In a heart-wrenching turn of events that I totally did not see coming, Jin Heon did not come back. He didn’t come back! Against her better judgment, Sam Soon allowed Jin Heon to take Hee Jin back to America. Jin Heon hugged Sam Soon and promised to come back, but then nothing – he did not return. And now, for part 2 of the finale. It is with equal parts love and trepidation that we turn eyes back to Sam Soon. She’s going to make it, isn’t she?
SONG OF THE DAY
Lena Park – “Reflection” [ Download ]
Episode 16 – Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Before
Maddeningly, Episode 16 opens with the mundane – a daily scene of Bon Appetit hard at work. It’s a single long take, with a lone tracking camera following members of the Bon Appetit staff as they move through the restaurant. None of the main characters are here, however. The implicit lesson appears to be that life continues to move regardless of whether we are there. Here, the camera follows the Kitchen Assistant Ki Bang, who creeps up on the Assistant Pâtissier In Hye and surprise-kisses her on the lips in the bathroom before running away. In Hye is first horrified and then extremely pissed as her romantic “first kiss” dreams have gone up in smoke. This too seems like a lesson. Sometimes, the dreamy fantasy kiss doesn’t comes true and instead you get a hairy Ki Bang ambush-kissing you in a restaurant bathroom.
While In Hye seems to be headed toward therapy, cute little Mi Joo has likely graduated from therapy and is back to her old self. She talking (a lot) and Mi Joo’s grandmother, Chairwoman Na, could not be happier. But then Mi Joo asks about Jin Heon, and when he is returning to Korea. Time seems to have passed, and Jin Heon has still not come back.
And in still more news, the catatonic assistant to Chairwoman Na, Assistant Yoon, is quitting after decades of service. Without warning, she lays off her resignation to her boss. She’s gone in a week, to see the world. It’s odd, but then again, it’s not really that odd. Everybody must live and keep on living, if not for others then for yourself.
Finally, we get to see what Sam Soon has been up to. In another voice-over, we learn that Jin Heon hasn’t called or written in two months. But Sam Soon is her own person and has continued to grow. Her piano ability seems to have improved ten-fold, and now Sam Soon can play the Elvis song “Can’t Help Falling In Love” without sheet music. Maybe this is Sam Soon’s anthem song – a person with such a heart that can absorb the pain and yet still thump and throb when love passes by.
And aside from the piano playing, Sam Soon goes about her life and her living. She goes from store to store, picking up sundries for her pastry shop and scouting the wares.
Sam Soon (VOICE-OVER): I thought I understood how hard it is for one person to understand another. I knew I was just kidding myself to think that I could understand that man, but this is beyond even that. Then again, since I don’t really know myself that well, how can I understand others?
Am I still waiting for him, have I given up on him – I don’t even know the answer.
Following the shopping, Sam Soon is waiting at the bus stop, her bus not yet arriving. She puts down her sundries and notices a billboard on the side of her bus stop booth.
Love, like you’ve never been hurt before – Alfred D. Souza
Dance, as though no one is watching
Love, as though you’ve never been hurt before
Sing, as though nobody else is listening
Work, as though you didn’t need the money
Live, as though today is the last day of your life.
It’s enough to bring one to tears. For Sam Soon, hadn’t this been her life principle? What is the result of all of the tears, the embarrassment, the sleepless nights and the waiting? She is standing at a bus stop, alone, having been burned yet again, and this time by the person she thought would be her last chance at love. This has been Sam Soon’s deepest fear, that she would end up alone just like this, for the rest of her life.
Sam Soon: And sincerely, I wanted this to be true. To love as though I’ve never been hurt before. But in the end, it’s not like that. I want to change the sentence to read, ‘if you don’t want to get hurt, then don’t fall in love.’
Would this really be Sam Soon’s ending? No, I refuse to believe that. The essence of Sam Soon is that she holds her heart in her hands, waiting for love to fill it. If she withdraws her heart, then where can love go? What would Sam Soon be, if she gives up on love?
