyrics:
Lær meg å kjenne dine veie
og gå dem trøstig skritt for skritt
Jeg vet at hva jeg fikk i eie,
er borget godt gods, og alt er ditt.
Men vil din sterke hånd meg lede,
jeg aldri feil på målet ser,
og for hvert håp som dør her nede,
får jeg et håp i himlen mer
English translation:
Teach me to know your ways
and to walk them trustingly step by step
I know that what I own,
are borrowed goods, and everything is yours.
But if your strong hand guides me,
I will never see the wrong goal,
and for every hope that dies
down here,
I will receive a greater hope in heaven.

As Hwal Bin Dang prepares to move out, soldiers shoot a barrage of fire-tipped arrows in. But rather than scatter or run, everyone stares, calmly transfixed, at the fire flying in the sky. For a prolonged moment, it looks like the arrows are hanging in the air, and they gaze at the sight almost peacefully.

It’s like time pauses as everyone around Gil Dong and Enok fades into black and white, and Enok remarks that the arrows look like shooting stars: “Shall we make a wish?”

Gil Dong: “In this situation?”
Enok: “It looks like they’re bidding us a nice farewell.”
Gil Dong: “We’ll be going together.”

They hold hands as the arrows start descending toward them.

Then the arrows fall, landing everywhere.

Enok: “Gil Dong. [in English] ‘I love you.’
Gil Dong: “I know.”
Enok: “You know what that means?”
Gil Dong: “Dummy. I love you. I love you… I love you…”

Alone in his palace, Chang Whe hears the report and sheds a tear. His soldiers storm the burning headquarters.

 

We don’t see any people, dead or otherwise, as the arrows land and set Hwal Bin Dong on fire. But the next morning, everything is charred and eerily empty, but for Mal Nyeo’s fallen flower and the lonely green plant, still alive in the ground.

I’m thankful that they don’t show us any bodies, because for one, it keeps the ending (and implied deaths) on a metaphorical level, which spares me the trauma of seeing the carnage. It also gives us our last image of them as whole, intact, and nobly defending their ideals. Furthermore, we don’t need to be reminded of death — that’s not the point. (More on that later.) On another level, it helps some of the more denial-stricken among us cling to the belief that maybe, just maybe, some people survived.

Chang Whe assures his men, and therefore his citizens, that Hwal Bin Dang has been subdued. He will continue to do what he must to protect his country.

 

Not unlike the first time Gil Dong “died,” Hwal Bin Dang and Gil Dong may be gone but the legend lives on.

Merchant Wang tells the other villagers that they must read Gil Dong’s story and remember him so that he never dies. Watching from the sidelines, Hae Myung tells Gom:

“He’s alive. Through them, and through you, they all live on.”

And some undisclosed number of years later, when Hae Myung is old(er) and gray(er), he comes upon a young boy crying by himself. The boy is upset that because of his poverty, he’s unable to learn anything. Only the rich are educated. Hae Myung asks, “Do you want to be Hong Gil Dong too?”

That gets the boy’s attention, and he follows the priest, asking about Hong Gil Dong.

Boy: “Do you really know Hong Gil Dong? Is he really not dead, but still alive?”
Hae Myung: “Of course. Hong Gil Dong is someone who’ll live forever.”

And then the scene transitions into modern-day Korea — subways, sidewalks, cafes, city lights.

Hae Myung: “Even in a hundred years, five hundred years, he’ll still be alive.”
Boy: “What will he be doing in such a far-off time?”
Hae Myung: “Even when much time passes and things look different on the surface, the way people live will be similar. Like we have the noble and lower classes in our world, that world will have its own strong and weak people.”
Boy: “What will Hong Gil Dong do there?”
Hae Myung: “What’s more important than what he’ll be doing is the fact that there will be someone watching and guiding the world to live properly. Don’t forget. The sword that looks the world in the face, takes stock of it, and changes it — in any world, there will be a Hong Gil Dong.”

