Drama Recaps
Joseon X-Files: Episode 12 (Final)
by | December 8, 2010 | 79 Comments

Finally, we reach the end of what I feel confident declaring one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent memory. I’ve seen a lot of dramas in the past year, and although there have been a lot of disappointments, just having one this good come along every year makes it worth it. (Last year I had two such dramas: Story of a Man and Return of Iljimae.)

The ending didn’t wrap everything up in a neat bow, and I suspect some may not be happy with the open-endedness. I’ll join you in having wished for a few more answers, but ultimately I’m too impressed with this drama to be upset. I do have some lingering questions, but they’re questions that really can’t be given concrete answers anyway. What this drama did do was raise them in an intriguing, thought-provoking way with wit and style, which is pretty remarkable in and of itself.


Yellow Monsters – “아무것도 아닌것을” (It’s not anything) [ Download ]

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FINAL EPISODE: “Rebirth of the Dubak God” (Part 2)

Having been led astray in the woods, Hyung-do’s teammates despair, since they have no way to save him or Ji Seung. In their distress, they don’t notice that a man watches them from a distance.

Hyung-do awakens in the cult’s lair, tied to a column and utterly helpless. The leader receives confirmation that his would-be rescue team has retreated.

With the cult’s secret artifact in her possession, the shaman sits at the altar before the frozen head of her father (never thought I’d type that sentence), praying to her predecessors who were wrongly accused and killed, promising that resurrection is near. With barely contained excitement, she cuts through the seal and opens the red box, revealing… nothing.

It’s empty. Ji Seung had, in fact, made sure to swap out boxes prior to his kidnapping. Now the shaman starts to sob, screaming in her fury.

Angered to be thus thwarted, the shaman has Hyung-do brought before her. She doesn’t get the answer she wants, however, because Hyung-do is utterly confused when his captors accuse him of messing with their artifact. He risked much, and violated laws in the process, to bring it to them. The shaman sees that he’s telling the truth, and decides to try another strategy.

As Ji Seung sleeps in his chair, the shaman creeps up behind him and places her hand at the back of his neck. She shoots electricity into his body, her face twisting in hatred. She doesn’t kill him, though it’s undoubtedly painful, because she has bigger plans in store for him.

Yoon-yi and Jang meet with Shinmuhwe’s interim leader, who warns them that Hyung-do is wanted for stealing from the official archives. Deciding that their best way into the cult is to make use of the court shaman’s apprentice, Yoon-yi paints a false tattoo on Jang’s neck to match those on the cult members. He makes his way to her chambers, disguised as a cult member disguised as a police officer.

Jang makes it a point to show the tattoo to the apprentice, who immediately understands that he’s an ally. She asks if has a message from the leader, and Jang fumbles to answer correctly. He’s not so good at this masquerade business, which gives this scene a humorous tone as he tries to maintain the ruse without giving himself away. He flubs the moment by referring to the shaman by the wrong term, but thankfully the apprentice isn’t too suspicious.

For instance, when she asks where she is supposed to meet the shaman — which Jang has no idea how to answer — he blusters, “You should already know that!” Lucky for him, she accepts that and hurries away to the cult headquarters.

Yoon-yi and Jang follow her, excited that their plan is working — but they fail to see that someone else has seen them, and that they are in turn being followed. It’s only when they’re far along the mountain trail that Jang spots their pursuer, but it’s too late. The man raises a whistle to sound an alarm.

Immediately, armed men emerge from their hiding spots, surrounding the duo, and hold them at swordpoint.

When Ji Seung comes to his senses following the electric shock, the shaman instructs him to look at her, and asks, “Do you recognize me?” He does: “Su-hee. So it’s you. Kang Yu-seok’s daughter.”

Ji Seung had spared Su-hee’s life twenty years ago, but she scoffs at it now, calling it a petty mercy to keep her alive after her father and the entire cult had been wiped out. Was it an act of pity, or did he perhaps realize that the cult had been right along? Na matter; that Dubak and her father will be revived soon, on the night when the energy in the heavens is at its peak. She has waited twenty years to avenge her father.

Ji Seung urges her to stop these “meaningless acts,” but she laughs in his face and demands the return of her artifact. By now, she has even greater leverage to use against him, because Yoon-yi and Jang are dragged into the building, as well as Hyung-do. Ji Seung may not value his own life above the artifact, but perhaps he’ll change his mind to have the lives of these three at his mercy.

Well, they say all’s fair in war (also love, but something tells me we won’t be bringing love into this argument), but still, Ji Seung finds this a low blow and accuses Su-hee of repaying his mercy with wickedness. He tells her insistently that there was nobody to blame for her father’s death.

She understands that he’s not going to hand it over, and gives the signal. A noose is slipped around Yoon-yi’s neck and her head pulled taut against a wooden beam. She screams in pain as the rope is pulled.

In a panic to save her, Hyung-do shouts to Ji Seung about divulging the artifact’s true location — is it truly so important to him that he would sacrifice Yoon-yi? With a haunted expression, Ji Seung looks at Yoon-yi crying against the rope, his inner principles fighting with his desire to save her life.

For long moments it seems he may sacrifice her, but finally, Ji Seung can’t take it and yells for them to stop, tears in his eyes.

The shaman smirks in victory, but still she holds back, not giving the signal to let go of the noose, wanting more from him. So reluctantly he gives in, telling Hyung-do to go and fetch the artifact. It’s at the temple — the one in the mountains that he visits every year.