At that moment, a voice calls out to her, “Kim Sam Soon?” OMG! IT’S GOOD LOOKING BLIND DATE GUY! I love that guy! What are the odds! Oh, relief! Good Looking Blind Date Guy has a new ‘do and looks a little thinner, but other than that, he hasn’t changed or aged a day. Plus, he notices Sam Soon’s tears and immediately his face turns to worry. Good looking AND empathetic! Things are looking up! YAY!
And of course, Yi Young feels happy for Sam Soon too. Sam Soon is doing prep work at her pastry shop, and Yi Young is on the computer. Yi Young jumps up at the news and asks if Sam Soon rejected Good Looking Blind Date Guy. A noncommital Sam Soon says no, they have a movie date planned for this weekend. Yi Young congratulates Sam Soon, but Sam Soon is less than enthusiastic. Methinks she’s still hung up on he who shall not be named.
If only their pastry business were going well. Sam Soon blames the name of their shop – she was in favor of naming it Momo. They’ve been open for more than a month and not a single online order yet. But then suddenly, “ka-ching!” goes Yi Young’s laptop. It looks like an order for a honey cake!
Sam Soon and Yi Young go bonkers, and we get a shot of the outside of the shop. The name of the shop is Patissier Samsooni – still her name, but the way it is written in Korean has now changed to 삼수니 (Sam Soo Ni). Her name sounds the same if you say it quickly, but the meaning is now far and away different from before.
It’s date time! Good Looking Blind Date Guy drives up and gets out. Sam Soon is all dolled up and she looks good too. He asks Sam Soon what she wants to do, and Sam Soon has no answer really. Good Looking Blind Date Guy notes that he has movie tickets. Hmm, a little light on the excitement side, isn’t he? But, you know what? That’s okay. Not every guy has to be a barrel of snarky monkeys, right?
At least he’s not going to hurt her like that good for nothing Sam Shi-
HOLY SHIK! Speak of the devil. Good Looking Blind Date Guy stops short as a man blocks the road. It’s SAM SHIK! I mean, the cynics among you are probably like, “Yeah, he had to come back – it was unresolved, he’s a main character and this is the last episode” but seriously, this is a shock.
At least Sam Soon is shocked. And Good Looking Blind Date Guy is REALLY shocked. He cannot believe his bad luck. I mean, this guy probably woke up that morning, thought happily to himself, “It’s fate. After all this time and two extremely odd failed meetings, I get to go on a real date with Kim Sam Soon!” He would have bet his car that there would be no chance whatsoever that Sam Soon’s ex-boss would show up A THIRD TIME and ruin the date.
Jin Heon walks around to the passenger side and tells Sam Soon to get out of the car. But Sam Soon claims she doesn’t know this person. Then she tells her date to keep driving. The car drives off, leaving Jin Heon wondering what happened.
Sam Soon and her date are at the movies, and Sam Soon is staring off into space. But a flashlight shines in her face, and it’s Jin Heon again. He tells Sam Soon to leave, but this time Good Looking Blind Date Guy stands up in the movie theater and tells Jin Heon to leave – this woman doesn’t like you. But Jin Heon won’t leave. This is so unfair to Good Looking But Too Mild Mannered Blind Date Guy. To stop this pointless bickering, Sam Soon stands up. She bows and apologies to her really pissed date, who has now been torpedoed three times by Jin Heon. Poor guy!
Jin Heon thinks that everything is now back to normal, but Sam Soon doesn’t. She’s done with Jin Heon. Jin Heon tries to ask what’s gotten into her, but Sam Soon won’t listen. Not this time.
Sam Soon walks up the long hill to her house, and Jin Heon is there again. Sam Soon tucks her hands behind her back to quickly take off her couple ring (wow! she was still wearing it!). Jin Heon gets on his knees to apologize, but Sam Soon doesn’t accept his apology. Sam Soon gives Jin Heon an earful, telling him that it wasn’t just Sam Soon who felt betrayed, but her mom and sister too. Her mom, who wondered whether Jin Heon got into an accident, and prayed at the temple daily until they learned that Jin Heon’s family got a postcard. And even then, Sam Soon’s mom was more relieved that angry, since that meant that Jin Heon wasn’t hurt. And her sister, who always claimed she didn’t like Jin Heon but secretly wished for Sam Soon and him to be together. Jin Heon betrayed all of them.