THE END

Additionally…

First, the knee-jerk reaction: disappointment that my expectations for a goofy, giddily happy ending were thwarted. I’m guessing that I was not alone in expecting the series to come full circle and give us more of that opening sequence from Episode 1, with the happy rebels cheerfully continuing to wreak their vigilante brand of justice upon a corrupt hegemony. I feel a bit cheated out of it, even though such an ending wouldn’t quite fit in with the way the plot has been developing — because then we’d have to assume Chang Whe turned corrupt and ignored his desire to become a good ruler, which goes against everything his character has been built up to be all series long. (My interpretation of the opening sequence (Gil Dong’s hairstyle notwithstanding) is that it already happened and we just didn’t see exactly when the initial time-jump backward caught up with the “present.”)

But as I think more about the series and get used to the resolution, I love the way they wrapped things up. (And never underestimate the power of a well-chosen score, because that last song? Is pretty killer.) The series actually had a meaning beyond mere entertainment — yes, sometimes it was heavy-handed in its delivery, but at least there was some sort of depth there. Perhaps the Hong sisters’ take on egalitarianism is a little clumsy, therefore more propagandistic than needle-sharp social commentary, but hey, they’re in good company — apparently the original writer of the book Hong Gil Dong Jeon was accused of pushing anti-government propaganda.

I appreciated the surrealistic way the final battle was portrayed because, like I said, death was never the point. Starting from a few episodes back, it became increasingly obvious that Gil Dong was meant to transcend the present, and therefore his present life. His existence held more purpose than his physical lifetime, so it’s only fitting that we don’t see a definitive death scene to give his story a sense of finality it’s not meant to have.

Because it hardly matters in the big picture — and Hong Gil Dong really is about the big picture — when hundreds of years later, what’s important isn’t how long Gil Dong and Enok and everyone lived, but that their legacy continues. And that the world they dreamed of and staked so much to bring about has (more or less) come true, where people are judged equally, are not confined by the status of their births, valued on meritocracy (again, more or less — sometimes less), and are able to choose their leaders.

We might even infer that Gom carried on the legacy — after all, Gil Dong’s last words to him were “Leader Gom,” anointing him his successor. The ending of the series, with the juxtaposition of the fallen flower and the sprouting bud, shows that with their last great stand, they ushered in the beginnings of a new era.

So, happy ending? Not completely. But satisfying? For me, it was.

 
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231 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Sunshine

    I so shouldn’t have read all the spoilers over at soompi! I will refrain myself from reading this summary until I see the episode. ^^;;

    But now that I already now what is going to happen all that I can say is..

    Holy sh*t! I did not expect this kind of ending since the 3 other dramas by the Hong sister all had a happy ending so I was expecting a happy ending for HGD as well.

    I feel very disappointed, sad and depressed right now cause I wanted my happy ending! Sigh.

    The last scene still gives me some kind of hope though. If they didn’t at least have that scene, I’d be on my way to Korea by now!!

    You gotta give it to the Hong sister who dared to do something different this time.

    Oh well, life goes on and and so should we.

    Thanks Javabeans for doing an awesome job! *korean bow*

     (0)


  2. smiley6yrl

    yay, i was hoping that the finale wasnt all that bad, not as bad as most people were saying… so i keep on refreshing your page, hoping to get another opinion. i guess i dont really care if anyone dies/happy ending in the finale, just as long as they wraps up the final episode flawlessly.

     (0)


  3. Chris

    Yea, I was kind of wondering where the episode 1 beginning was as well. I’ll be honest and say I was thoroughly disappointed with the ending. I DID enjoy the drama as a whole though, very much so. Thanks javabeans for giving these great summaries!

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  4. Max

    That ending was thoroughly Shakespearean!

    But I’m somewhat satisfied because at least Enok and Gil Dong died together, and there was the strong possibility that Chang Whe turned out to be a competent leader despite his obvious failings. Chang Whe turned out to suck a lot less than i thought he would. We even got a little Eun Hye redemption going, at last!!!

    I wanted more In Hyung, but oh well.

    I was satisfied with the ending, if not a little traumatized, as it’s not Hong sisters status quo, but actually, the more I roll in around in my head, the more I like it!

    I always stop by to check out what you thought of the episodes after I watch them, so thanks! None of my friends got into this one, and reading your blog was as good as a discussion– I got a different point of view from my own, and someone to agree with me about the toilet humor in the beginning!