Ji Seung hangs his head in defeat, and a flashback takes us back twenty years, when he had faced Kang Yu-seok, then a more junior government official. The cult leader had been condemned to death for inciting rebellion, and Ji Seung had tried to persuade him to admit that everything he had been saying was merely lies, in order to spare his own life and save the lives of many.

Kang had refused to renounce his beliefs, and stated that his powers began ten years ago, on the day he saw a grand light in the sky. Declaring that he has not been telling lies, he insists that he is innocent of any crime.

Ji Seung had countered that he stirred up the people an incited rebellion, but Kang argued that as the “Lightning Man,” all he had done was heal injuries and bring stopped hearts back to life. What is there to fear? Him? The citizenry?

What they fear is the unknown, Kang had said, bursting into wild laughter.

On execution day, the executioner had had trouble delivering the deathblow; his blade had stopped at Kang’s neck, where electricity had shot through the metal and paralyzed the man. Ji Seung, standing behind them, had stepped up swiftly to finish the deed with his own sword — and that’s when he felt the electricity himself.

Later, Ji Seung had sought out the monk at the temple.Realizing that Kang had been right about man most fearing the unknown, he had announced to the monk his intention to record the things they don’t understand. That’s the only way he will be able to move past fear, and to atone for his sin against the young daughter.

As he had said this to the monk, playing out in front of the temple had been young Su-hee — who had begun to discover her own power to shoot electricity through her hands, and to command metallic objects toward herself.

Hyung-do leads two cult members through the woods to the temple, hurrying because his team’s survival depends on the success of his mission. He periodically casts glances back at his guards, but it’s not a good time to attempt escape.

The cult prepares for their resurrection night, during which Dubak will be resurrected through the body of his enemy: Ji Seung. However, since Daddy Dearest’s head is on hand to be sewn onto the new vessel, they can discard his head.

With his usefulness nearing an end, Ji Seung is led outside to a noose. He bears his fate with silent dignity, although Yoon-yi and Jang struggle in vain against their ropes, understanding that he is being led to his death. It won’t occur for a while yet, though, because he is placed on a block of ice, ensuring that his strangling will be long and slow as it melts in the sun.

Arriving at the temple, Hyung-do begins searching for the artifact’s hiding place. Recognition sparks when he sees the monk’s gourd — that wooden sphere that monks strike in rhythmic chants. There’s a hole in its side, revealing a glint of something metallic inside. But Hyung-do acts casual, not immediately alerting the guards as he takes a closer look.

One of his captors slowly reaches for his sword behind Hyung-do’s back, but his shadow gives him away, and Hyung-do whirls around in time to avoid injury. He knocks him out with a blow to the head, then turns to deal with the second guard, who comes at him with a sword.

Hyung-do evades, managing to unarm him and knock him to the ground. It’s only then that he sees the gourd that has split open, revealing the metal ball lodged in the center. He recognizes this object, having seen several of them up close in Episodes 1 and 2 — first at the deserted village, then on the mountaintop where they whizzed by to join the strange ship in the sky, and then when it lodged itself into that hunter’s chest and killed him with an electric charge. He recalls how the man had shot the ball, which was the lifeless hunk of metal Ji Seung had pretended not to recognize on his first official meeting with Hyung-do.

Leaving the guards unconscious at the temple, Hyung-do races back with the ball tucked in his sleeve. Briefly changing his mind, Hyung-do turns and starts on another path — is he heading away? Fighting his exhaustion, Hyung-do powers through and keeps running.

Ji Seung spends the day awaiting his doom on his icy pedestal, forced up on his tiptoes as the block gradually shrinks. The cult members anxiously await Hyung-do’s return, swearing in frustration to see that their promised storm is already beginning to brew — they can’t proceed with the resurrection without their artifact, and they’re running out of time.

Finally, Hyung-do bursts through the gates and holds up the ball, later than intended but here after all. He demands Ji Seung’s release before handing over the ball, while the cult demands just the opposite. Since neither side trusts the other, they find themselves at a standstill, the quickly approaching storm infusing the exchange with added urgency.

Hyung-do draws out a gun — ah, the thing he must have turned back for — and points it at the metal ball like a robber taking a hostage. The cult members scoff at his threat to shoot their precious artifact if they don’t release Ji Seung first, and the man closest to Hyung-do advances to claim the ball by force. Hyung-do shoots him without a moment of hesitation.

That momentarily shocks the man, but the leader points out that he’ll have to reload the gun. The gang advances again, albeit more cautiously this time. Yet Hyung-do smirks and tosses the gun away — and then produces a second gun. He shoots the man in front, and now the cult baddies are genuinely worried.

The gang backs away fearfully when Hyung-do produces his third gun, which he wields while making his way to Ji Seung, whom he releases from his noose. And then the thunderstorm breaks.

Still inside, Yoon-yi and Jang struggle against their ropes. With their backs to each other, they are able to free each other, and make their way outside.

The shaman retrieves her father’s head from its box, announcing that the time has come, and carries it outside, she finds her men engaged in standoff. Hyung-do’s advantage is slowly slipping away as the cult gang’s confidence grows, while his diminishes. Ji Seung is conscious but weak, and can offer no help.

The shaman orders her men to retrieve the artifact, urging them not to fear death because they will be revived. With that, her Number 2 gives a battle cry and starts to attack. Hyung-do shoots him.