Jin Heon has no words in response. And when Sam Soon goes inside, Jin Heon tries to reason with Sam Soon’s mom, but Sam Soon’s mom throws salt in his face and tells him to take back the dog that he had given as a gift. Jin Heon has no idea why Sam Soon and her family are acting this way – didn’t they get his postcards? Sam Soon doesn’t even laugh, she’s so angry at the lame excuse. But at the mention of the postcards, there’s hope that what Jin Heon said is true. What happened to the postcards?
That evening, Jin Heon is still camped out in front of Sam Soon’s house, together with the dog. From Jin Heon’s point of view, the (over)reaction by Sam Soon and Sam Soon’s mom just needs some time to be whittled down. Jin Heon doesn’t realize what has happened, but his decision to stay put within earshot until he is forgiven is both fortuitous and cultural (perhaps a more extreme version can be seen in Episode 21 of Goong (궁) when Princess Chae-Kyung messes up and goes on her knees near the throne room until the King forgives her – her formal action was called Seok-Go-Dae-Jwoe – 석고대죄). While Jin Heon may not be able to do Seok-Go-Dae-Jwoe, he’s not going to give up until he finds out what happened.
Luckily for him then, the missing box of postcards finally arrives at Sam Soon’s house that very night. It had been sent to the wrong address, and finally after weeks and weeks, someone delivered it. Sam Soon spends all evening reading all of the postcards that Jin Heon sent. I knew it, btw. I always liked Jin Heon better than Boring Blind Date Guy.
Sam Soon heads outside and brings Jin Heon in. Jin Heon finds himself in a similar suplicative position to the last time he was there. The postcards show that he had true intentions, but don’t explain why he took 2 months to do it. Jin Heon explains – since he has been in need of a greater understanding of the world, he set out to visit as many different hotels as he could, learning as he went. He didn’t call because he wanted to make sure that he finished what he set out to do – become a person who can provide for Sam Soon.
Sam Soon’s mom doesn’t quite look convinced, so Jin Heon asks if they should go back to the noh-reh-bang – LOL! That brings a cackle out of Yi Young and even Sam Soon’s mom can’t quite hold back her smirk. All seems to be forgiven! I would squee but I’m a wary of yet another set-back, even in this last episode. Can’t be too careful, especially with k-dramas.
Like Jin Heon, Chef Lee is ruined for other women. He’s got Yi Young on his mind, and not even “no no no no you’re a drag no no no no no no no no no no no no” seems to get him to reconsider. He calls Yi Young out again, but Yi Young keeps treating him like a stranger. Yi Young seems to just want him for the occasional tickle in the hay but nothing more, and won’t even consider using less formal language when speaking privately with him. That’s pretty harsh, but Yi Young has been pretty up front about everything. She likes her fun and doesn’t want the commitment of marriage or the potential consequences of a “let’s just live together” kind of dealio.
Chef Lee stalks Yi Young and zeroes in on her home. If Yi Young won’t see reason, maybe Yi Young’s mom will listen. Yi Young stops any further conversation between Chef Lee and her mom, however, ruining Chef Lee’s plan. Yi Young brings out Samsooki pig and shoves it into Chef Lee’s chest. Nice try trying to win me with this kid’s toy, Yi Young sniffs, and then waltzes back inside. An exasperated Chef Lee then scolds Samsooki, saying “You had TWO months to do your thing, what the heck have you been doing?!?!” Hehe!
Jin Heon has borrowed Sam Soon for the night and they are snuggling under the covers. Sam Soon shows her empty ring finger to Jin Heon but then shows the ring, explaining that she took it off because she had such anger toward him (but still kept the ring since she still loved him). Jin Heon flips the covers over their heads and there’s a giggle and some other kind of noises- but then Sam Soon reappears. Jin Heon hasn’t said he loves her! Jin Heon appears to have a mental block about saying things like that- he’s never said it to anyone. In response, Sam Soon literally squeezes it out of him. Hehe!