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  5. Ivytiffany84

    totally agree wif u about no body scattered. if so, everyone will be remember this drama as ‘never watch drama’. 4 me, it ends beautifully, but like everyone else, want them happily ever after. still everyone will die someday. thanks for summary throughout this wonderful but never regret to watch drama. Arrigattoooo

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  6. woahhhitsmee.

    Wow. :) I’m happy with this ending (though I’m the kind to always want a directly happy ending, where everyone’s alive). I felt this show is one of the BEST, because it dared to have a different progression of events.

     (0)


  7. hachiko

    Wow! Awesome review! Thank you Javabeans.
    I was reading spoiler in soompi, but your review always bring something that important and precious. So thank YOU!

    I was crying just reading spoiler at soompi, because this eps look beautiful in my perception, and your review prove it. That bittersweet ending is just perfect for me. You are right, they choose the right package to ending the series.

    And yes again you are soooo right about “beyond mere entertainment” there are something more about this series, maybe because it’s based on history.

    Gawd! I can’t stop crying! I hope we can have another kind of series and review just like Hong Gil Dong here.

    Kang Ji Hwan and Sung Yu Ri build an excellent chemistry here. I always enjoy every scene they have together. Jiayo!

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  8. kay

    Thank you dramabeans! Thank you for the song, it was beautiful. I found my new Coffee Prince in this series. The ending was poignant and almost inspiring, I guess I can describe it in one word…bittersweet.

    I really appreciate all the blogging you do on this website, it keeps me going through 8 hours of work and school everyday. Thank you!

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  9. choram

    It ennnnnnnnded…………..wow. What a series. :)

     (0)


  10. 10 godzilla

    The ending was totally unexpected, and I was wondering how they would keep Chang Whe from becoming a hypocrite, but still I’m so sadddddddd! I wanted to see them happy in the future! I was so sure that there would be a happy ending! NOOO! Ending was good, but I would be alright with it if I just saw one scene or even a little assurance that Enok and Gil Dong made it out alive. Just a little bit of closure that their lives did not end like that. They could have sneaked it in there somewhere. Couldn’t they? Just a little of bit of closure please! Why! Why!

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  11. 11 kishaleigh

    Eventhough the finale isnt as nice as what ive expected but still i adore this drama. Its just ok that there dead atleast they face it together…..and take note..gildong and enok are just married…they were really meant for each other..!!

    I agree with Ivytiffany84, we will all die anyway…….so 100% ratings for HONG GILDONG!!

    LOVE you KJH and SYR….hope both of you do a movie with a happy ending…with matching lovely children…

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  12. 12 hjk

    Thanks, Sarah!
    I’ll join you in the minority. I had that knee-jerk, where’s-my-happy-n-funny-ending? – reaction, too, but the more I thought about it (and rewatched it), the more it made sense. This last episode was bittersweet but profound – especially the last part with the haunting score. Loved it!

    I just wish they would have given us one more REAL kissing scene (~ fangirl talkin’ ~).
    That would have been sooo nice…hehe… ;)

    Looking forward to watching happier moments (NG’s) in the special tomorrow. :D

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  13. 13 Pully

    I don’t mind being in the majority here (or the shallow side, if that’s what anyone calls it). I did suspect something fishy was on the way, I did expect that it wouldn’t be a happy ending. I did not care who ends up with whom. But this is just too much, I feel so cheated ! (Now, I understand Eun Hye’s feelings for not getting what she wants)

    After read your summary and the ‘WTF ?’ expression got off my face. I respect that the ending is very realistic. The world cannot be changed by oneself in one day. FINE, fair enough ! I face facts, but why did they start out with flying ppl, dancing hip-hop and “l lob you”. Somewhat I did like the way thing wraps up, it didn’t end with the boring classic happily-ever-after.

    But …. Satisfying ? for me. Hella no. I still dislike the ending.

    Overall, I wouldn’t say I love this drama and it was fun, terrific or whatsoever, rather “impressive”.

    (forgive me, my english isn’t too good)

    Btw, oh yeah, the music kills.

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  14. 14 Linda

    Javabeans, thank you for your summary and outlook.