He has used his last gun, but he grabs the man’s sword and threatens to smash the artifact to pieces. The men stay back warily, but the shaman advances steadily. Registering the intensity of her gaze, Hyung-do asks incredulously, “Do you really believe in resurrection?”

Ji Seung realizes too late what the shaman means to do when she reaches up to touch Hyung-do’s sword with her bare hands — he yells a warning, but it’s no use. The shaman’s hands shoot electricity into the blade and into Hyung-do, who tries to hang on as long as he can, finally letting go and falling to his knees in pain.

Deciding to rid herself of the pesky troublemaker, the shaman grabs Hyung-do’s sword. She swings it at Hyung-do in a downward slash…

At the last moment, he reaches up to block the blade’s path — with the alien ball. Both metallic objects spark, conducting the current along its surface and into Hyung-do. Still, he refuses to let go and powers through the agony.

Behind everyone, Yoon-yi and Jang creep out of the building quietly, and knock down one cult member from behind. They’re outnumbered but at least they’re armed, and start fighting from the rear. Yoon-yi loses her sword and a man holds his blade up to her neck…

But she’s spared as the secondary battle pauses while the primary one — between the shaman and Hyung-do — escalates.

The light grows between the metallic objects, and is such a surprising sight that everybody stops fighting as they watch the showdown in shock and awe. And then, an even greater light emerges, this time coming from above. It’s the great vessel in the sky, arriving as though summoned.

The white light blinds everyone for long moments, transfixing everyone, and then disappears with a loud whoosh! Just as it did that day atop the five-peaked mountain. And when the scene returns to normal, Hyung-do is no longer there.

We fade away from the scene, and when we resume, we pick up with Jang walking through the marketplace. It’s an ordinary day, but he pauses to cast a long, saddened look up into the sky. And then he calls himself back to normal life, continuing onward with a happy smile to regard his food purchases for the day.

Ji Seung enters the record hall to add another sealed file into his vault of secrets. He lingers there for a moment, taking out an identity tag with a sorrowful expression. The tag is Kim Hyung-do’s… which he can only have if Hyung-do is dead.

And yet, perhaps he’s not entirely dead… Elsewhere, we join Hyung-do as he opens his eyes in the sunlight, as though he’s just becoming aware of his surroundings.

Hyung-do looks along the deserted beach, his body the only one dotting the long expanse of sand.

And then, turning his head, another face becomes visible in the mist. Yoon-yi stands a short distance away, and he calls out her name.

She smiles at him and says, “I knew you would come. Do you believe in rebirth of the dead?” (The words she uses connotes that she’s really asking him, “Now will you believe in rebirth?” as though asking him to believe.)

His reply is in keeping with the logical Hyung-do we have come to expect:

Hyung-do “Might not the truth hidden in those library records be merely illusions created by our own desires? However, our lives have not for one moment been illusions — because it is something precious that I am given only once. I will live not for those illusions but for reality.”

A wise answer, or perhaps more of a decision. Yoon-yi understands the implication, and asks, “So will you leave this place?”

He looks out at sea, and this scene is perhaps just as eloquent in its pregnant pauses as it is in its words. Hyung-do answers, “I saw it.” Yoon-yi asks, “What did you see?” He replies, “I know… who you are.”

Facing her now, Hyung-do walks toward Yoon-yi, closing the gap between them. He stops when he’s an arm’s distance away, and they both turn to look out at the sea.

The intense whiteness washes over them, and Yoon-yi disappears into the light, so that when Hyung-do turns back to face her again, he’s finds that he’s alone.


First, the ending:

What does it mean? Is it an allusion to rebirth, just as the episode was about spiritual rebirth? Is the beach a representation of the afterlife, or maybe some spiritual in-between? Are he and Yoon-yi from different dimensions? And most pressingly, did Hyung-do die?

Honestly, I don’t think there are solid, definitive answers, and I’m not even sure that the writers intended that. The finale didn’t wrap everything up in a pat way, and I expected as much because that has been the pattern in the individual episodes: the mystery was solved in one sense, but often it opened the door to an even greater mystery. Which is in keeping with the spirit of the original X-Files, a show I went back and started watching after beginning this one.

Speaking of which: At the outset, I’d wondered if Joseon X-Files (aka Secret Book aka Secret Investigation Record) would be too much of a ripoff of the X-Files concept, and you can’t deny the obvious inspiration and similarities. But the whole Joseon part of it? That’s a hugely compelling part of this drama, because it imbues the paranormal question with added significance, back in a time when questioning the official government line was tantamount to suicide.

But back to the ending. At first I was left puzzling over what it meant, but as is the case with a lot of the episodes, the more I think about it, the more I like it, and am even moved by it.

Hyung-do is taken from his world and seemingly “awakens” on the beach — not from sleep, but as in awareness. He squints, looks around, and finds himself in this strange place. Is it real? If he’s the one who died, why is Yoon-yi also here? Is she here to guide him to the next dimension, or to send him off? One likely explanation is that he has been plucked from his reality into some in-between state, which I don’t mean in a metaphorical sense (i.e., purgatory) but in an actual sense given the UFO’s appearance and departure. Yet I also think there’s room for interpretations of other kinds as well.

He has spent the series battling between the physical truth and this hazy, confusing Unknown Truth out there that Ji Seung is set on pursuing. In an early episode, just after he has failed to save his teacher and is drinking in depression, Jang offers him up some startlingly wise advice: that the “truth” is not as important as reality. Even if the dead governor’s words were true, if everybody believes him to be a traitorous insurgent, that is the reality that matters.