They go back under the covers, but a new problem appears: no thingamabob. Sam Soon doesn’t want to be preggers in a wedding dress, so she kicks Jin Heon out of the bed to go get pack of thingambabobs.Jin Heon tries one drugstore, but the shelf is empty. He asks the clerk if they have any, you know. The clerk has no clue, and inquires as to the function of the thing that Jin Heon is searching. Hehe! Jin Heon leaves, not wanting to be seen as a perv. A second store is closed. Jeez! The third place, he gets beaten to the snatch by another customer.
Meanwhile, Sam Soon is all hot and bothered and waiting, but Jin Heon is striking out all over town. But then Sam Soon gets a call on the phone and surprise surprise, it’s… Hee Jin? Hee Jin is calling from America, to say thank you for the jook, and letting Jin Heon go to America with her.
It’s an odd conversation, and finally Sam Soon just comes right out and says it.
Sam Soon: You know, um, I hope that you won’t call me any more in the future. I’m not actually glad to hear from you.
Hee Jin (the slightest of pauses): I feel the same way as you. There won’t be a reason for me to call you again. Nor to meet you again.
Interesting. Hee Jin didn’t have to call to thank Sam Soon for the jook and for allowing Jin Heon to go to America. It was unnecessary. But I do think Hee Jin called to thank Sam Soon for helping Hee Jin to become reborn again, to be able to live again. And it looks like, Hee Jin will be able to do that, with her new beau Henry. Henry has done what he said he would do, which is stick by her no matter what.
So grats to Dr. Henry for sticking with it and getting his woman, and a second grats to Dr. Henry for getting accepted into the Doctors Without Borders program (is there anything this guy doesn’t do)!
In one of the days that follow, Sam Soon and Jin Heon finally have their formal meeting with the elders of the Hyun family, including the patriarch, Jin Heon’s uncle. Jin Heon’s uncle is funny and adorable (a scene stealer, the criminally underused Kim Seong Kyeom). And despite Sam Soon’s age, lack of education, family wealth or background, Jin Heon’s uncle is far too human to let those things stand in the way of love. Since Jin Heon’s uncle is the oldest, Jin Heon’s mom has to keep her trap shut as Sam Soon graciously and confidently answers every question.
Still, Jin Heon’s mom tries to stop this before it gets any further by asking to see Jin Heon in the kitchen. Jin Heon’s mom tells Jin Heon that Sam Soon just won’t do. But Jin Heon is ready for that and offers a deal – him working at the family hotel in exchange for his mom’s blessing on marriage to Sam Soon. Jin Heon’s mom scoffs at that, so Jin Heon brings out his “but she’s preggers” card again. But this time, Jin Heon’s wily mom says, fine, then tomorrow let’s just visit a personal friend I like to call Dr. Oh Bee Gee Why En.
A frantic Jin Heon literally drags Sam Soon to his apartment for DEFCON 5 emergency unprotected sex, because Sam Soon has to get preggers like right now – their marriage might depend on it! Sam Soon protests though, she wants to be thin for her wedding but Jin Heon drags her into bed anyway. Hehe!
Hours later, both Jin Heon and Sam Soon are lying in bed exhausted – both with tissue paper stuffed up their nose to stop their respective nose bleeds. Now, k-dramas often depict nose-bleeds as being the result of extreme efforts to study (i.e., see Kim Myung Min as the gangster Oh Dal Gun in the last episode of Bad Family, trying to pass his high school exams (interestingly, Sam Soon’s dad – the actor Maeng Bong Hak, plays Dal Gun’s high school teacher)). But seeing as they can’t leave things to chance, they flip the switch and study some more.
Late that night, Sam Soon wakes up to the noise of a Korea-Nigeria U-21 soccer game on television. Without disturbing Jin Heon, Sam Soon creeps out to the living room and finds her dad sitting there with a beer and anju (snackies). Sam Soon freaks out because her dad is just chilling watching television in another man’s house, and asks him what he’s doing here! Her dad tells her to relax, since this is just a dream. Sam Soon’s dad asks if she’s happy, and Sam Soon nods.