    As much as I love reading your spoilers while I’m usually still anxiously waiting for the chinese subtitles to come out, what I love even more about your summaries are your inputs and outlooks. I really appreciate your mature, intelligent, and well thought-out views, because they really opens my eyes and opinions. I hope that I can gain that ability over the years too.

    I must say that, just based on everyone else’s reactions on the finale.. I, too, followed along and despaired at the writers for giving us such an unhappy ending. But after reading your translations of dialogues, your summary, and your words – you’ve totally changed my outlook on the ending of this drama. It’s too bad that I couldn’t come up with that kind of reasoning myself.

    So, thank you for ALSO restoring the quality of this drama in everyone’s eyes, especially for allowing me to realize again, what a jem this drama was. I have truly enjoyed the journey for the past three months.

    Never ending thanks. :]

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  15. 15 izanika

    bacause from the very beggining…this drama makes us laugh so much that everyone want the happy ending … me too … but i am ok with the ending and rather happy that you have a same opinion with me… still in love with gilnok and keep waiting for another KJH’s projects…thanks a lot for your excellent HGD summary.

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  16. 16 happy

    aww…i almost cried as I read your post….it seemed too beautiful…..

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  17. 17 YM

    I think it end beautifully too..i’ve read all those spoiler in soompi and i assumed the ending was a terrible wan..But after i read your summary i finally understand that their death is probably neccesary and Hong sister really tried to satisfied the viewer by choosing to end this way..I think their history shows that GD must die in the end??
    Anyways another great sumarry from you javabeans!!!i shall turn my attention to Who are you next~~~Thanks again!!!

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  18. 18 Anonymous

    i think this story left out things the ending is wierd it seems like it should have been something different…unless i’ve missed something here…but as i recall…the VERY beginning starts off as…enok and hwal bin dang sneaking into the palace as “dancers” and starts fighting then gil dong shows up late, stylish, with his awesome new hairstyle…. and tells whoever that really rich guy was to stop trading or smuggling i believe? and then once they leave through the gates it paused and said “a few years before this” and started from the “beginning”

    so why did it end the way it did when they should be alive and not through “stories” ??

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  19. 19 Susie Q

    First and foremost, thank you SO much for all of your fantastic and prompt recaps. It’s been a pretty crazy and intense ride throughout.

    Second, I completely agree with your assessment of the finale. I’m a sucker for happy endings and despite the tone HGD had taken in this last arc, I was still hoping that we would get the sap. But you’re right that this ending was far more substantive – surprisingly so.

    Despite all of this, I am still thoroughly depressed and will go off now and watch something both stupid and hilarious . . . Zoolander?

    Thanks, Javabeans!!!

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  20. 20 justmeeee

    this is definitely one of my favorite drama. i don’t think i could have asked for a better ending… although it’d be great to see GD and YN live happily ever after, there’ll be too many loose ends with the story–it defeats the purpose of our hero, GD. i, for one, am satisfied with this drama =) im just sad that my obsession has come to an end. hopefully KJH will star in another drama soon.. bc i miss him already!!

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  21. 21 EEvEE

    wow i was worried how they will end it. but it seems like it was really good. so much better than i thought. i love way u explained it. cuz i think its so true. not a happy go lucky ending. but quite satisfying. i almost cried just by reading ur summary and i didnt even watch it yet. i really like the fallen flower and the sprout metaphmore. basically its very beautifully summed up. and im super glad too that they didnt show the dead bodies. awww so sad it ended, but quite relieved. arent u guys? altho it was a very interesting and capitvating series, im super glad that it ended. it seemed just a tad bit draggy, but it concluded well, so that is about 50% of the success. haha

    this reminds me of capital scandal when in the end, someone has to be sacrificed. but she died so beautifully that i was bittersweet about her death. i dont want to spoil it for those who hadnt watched it. but u guys should definitely watch capital scandal!! i think its even better than hong gil dong. the story is soooo beautiful and the acting is soooooo marvelous. sorry about advertising. haha

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  22. 22 jane

    it seems like a lot of k-drama endings these days are open ended. they leave it to the us viewers to use our imagination on what happens after &/or makes us keep wondering. & a lot of the times, it is bittersweet.
    (i only read your top part of the entry since i don’t want to spoil it for myself!^^)

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  23. 23 Oh

    Goodness effin Christ……wow, what an ending. My mom spoiled it for me, predicting what would happen and sadly, she was right on target. I guess it was a good ending when you explain how it’s not about how long Gil Dong lives physically but through people and legacies. But damn, when I first read your recap, I was shocked. Because I was praying to God, the ending would deal with the happy start of Episode 1, the finale really slap me in the face…….but now that it’s been like fifteen minutes since I’ve read your recap, I’m very satisfied with it. The shock has faded away.