Ji Seung occupies the other end of the spectrum, always choosing that elusive, eternal, absolute Truth. He’s not so cold and principled that he doesn’t falter at times, because he cares for Yoon-yi enough to cave for a moment, but ultimately he sides with the greater truth. He says that uncovering the unknown is the way to defeat man’s fear of it, and is therefore the way to defeat the ugly weakness of human nature that drives man to hurt his fellow man. Perhaps in that sense he’s the noblest of them all, because he wants to get to the root of the problem, and is willing to make smaller sacrifices in pursuit of the greater good.

I don’t argue that Ji Seung’s is the right way, because that line of thinking can lead us down some slippery slopes; I just point out that Hyung-do makes the opposite decision, to do good in his own life. That he can’t be sure of that greater Truth out there, and what if it turns out that he’s been pursuing a falsity all this while? No, he chooses to act for what he values precious, his reality.

So Hyung-do chooses life over Truth. Or rather, he decides that more important than Truth is living his life with meaning.

In short, we give our lives meaning. We decide what we value, and we fight for that.

That’s why I believe that the beach is where he parts ways with Yoon-yi and Ji Seung — physically, sure, but also ideologically. Maybe you can see it as akin to taking the blue pill and returning home to the familiar rather than pursuing the big black vastness out there. But I think it’s a bit nobler than that, because he makes his choice with open eyes: perhaps he isn’t convinced that Ji Seung’s ends-justify-the-means outlook is the way that gives his life most meaning. So Yoon-yi, on the side of Truth, goes back to wherever she was. After briefly sharing the same plane of existence with each other (as they did in New Land), they’re off pursuing their separate truths.

At least, that’s how I see it. For now. Other interpretations welcome!

That sort of takes care of the question of who Yoon-yi is. I hadn’t initially thought of the New Land episodes (7 & 8 ) beyond the plot level, but it sort of fits with the overall message, doesn’t it? New Land Yoon-yi tells Hyung-do, as she ushers him back to his own reality, that she cannot go with him but that perhaps they might meet again someday. They seem destined to cross each other’s paths in various “realities,” but not to stay together.

I read a Korean blog where the writer wondered if Hyung-do were destined to keep being “reborn,” and that things would repeat. I’m not sure I subscribe to that theory, but it’s an interesting one to consider, particularly since rebirth is such a big theme.

In that way, I love that the drama went out on a message rather than a plot. Because I’m not sure that there’s a way that the plot of an X-Files type story — this one, or any other — could be resolved to satisfaction. It was enough for me to see that there was an overarching theme, and to admire the way that we gradually saw how the seemingly disparate plots were linked together.

For instance, the mark of Dubak-gyo: We saw it in the haunted house in the red talisman dating back to the Goryeo era, as well as painted on the wall underneath the mural of the many-armed god. (It’s not the main large circular painting, but off in the corner.) It’s also the mark in the prophet’s den, the pattern that indicated where to find Hyung-do when he was lost in the well, after he’d made his trip back from New Land.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say that a tiny part of me holds out hope for a season 2, which isn’t SO outlandish because it’s a cable show, and generally cable dramas are more likely to produce multiple seasons (see: Rude Miss Young-ae, Chosun Police). But with Kim Ji-hoon off to the army for two years, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I’ve liked Kim Ji-hoon for a while, since seeing him first in the underrated 2007 drama Flowers For My Life, after which he acted in a string of dramas playing good-looking but somewhat flat characters (Golden Age of the Daughter-in-Law, Love & Marriage). He didn’t blow me away here, but I do think he was solid in the role, and it’s the best I’ve seen him act. His dry sense of humor and his gruff, sorta-stodgy air really worked with Hyung-do’s straitlaced personality.

This is also my first time seeing Im Jung-eun act, and even though the romance angle was given almost no time at all to play out, I loved the relationship between the two characters, and the unspoken bond that sprung up between them. It’s not a love story; their affection, or however they choose to define it, is one more thread connecting them, but it doesn’t take the fore in this story. There are bigger decisions to make and realities to pursue.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a drama that’s been so well-written and -executed — often dramas can be entertaining and addictive without being written strongly — so I’m happy to have found one in Joseon X-Files, and a little sad to let it go.


79 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Ani

    *tear* It’s really my send off for Kim Ji-hoon. And I guess I’m sad too because it feels like I’m saying goodbye to Mulder and Scully (the original X-Files) all over again. X’)

    Thanks jb. It was nice while it lasted. <3

  2. Muthu


  3. anais

    This show really made me kick myself for having lost all my Korean and not yet being fluent again. It was so obvious that I was missing so much, even with electric dictionary in hand and sometimes even with translations.

    Glad nonetheless to have seen this. Great production.

    (I’ve loved Im Jung-eun ever since her brief turn in Swallow the Sun. Kim Gabs-soo needs no elaboration. I only wish they had a little bit more time to further develop Kim Gabsoo’s character and some of the mystery.)

  4. YM

    I just want to know what Yoon Yi is. I loved this series, questions creepiness and all. Thanks JB.

  5. asianromance

    Thank you for the recap!
    I love your interpretation! But I am still befuddled by all the things the ending can mean and had wished for this drama to be a 20 episode series to hopefully learn more abt Yoon-yi (like what was on her body that freaked out that the prophet a few episodes ago) . a mark? a whole through the chest??