But all of a sudden, Sam Soon starts to weep again, very much like she did back at the outdoor restaurant when she thought she could not handle any more pain. Sam Soon’s dad immediately notices the change and asks her what’s wrong. Aren’t you happy?
Sam Soon: It’s just that things are going so well right now. I am so happy right now… but… I am so afraid that everything will just disappear.
Sam Soon’s Dad: Sam Soon ah.
Sam Soon (crying): What if everything goes away? Daddy, I’m so afraid.
Sam Soon’s Dad: You dummy. Getting hurt, not getting hurt, why are you worrying about things that might never happen?
Sam Soon’s Dad: My dearest third daughter has to live her life to the fullest, okay?
Sam Soon: Yes, Daddy.
Sam Soon’s Dad (holds up a fist): Hwaiting?
Sam Soon (wiping away her tears): Hwaiting! Hwaiting! Hwaiting!
After all that she has been through, Sam Soon has realized what a monumental climb she has left to attain her goals. What if she never gets married? What if Jin Heon’s heart changes again? What if her business fails? What if, what if. It is like her whole life is still resting on the razor’s edge and even a single mistep can bring it all crashing down. But her wonderful and gentle dad, never leaving her side, gives her love, hope and a balanced way to live – without fear.
And so it is that our dearest Sam Soon, so strong to the world but so vulnerable to her heart, can find her way to live and love.
Bon Bon au Chocolat III [ Download ]
Sam Soon gives a voice-over which shows her dream of marrying Jin Heon and having three kids – two daughters and one son, and in the next scene, showing an expanded and upgraded Samsooni Cake, complete with outdoor seating and an in-house florist. In reality, those dreams haven’t happened, yet. But Sam Soon did manage to attain one small dream, to play her Elvis song, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” for her love, Jin Heon. Sam Soon’s technique has improved so much – her even tempo and the richness of her playing is evident, perhaps as a metaphor for how much this woman has grown.
And in the last scene, Sam Soon and Jin Heon are holding hands and talking as they stroll down the city block towards the stairs near the Nam-San Cablecar Station. Ahead, they see an enormous staircase they have to climb, perhaps a bit symbolic of the challenges that they have yet to face.
And Sam Soon says this:
Sam Soon (VOICE-OVER): Sometimes, the thought comes to me that we might one day break up, since that’s part of being in love. But I won’t be afraid of the future. I understand the things that I have to do now: do my best to make my cakes and do my best at love, just as if today is my last day, just as if I’ve never been hurt, and to love myself, Kim Sam Soon, more.
There are so many things to say. This was my first drama, and though I didn’t know it at the time, it would be and remain my favorite drama. Until very recently, however, I was a little bit upset at the ending. My thought was, where is the happy ending? Couldn’t the writers have given Sam Soon a happy ending? Would it have killed the drama? With monster ratings smashing the 50% barrier, Episode 16 could have been Sam Soon and Hee Jin playing Go Stop for an hour to determine who gets Jin Heon and ending that way. It wouldn’t have changed the ratings at all. The writers chose to end the series this way despite the fact that they absolutely knew that half of Korea was desperately rooting for Sam Soon. And by happy ending, I mean, they could have had Jin Heon and Sam Soon get married.
I mentioned this thought to Javabeans and to Girlfriday, about whether they thought that Sam Soon had a happy ending. Both had interesting responses, and I want to share them with you first before concluding.
I’m pretty sure I would’ve been happy had Samsoon and Jin-heon gotten their neat, happy ending. But that final-episode satisfaction would have chipped away a little at my love for the overall series, which comes in part because the drama steps outside of the mold of traditional Cinderella stories. Samsoon still bears a lot of the hallmarks of a conventional K-drama (and a conventional rom-com, at that), so I don’t think it’s necessarily groundbreaking in that sense. But historically speaking, Samsoon was the point at which the heroines got to be crass and rude and still lovable, the everywoman instead of the paragon, and I think giving her the fairy tale would have diminished what the drama so wonderfully achieved all series long. She doesn’t fit in that box, so she should get her own story, not follow the preordained footsteps of Cinderella and her ilk.