    So once again, Javabeans, thanks for your awesomeness!!

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  24. 24 rika

    thanks for the summary!
    can’t really tell if i’m satisfied with the ending or not until i watch the actual video so i’ll understand it more…though the song they used on the final battle was really a “killer” it’s like your sending them away..bidding them farewell…until we meet again kind of thing…oh well…but one thing i’ve learned in this series is “reality sucks!” it’s like it’s never enough to do your best to have what you really want, you have to sacrifice some things in return…is it sad? or satisfying?

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  25. 25 all4movies

    Yes, it is sad that HGD and Yi Enok don’t get to live happily ever after for long, but at least it gives me some closure. It sounds like a beautiful but tasteful end because i hate seeing my favourite characters die. Much less traumatizing.

    I can at least imagine their souls living happily in a better place.

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  26. 26 rtan

    it was a sad ending for me. still not convinced why they have to end it this way… :(

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  27. 27 jinkzzmec

    after the initial shock and disappointment over the series’ ending wore off… i re-watched the episode again and it made more sense for me…the ending was bittersweet …the scene with the arrows flying over them was awesome.

    BTW, KJH is nominated as best actor in the 44th Baeksang Arts Awards… hope he bags the awards.

    thank you for all the awesome summaries…looking forward to your next project.

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  28. 28 kneeah

    that is a horrible ending!!!!!!
    the whole feeling of the show was comedy, romance, adventure, and rising out of adversity. The ending rejected all of those and turned this drama into a tragic thing we should learn from (T_T)…………. it’s good ending, but doesn’t fit the story at all

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  29. 29 tealeaf

    Definitely a mixed reaction toward the ending. I slightly disagree with you on this one, javabeans. I’m in the minority that was not surprised by the sad turn of events. There have been plenty of hints toward the end that a Chang Whe-Gil Dong’s compromise was not possible. Yet, silly me still hold out hope for the impossible: an ending in which both men agree to give peace a chance. To affirm that it is possible in this world that differences can be ironed out without resorting to a us vs. them battle-to-the-end method. And that bloodshed is not heroic. It’s unnecessary and ugly. To me, that ending IS the hopeful one. Not this.

    What stood out in this series for me were the actors – KJH, SYR, and even JGS (whom I grew to tolerate – well, after I have lowered my expectations, significantly lowered them). The writing was uneven (speaking as someone who adored all of the Hong sisters’ previous works). The character developments were wonderful. (BTW, Hong sisters – you owe me one. I waited all twenty four episodes for Chang Whe’s redemption. I’ve never been more emotionally invested in a secondary character before. I feel cheated.) Their plot developments, however, were not as strong. Seriously, I could do without the juvenile humor, the cartoony villains, the politically-incorrect side characters, the dead-end side stories, etc… (Ohhh, I think Episode 1 is meant to be the folklore interpretation of Hong Gil Dong and the series is supposed to depict the real story of Hong Gil Dong.) Despite all of these faults, I still find HGD entertaining. Hey, it gave me 24 plus hours of KJH. For that, I’ll forever be grateful toward KBS.

    Thank you javabeans. You made the experience so much better, sweeter, and helluva lot more memorable. Episode 7 recap will forever define this series for me. Ha. You’re the best. Keep on blogging!

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  30. 30 kneeah

    even if they want the ending to be this sad, there should be a transition period, where viewers are prepared for this tragic ending…… (T_T). horrible endiingggg >

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  31. 31 sadlynotkorean

    that was a BEautiful ending!!
    that was tottally spifiiness ending!

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  32. 32 alynizzle

    I’ll wait to watch the ending for myself before I take an actual stand on whether or not I liked it – but from what I’ve heard and what I’ve read I’m pretty sure I’ll be disappointed by the end of it.