    Anyways, this drama was an incredible journey. Thanks javabeans for covering it!

    • 5.1 Pam

      I thought she was going to be a man…and that’s what the prophet saw! Lol! What a big hole in the story!

  6. alice

    i still don’t get it. I have a feeling it’s just like LOST, which I don’t get either.

  7. Amg1

    JB. Thank you so muchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
    For your hared work.

    I was so move by the ending of this drama that it made me cry! Having said that I just finished watching the last part of episode 12 and we can see clearly that Hyung-do disappear after the big UFO left.

    Now we can conclude that;

    1- he literally died and refuse to be brought back to life by the alien entities.

    2- He is alive in a new reality.

    3- Yoon-yi is from the past as it is portray in the painting of her the dated back @ 300 prior their time, or she is of alien origin, and when he was abducted he then saw who she really was.

    There still many ways to interpret this drama, I like the way you explain about the way “Fate” may play in our life’s v.s. the way we create our own reality!!!!

    Last but not least I agree with you concerning how well this drama was made, from cinematography especially episode 7 IMHO the mos beautiful one, to the writing. editing, etc, etc, over all one of the best K-Dramas ever made, I miss this drama, may the drama Gods one day give us a second season!!!!!!

    Thank you again…. : O }

    • 7.1 Amg1

      *edit* “Hard”….

  8. Lola

    Thank you so much! I never would have even known about this drama if I hadn’t read about it here. I had a hard time for the first couple of episodes, but it got really good for me after that so I;m glad I stuck with it.

    The end wasn’t too bad; it fit with the rest of the drama. It would have been a little strange and awkward if they had resolved everything all at once but I’d at least like to know answers to questions that were posed and these last two episodes, that is what happened to Hyung-do who is Yoon yi. I’m not really expecting a sequel either but I think if there were one, it would be with a whole different cast except maybe for Kim Gab-soo. I wish I had a few more answers but I can definitely still respect the writers’ work here.

  9. sunshine

    This show was amazing, and though I also wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending (sooo…who is Yoonyi really?), I was somewhat satisfied. It’s been a very strong series throughout.

  10. 10 MoonTouched

    Maybe she’s Mulder’s lost sister, sent back by the aliens to the Joseon period…heehee.

    I just loved this show. Thanks so much for the recap!!!

  11. 11 sequestial

    Reading Javabeans’ thoughts on truth, reality, life and meaning made me think back to Camus and the Absurd.

    Which makes me confused and then sad, but then like Jang I resolve to be happy again, but everything crashes down once more.

    It’s all very complicated.

    • 11.1 im_eve

      we all seem to try to live like jang. musing about the past/a hard life once in a while…deciding to live happily the next while.

  12. 12 ktb

    Thank you for all of the amazing recaps! I’ve been salivating at the thought of watching these, but haven’t dared to because this is a series that I really want to take time to watch.

    One more week of finals and then I’m going to eat take-out and Shin ramyun, and watch this marathon style for hours.


    • 12.1 Lenita

      ditto! *although it’s xmas/new year’s break for me*

  13. 13 koreandramalover/kdl

    Javabeans, may i know where i can watch this fabulous drama with eng subs?

    i hv tried dramacrazy, mysoju, kimchidrama and dramafans but could not find the drama…

    is it under a different name?

    please help…

    based on your immensely captivating recaps alone, i am so looking forward to watching the whole drama non-stop during the school holidays now and really savour every impressive morsel…

    thanks so much for your help! 😉

    • 13.1 sequestial

      Check in mysoju, where it’ll be under the name ‘Secret Investigation Record’.

      • 13.1.1 koreandramalover/kdl

        thank you so much, sequestial, for your reply and the info! bless u! 😉

    • 13.2 Amg1


      Enjoy!!!!! : O }

      • 13.2.1 koreandramalover/kdl

        thank you so much Amg1 for your reply and the info.
        bless u! 😉

    • 13.3 beggar1015

      Viki.com (nee Viikii) has it under Secret Book. Oh wait, they’ve gone back to Secret Investigation Record. Whatever.


      • 13.3.1 koreandramalover/kdl

        thank you so much beggar1015 for your reply and the info!

        bless u! 😉

  14. 14 sequestial

    And also, loved how you posted Yellow Monster songs for both episode 1 & 12 recaps!

  15. 15 yeohweping

    MBC should have done more in-house productions for themselves if the standard of the dramas done by MBC produce is that good so that their own ratings won’t be so low like lately.

  16. 16 bandaid

    surely the best series ever.

  17. 17 Taohua

    This is tied for my favorite drama of the year w/King Geunchogo. Thank you for doing the recaps! I’ve been reading all along but didn’t get a chance to post. Loved reading your thoughts on the nuances and symbolism presented in each episode! Some of the what you inferred about the ending are things I hadn’t even thought about, but that just gives me food for thought 🙂 Thanks again!

    • 17.1 mskololia

      I started King Guenchogo and it is good, but the subbing is slow…only up to epi 4.

      Have you checked out Yakcha’s trailers on Viki? This is another cable drama….It appears that they may be picking up some steam.

      • 17.1.1 Taohua

        King Geunchogo is the IMHO so far been amazing…and probably one of the better sageuks to have aired in the past two-three years. Gam Woo Sung <3! The subber who is working on KG is also subbing Giant and Flames of Ambition (along with a couple of other projects he just finished). But since I'm a fan of his subs and am watching the other two series…it's worth the wait 🙂

        I have checked out Yakcha…heard the writer is great but the PD not so much. Is Viki subbing it? I will definitely check it out then! I didn't think anyone would pick up on subbing this.