I think the point may be that times are a-changin’, and the mainstream ideal for a successful, beautiful woman now includes someone like Samsoon, whereas previously she’d be the cautionary tale, the loudmouthed spinster constantly told to lose ten pounds. And that the mainstream ideal for a successful, beautiful life as a modern woman doesn’t necessarily require marriage and husband and mother-in-law stamp of approval. I would have felt betrayed if Samsoon fell in the trap of all those self-sacrificing, demure, infuriatingly wan heroines of yore and got the same ending they got, too. She was a representation of what was there outside of the conventional trappings, so to leave her with nothing but conventional trappings? Ouch. She’s realistic enough to see her world and her place in it without feeling that she’s necessarily “less than” Cinderella/Candy. So her happiness isn’t necessarily “less than” theirs, either. I find Samsoon’s ending affirming and empowering much more than a marriage or a ring would have achieved.
I think the series did a great job of giving both a satisfying and open-ended ending, which is frankly hard to do. Samsoon as a character was about breaking the mold. She was a heroine designed to break the heroine types of old, and I see the ending in the same light. It’s part and parcel of the same thing — the heroine need not be thin and waify, long-suffering and good, chaste to the old-school standards of purity, censored and demure. And her endgame need not be marriage. It can be part of what she wants, but the point is that it’s not the end all be all.
So then why would a writer back out of that, to satisfy traditional ideas of what a satisfactory ending is, based on the dramas that came before? If I had spent all that time writing a groundbreaking new kind of heroine, I certainly wouldn’t give her the same ending as every other Cinderella who came before her. That’d be lame.
Samsoon is certainly not the inventor of the open-ended finale, but the ending manages to be satisfying despite lacking a traditional happily-ever-after because it stays true to its themes. Personally, I don’t think not getting the pat ending isn’t a lack of happy ending. I think it’s part of what she has to discover about life, and the conscious choice to love somebody and give him her all, not knowing the outcome. Her biggest struggle throughout the drama is the decision to go headlong into love despite her fears of the future, and her triumph over that fear is her biggest victory. It’s not that marriage isn’t a part of that, but it’s the fact that she learns to put the endgame aside and love someone in the here and now. And that’s pretty awesome.
Samsooki’s Revised Comments:
I’ve changed my mind. Here are my new thoughts on MNIKSS.
While at first, I really did think that this drama was just a love story (an epic one, but still just a love story). But it’s not just that, it’s a lot more. The drama is a story of a woman who initially is determined to get married to a decent man, her reason being that she’s afraid of growing up and growing old by herself. Sam Soon’s problem isn’t that her dream is bad, but that her dream is ill-fitting with a woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and cannot help but be true to her desires. And she desires more than just a decent man.
The whole issue with her name is fundamental to this. I think Sam Soon’s reason for changing her name, long after school kids had stopped teasing her, was because she felt like she couldn’t get married if she kept her odd-sounding name. She wanted to be cool and special, and it wasn’t until Jin Heon showed up that she started to believe it. And so, when she finally decides to keep her name, at the end of Episode 15, this is her most important victory. It is a victory for self, for Sam Soon, who needn’t worry about what her name means in Chinese, or what others may think. She IS special, she IS awesome, she DOES rock, she IS beautiful, and she DOES kick ass.
I realize now that Sam Soon’s happy ending is that there is no ending. Her life will continue to have challenges, ups and downs. And her happiness will come from her ability to stay her course without fear, without regret, and with living life to the fullest. That’s why Sam Soon gets her happy ending. Her happy ending is the rest of her life – I can’t imagine a more fulfilling ending.
Finally, I want to thank Javabeans and Girlfriday for giving me the opportunity to come back and re-live one of the truly outstanding Korean dramas of all time. It was a hoot to recap, it was a joy to watch and re-watch, and it was an honor to do it for dramabeans and for each of you. I treasure every comment by every reader, and hope that you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I have. Until next time! *wave*
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 14
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 13
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 12
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 11
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 10
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 9
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 8
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 7
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 6
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 5
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 4
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 3
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 2
- My Name Is Kim Sam Soon: Episode 1