    Even though this finale does seem somewhat “fitting”, I was really crossing my fingers for a happy ending similar to the first episode – regardless of realism or not. That’s just me being selfish though. I still love the series as a whole, but I wanted things to end happily, just for the sake of my comfort. But sometimes series are meant to be more than just comfort – they should open your eyes and push you to new limits of understanding.

    Gah, I’m really sad now. :(

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  33. 33 BigBangISVIP

    …seriously..cant stop crying..HOng Gil DOng is Worth watching..thanx drama beans

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  34. 34 M

    Oh my… what an ending!

    I’m tearing as I read through your reviews and looking at the pictures. :(

    Nonetheless, this has been a GREAT drama. Excellent acting from KJH and SYR. Jiayou!!

    Many thanks to you, Javabeans, for filling us with summary after each episode.

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  35. 35 nixxochick

    i made the mistake of reading what other people had posted about the ending on forums, thus ruining my day completely without actually watching the episode…
    now that i’ve watched it and read what you wrote i think this is a great ending to this story…yeah it wasn’t what i expected but i am happy that in the end most of the characters had their closure.

    i’m a bit sad however that we did not get to see the wedding between gil dong and enok…but just knowing that they did marry makes me a little happier.

    thanks for taking the time to follow this drama…i obviously have not seen the dramas that are to come for this year but im pretty sure Hong Gil Dong will be thee drama of the year for me :)

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  36. 36 ayana

    kamsahamnida javabeans.. you’re awesome as always.. i’m happy enok & gil dong ended up together

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  37. 37 jennyo88

    I agree with you Javabeans, I LOVED the ending
    It is so unusual, not the same thing over and over again. I am actually getting tired of the happy love ending, not saying that it wasn’t a happy ending in its own way.

    My interpretation of the sequence on the first episode is that of a story that people made up. Like when Enok’s grandpa was making up stories about Gil Dong when he was suppose to be dead. It was one of the stories to keep the legend alive. That’s my opinion.

    What you you guys think???

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  38. 38 kneeah

    the ending totally rejects the theme of the whole drama (T_T)

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  39. 39 bethany

    thankyou, thankyou, thankyou.

    wow. and yes, last song- killer.

    korean osts are stepping it up, it seems…

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  40. 40 HyAena

    I watched the ending live last night here in Korea, but I only speak a little Korean so your recap is much appreciated! Anyway, I personally have a lot of respect for the ending. I like that this drama had the guts to be both comedy and drama, both historical and modern, etc., etc. While I don’t think it fit the mood of the show in the first episode, it felt perfect when you look at the progression of the series as a whole.

    HGD has evolved and changed since the beginning, and whether or not the ending inevitably works for you depends, I think, on your perspective of what a show’s finale should be. Should it harken back to, if not mirror, the beginning, and “come full-circle?” Or should it be more authentic, more true to the stories’ and characters’ growth? I don’t think there’s a right answer, but for a girl who likes a good, thoughtful, “Shakespearean” (thanks Max!) ending, it certainly worked for me.

    Plus, happy endings just get boring after a while.

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  41. 41 Movall

    Thank you Javabeans.
    I was waiting all time for your recaps after reading the spoilers at soompi.
    You make the ending more beautiful to me.
    I accept the ending now. But I’m not satisfied with it, still in disappointment and sadness.
    Similar to #29 tealeaf (and I believe many of you here), I’ve never put so much attention to a secondary character like Chang Whee before. I feel cheated.

    Oh, so that GilDong and Enok finally married, thank you Sarah for pointing out the wedding hair ornament her grandfather had bought for her.

    Last but not least, I always follow your blog since Coffee Prince. Please keep on blogging. You’re always the best.

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  42. 42 Auntie Mame

    JavaBean,

    I totally agree with and second Linda’s (#14) comments.

    Additionally, for me, I did cry as I was reading your summary. Your translation of the dialog was so critical in changing my perspective of the finale. I cried because of the nobility of action by HBD, HGD and YN inferred from your translations. (Gee, your pen is mightier than the Sa Yin sword since your pen elicited such emotion from me. hee, hee.)