        • mskololia

          Yes, Viki picked up Yakcha but need subbers….

          I will wait for King Geunchogo’s subbers then because the episodes that I saw were riveting, but I cannot watch w/o subs. I’m partial to sageuks so my views are biased…. 🙂

  18. 18 nell123

    Thanks for the recaps, javabeans ! Without them I wouldn’t have known about this drama. Definitely one of the best in 2010.

    The only thing I’m not happy about is that we don’t know who/what Yoon yi is? We were given some clues but noting substantial. I wish we has more time to unravel the mystery around her.

  19. 19 deedrama

    Thank you javabeans, you gave me access to know this drama. I don’t brave enough to watch this, because it’s scary story in a witty way. It gives me goosebumps when I’m alone, remember what if and another what if just like the story.

    But, talk about the closure scene, what happen if the one standing on the beach is JooWon instead of Hyung Do? And the one who ask to leave the place is Ra Im instead of Yoon Yi?

    • 19.1 deedrama

      Just kidding.. I don’t like that kind of ending. It will give me another goosebumps if SG are like that.

  20. 20 titi

    Jb, I just realize, you cover a lot of kim ji hoon dramas… not exactly complaining here… the boy’s acting improves significantly while still maintaining his – oh so good I wish he were my son so I can see him everyday- looks. I hope you will keep tracks of him while in the army and post them here

  21. 21 maria

    JB, you say that the romance angle was given almost no time at all to play out, and you’re right. but while this definitely was not a love story, from where i’m sitting, this has certainly been a story about love. you’ve managed to illuminate me on a point that was eluding me throughout all 12 episodes.
    i kept LOOKING and looking for that *moment* when the *romance* was going to kick in (as per all the hints and subtle steps towards it that was provided)…and then this last scene jumps out at me, and i realize: the romance was always in the attempt. it had been there all along.

    the mystery was provided, because we couldn’t reconcile how minds met other minds, and truth challenged reality (and vice versa), and everyone stuck to their guns at first, and simply LEARNED during the course of finding WHICH one was actually THERE, that it’s ALL true. it’s all true.
    the meeting of minds and hearts and people are so very conflict-laden, that so many people give up on continuing the search for common ground. but everyday, we solve some new part of this mystery in the ATTEMPT to just… get to know, more and more and more. ironic, because the more we know, the less we actually do, really. but i guess the romance is that the attempt leaves us not in satisfaction and satiation for answers– it simply leaves us earnest in the thought that the attempt is worth it anyway.
    coz people and their emotions and what they choose to see and hear and believe are so so disparate, so subjective. it’s all so ephemeral.
    but that doesn’t mean that it — all of it– isn’t true when it is.
    i feel like that’s what you were saying– that we choose what’s true for us, and live our lives by it, because they become the reasons why we get up everyday, and ATTEMPT, take a stab at LIVING, whatever the hell that means. and that THAT is not to be discounted, and should really count for something. 🙂

    i really like that you pointed out how it ended on a theme, rather than plot, because it’s such a nice way of congratulating a good show on a job well done. ..just for having succeeded in making a point that i believe it intended to make all along. 🙂

    thanks for all your effort, JB! 🙂

    // rave: over. hahaha!

    • 21.1 cat

      Wow, you should major in philosophy 🙂

  22. 22 kdlover

    I might pick this up and I still havent seen story of a man either..

  23. 23 jojo

    Thanks JB…for your recaps and insights…watched this because of them and really enjoyed it. I wondered about the ending because they parted, but I’m satisfied with it. I can see a season two . (when KJH gets out of the military?) Anyway, great job! Thanks again.

  24. 24 lOveKorea

    I can’t thank you enough Javabeans! I’ve been waiting for it! Because all the individiual episodes made me confused and didnt know how to explain the ending! YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!

  25. 25 Ariel

    We might get another season for this great show if that happens who do you think would make a great Hyung-do?

  26. 26 JJ

    I’m also a huge fan of this series & of course my one & only Kim ji hoon 🙂 I wished he’s not in the military so he can read your comments JB (or he may still have access to internet but maybe minimal?) re this great drama!
    I can’t believe it’s finished, I was hoping a drama as good as this one would have been extended! I still have to watch this final epis but read your recap first. Thnx again for sharing your excellent recaps & review/comments on this well done drama series! I can’t wait to get a copy of this dvd for sure!

  27. 27 mskololia

    Thank you JB! Enjoyed your commentary on this wonderful drama.

    Thank you tvN for bringing this tremendously well written and executed drama….I am sad to let it go too. 🙁

    The ending was beautiful.

  28. 28 eclipse

    This is one of the best drama of the year. The story is really well-written, and beautifully executed. Do you (or anyone) happen to know the name of the writer & his/her other works and also the director of the drama? I do really hope they will collaborate again.

    Although, i`m still confused about the ending. And who Yoonyi really is..

    But i love how the ending, showed Hyungdo-Yoonyi memorable moments together. Although this drama is not about love story, but i find it`s really romantic in its own way.

  29. 29 adney

    Instead of thinking too hard, I will just want to say that Yoon Yi is an alien, ehehe. Anyway, I like early episodes of JXF compare with the later on.