    And, HM was absolutely correct about HGD living forever. Look at how many times and ways the HGD story has been told. Which equates to how many times and ways his ideals have been perpetuated … to this day … and forever more.

    An immense thank you for all that you share with us. You are also a form of HGD because you change the world, at least the drama fans’ world, with your commentaries and explanations.

    See you at the next drama!

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  43. 43 Jo

    OMG, are those tears sliding down my face?
    I love this.
    The ending was WONDERFUL
    ABSOLUTLEY FABULOUS

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  44. 44 dariav-

    Thank you for posting the finale synopsis and opinions. Last night, I was too overwhelmed with disappointment that I simply hated, hated this ending.

    But yea, one undeniable fact was that it fit the flow very well. The Hong sisters had the guts to do soemthing very out of the ordinary and present us a more … meaningful, metaphorical ending apart from the usual ones to fulfill the hunger of shippers and fans.

    It’s been great accompany you through HGD, thank you so much for recommending it. Despite this poignant ending, the laughter and enjoyment in the beginning added shimmers to my [repetitive] life.

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  45. 45 annie

    OH… T_T
    I’m so terribly sad, it’s not what I expected at all. I’m those ” ended with a baby in hand ” person. whoaaaaaaaaa…… sniff..sniff… ~_~.

    I will try the darndest to dream for a happy ending IN MY DREAM.
    remember when there’s an episode where HGL got upset and start fighting, there’s a big gust windy storm. and this time too. as he’s holding Yn hand, he got very uoset thinking of how Yn will get hurt and start the whole windy situation and all those little fire arrows scattering everywhere and then everyone also thrown far away from that place.

    After several years, that little plant grow big and there’s a alittle swing. and I can hear someone calling..” mungjhongyi, don’t leave the baby outside by himself, there’s a tiger you know ” and come out Yinok saying” arraso, arraso”
    ^_^ that’s my version hua..ha..ha..ha….. sniff…sniff…

    anyway, the end with HGD standing in the building, means. even now there’s still a robin hood/hgl among us. ^^

    I’m gonna miss YN and GD….

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  46. 46 gwensaneth

    Still reeling from reading your summary. Have to catch my breath….. Almost had a heart attack…..

    The burning arrow pic was very beautiful to me. I did not expect that ending and it was mind blowing.

    Thank you very much for making my day. I can proceed with my life again.

    Thank you again.

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  47. 47 Avril

    This is the best recap!!! And the music is really killer… And the ending is great. As if they didn’t die… they just advanced to their spiritual stands…
    This must be one of the best dramas ever… I feel happy for HGD and YN because atleast they had a glimpse of happiness in the end…
    But poor Chang Whe… I feel betrayed… I think he’s come a long way, his character developped significantly throughout the drama compared to others, and my question is what was all that for??? but in the end he did what he was ought to do as a monarch, save his world. think Jang Geun Seok did a great job actually, isn’t it difficult to play someone emotionally shrunk, who is supposed act with one face all the time… But still he managed to be likable… When I watched his Black Njean video, I was totally shocked… Actually his chemistry with YiNok seemed pretty strong too… Of course Gil Dong – Yi Nok tandem is the best…
    Applause to the writers, directors, producers and the CAST: Kang Ji Hwan, Sung Yu Ri and Jang Geun Seok!!!
    Thank you, javabeans, for great recaps. You are truely amazing!!!

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  48. 48 Marzy

    actually, i dont consider this be a completely sad ending. if we look at it in the point of view of the characters and their true quest in te story , what their quest means for them. Then id say as bittersweet as it is, they showed their true belief and really followed what they fought for in the start to finish.

    i think the Hong sisters, did a good job on pulling the legend/myth part of well. because, really we can see that spark of hope at the end. since they didnt show the carnage and all.

    we see HGD’s hope for a diff world come together in the future and with Gom and others. i can understand why it had to turn out this way. although it may not be the expected ending and the one everyone wished for. i can say it was done well. it didnt skimp on good moments as well as poignant ones. plus it gives a sense of hope.

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  49. 49 gossip girl

    humm. for me the ending wasn’t as exciting as the series itself (the beginning and middle parts).

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  50. 50 shalini

    thank for being the voice of “reason”. Things seem to be more acceptable and less tragic somehow. Thank you.

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