    JB, thanks for your claim about the best drama, that’s why I decided to watch this drama ;p

    • 29.1 pillowhead


  30. 30 hunterbear

    Oh thank you thank you O great one. I personally enjoyed the series, and it over-shadowed every other show that has aired during the past year.

    I think I might have to hold my breath waiting for season 2. Fingers crossed that I don’t just die in vain.

  31. 31 Rina

    Thanks so much, JB, for recaping this…otherwise I might have overlooked this gem.
    I am glad that ending was a little vague or that all the ends were nicely resolved because it would have taken away from mystery and premise of the show. This show really made me think, since it wasn’t always clear cut. The show was also very appealing visually, I love how they handled the lighting, color, camera angles, etc.

    I’m sad that it’s over. KJH, I miss you! 2 years feels so far away but I’m not holding my breath for a season 2.

  32. 32 oh! tht! chick!

    LOST in more ways than one (psst describes my feelings as well if ye were wondering !)

  33. 33 pabo ceo reom

    Little gem of the year 🙂

  34. 34 thunderbolt

    For Sarah and fans of JXF:



    • 34.1 mskololia

      I enjoyed the various write-ups…thanks for sharing.

  35. 35 Bien

    Thanks so much Dramabeans!

    I only got to be interested in this drama

    because of your Recaps.

    I ended up watching the drama because of you

    and that’s a first for me.

    I don’t what drives you to do all this,

    but we your readers surely appreciate

    the time and sweat you spend writing all these.

  36. 36 nynaeve

    Does anybody know where to watch/download the original X-files series? I’m quite intrigued since I haven’t watched a single episode of it. (I was still in elementary school when it aired.)

  37. 37 Sara

    I just finished it… and I wanna cry =( Don´t want it to end… and I guess I´m a bit stupid cause I still don´t understand XD The whole series is such a mind-fuck XD

  38. 38 Dele

    “No, he chooses to act for what he values precious, his reality.”

    I’ve always thought reality is based on what one’s perspective of the truth is. My reality, your reality, his/her reality is based on the way we see the world and the things in it. Most people would say there is one reality but multiple persepctives, but maybe there is multiple realities based on multiple perspectives. We’ll never really know what reality IS, reality is what we CHOOSE to believe.

    I though the ending had a very Inception feel to it. The same wonder of whether this is “real” or a “dream”
    For me I wonder if maybe that great light in the sky took him to another dimension, universe, whatever you want to call it, and Yoon-yi is somehow like a part of his subconscious the part of him that wanders been “truth” and the “unknown”

    I love that there is no clear answer, no clear truth, it is what you choose to believe it is, what you choose to see it as. It is the meaning YOU give it, because everyone sees it through their eyes and it will be different from another’s. I like that the message is asking you to decide for yourself what meaning you’ll give it, what will you choose to believe, accept, and ignore.

    Thanks for the recaps. I’d love another season, but I don’t think we need one. We won’t get all the answers, that’s the point of the unknown, you don’t know.

    Great ending, great drama, great recaps JB!!!!

  39. 39 victor

    “The white light blinds everyone for long moments, transfixing everyone, and then disappears with a loud whoosh!”

    why didn’t you write that kim-hyeong-do dissapeared in this scene!? now he was there looking at the ufo, and in the next second he was gone (i just noticed this watching the HD 720p version of the episode)

  40. 40 tamtam

    Thank you JB, for your review led me to this awesomeness. I was saving all my comments for the final episode, so please excuse the wordiness.

    While I’m not a sci-fi geek, I have many friends who are, particularly my roommate who expose me to the X-Files series during my college years. I guess thanks to them I’m quite familiar with the genre. So I must say, I had my reservation when I saw the title and thought it’d be a “Korean version” of the original X-Files. But to my surprise it was nothing like I imagined. The cinematography was stunning, first of all, the stark color and camera angles, none of which I’ve ever seen in a popular sci-fi series. Like you’ve mentioned, the historical backdrop sets it apart from western series. I enjoyed learning some Korean history from your notes and notes from the subtitle.

    Of course, some episodes were a little more predictable than others, but like you said, there’s an overaching plot linking these episodic adventures together that kept things interesting.

    The characters and their chemistry are also noteworthy. Kim Gab Soo is an awesome actor. I started watching this very low-production comedy that’s currently airing called All My Love, and had no idea that the man playing the bumbling president was also playing the great CSM (cigarette smoking man). I like that they took some likeliness from the original, but completely flesh it out into a different character.

    The dynamic between Moulder and Scully is what made the original, so I was a little wary of how that’ll play out with our two leads. But I was quick to judge the cover, because Yoon-yi and Hyeong-do have a deeper relationship, one that doesn’t need to go further towards romance, one that’s forged by Fate.

    I was expecting the ending to be even more elusive, actually, I thought it’d end with the light disappearing. But with your take on it, I see that the last scene was needed to let the viewers know that Hyeong-do has come to a conclusion, that their search was not all in vain, and to let Hyeong-do and Yoon-yi part ways. Although you didn’t outright say it as much, I do think Yoon-yi is a humanoid alien or a time traveler given the clues. Like others, I keep thinking back to the old sage’s comments and what stopped him from the eye-rape. I agree, it doesn’t matter if Hyeong-do is really dead or in another dimension, it’s more important to know he’s moving on with what he’s learned. It’s the best ending I’ve seen in a Kdrama, and it’s a perfect ending to a episodic series. It leaves a door open for us to speculate, even poses some new questions, but not so open that it didn’t answer any of the previous questions. I hope for a season two with a new leads but also some old ones like the adorkable magistrate Jang and CSM to keep it grounded.

  41. 41 Yui

    i love your take on the last episode. thanks JB!

    the last time i had a ‘mindfuck’ watching a series was when i watched (Neon Genesis Evangelion- tv anime series)

    bring in the hardcore meta stuff! XD

    • 41.1 Yui

      * that i enjoyed watching, that is. 🙂

  42. 42 jxffan

    After watching this series, I don’t think I’m gonna watch any other kdramas for a while. It was a brilliant experience and I’ll be nursing a heartache trying to get over the fact that I’ve finished it.

    Thank you so very much for your recaps and for sharing your thoughts and interpretations…they were of great help in giving me a clearer look at every single episode, as well as the themes alluded to throughout the series.

    I wish more people would discover what a gem JXF is!

  43. 43 mika

    just finished watching. although i found it interesting, i don’t appreciate the finer points of this drama that had many of you claiming this to be drama of the year (2010).

    i let out a groan of despair when hyeong-do “disappeared” together with the white light. i was hoping for a “happy” ending with perhaps more romantic times with yoonyi. it was just as well i guess as the ending gave off a very nice x-file vibe.

  44. 44 doozy

    What an awesome show! After watching the ending, I was left with a lingering sad feeling. Perhaps, Hyung-do died, but like you wrote, he now realized his stance on the truth vs. reality continuum, which makes the ending thought-provoking and bittersweet, in a sense. With regards to who Yoon-yi is, there are hints dropped along the way that makes me think that she is of extraterrestrial origin.

    Even though the romance angle of Hyung-do and Yoon-yi wasn’t the primary focus of this show, I felt that Kim Ji Hoon had the most chemistry with Im Jung-eun than with his previous leading ladies. Also, I hadn’t recognized this before, but Im Jung-eun did a wonderful job as Yoon-yi, not to mention she is gorgeous. I hope to see more of her in the future.

    Thanks so much for taking on this project and providing us with consistently well-written recaps, javabeans!

  45. 45 doozy

    Thanks so much for taking on this project and providing us with consistently well-written recaps, javabeans!

  46. 46 jooggy

    Thanks for all the recaps! It really helped a lot! I just wished that more can be told on “what” Yoonyi is (especially after what the prophet said about her), or what kind of past she had. Not saying that the truth is really needed, but at least more hints will be good.

    And I’m wondering why New Land Yoonyi existed concurrently with the ‘real’ Yoonyi. Makes me wonder if the real Yoonyi is some kind of clone. And out of all places, why did Hyungdo end up in that well when he left New Land..

  47. 47 nene s

    I’ve seen many un-originals in this sci-fi series: X-files stories and gloomy backgrounds, French and Japanese cinematographic styles. Yet I agree with you that I enjoyed it in its entirety. A genius move is putting it in a historical Korea. Congratulations!

  48. 48 Fafa

    i hate open endings. the other episodes could all have been described scientifically, like atomic elements disfiguring people, or flying metal objects moving because of a strong magnetic filed but the ending just ruined it all for me.

  49. 49 Sun

    Omg~ I’m not the only one who was confused with this thank you. lol

    But really I did wish that there was something that would happen between Hyung Do and Yoon Yi. But then agin I kind of don’t hate the ending at the same time? at least it’s consistent… I mean so far all the episodes end in a way that we can still interpret it in our own way right?

    But I seriously don’t understand who Yoon Yi is (I just found it shocking that Im Jung Eun looks like Krystal…) Like when I watched the part with the prophet? I really wished He would explain it. Plus with Ji Seong watching over her and all that… Huhuhu.

    I wish they just explained who/what she was.

    Thanks for your thoughts about this! It cleared things abot this show for me~ ^^

  50. 50 Yaya

    This is my first time commenting on this site, though I’ve enjoyed the recaps here – thanks for the wonderful recaps, it made me love this amazing show all the more 🙂

    And yes, I stumbled on to this show very recently.. I’m ashamed to say 🙁 But better late then never yea

    I may be way off base here… but the concept of time being a circular loop seems to be an ongoing theme in this series. Our modern concept of time, is very linear with years, months, weeks, days, hours etc marked in a linear progression. So we get older, we age. But here, with Yoon Ni, and the mural of Kali (she’s the Hindu Goddess who represents Time and Death/Change – which is I think precisely why they had that mural) along with Ep 7 & 8 where we’re not sure which is forward or backward in ‘Time’ I think the writers are trying to show us that Time is endless and eternal, and that trying to ‘rationalise’ it in our linear way is our ‘reality’ but not ‘truth’. This is perhaps why there’s an ageless past-present-future Yoon Ni? Or why there’s a man who uses the modern firearm in Ep 9? I’m not even sure I’m explaining it the right way though. In Hindu and Buddhist mythology, there is no beginning or end in time. Time and Space are interchangeable ie. Anywhere vs Anytime. Also, the final scene brought to mind the movie ‘Contact’ where Jodie Foster’s character has a conversation with her ‘father’ in a secluded beach. The ‘aliens’ there had also messed with time, yes? I think she faced the same situation as Hyung Do then as well – reality vs truth. Perhaps Yoon Ni is not just a time traveler, but Time is a corporeal form – ok that is way too ‘out there’, but then again with this series, who knows 😉

    • 50.1 ailee

      don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

      this is my second time reading these recaps and yet i ‘m still stuck in this state of confusion. but loving every second of it 🙂

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