Best. Finale. Ever. Okay, not EVER, in the history of all dramas. But goddamn, is it awesome. It’s even better than what I had hoped for, and bubbling over with so much laugher and heart, and surprise – heroism – that I’m still grinning from ear to ear. I love it when a drama saves its best for last. Flower Boy Ramyun Shop, I love you so. You may not be everyone’s favorite flavor, but for me, you’re seasoned just right.
The drama went on out on solid ratings for cable network tvN: average 2.86%, and an episode high of 3.54%.
EPISODE 16: “The Heart Boils Over”
It’s Christmas time and the boys watch old movies by the tree. Hyun-woo asks where Teacher went, and Ba-wool says she went to go look at dresses…
At the wedding dress shop, someone comes out wearing a big white dress… and it’s Dong-joo, of course, shopping for the big day. She sort of half-assed picks the one she’s got on, not really caring what she’s going to wear. That’d probably be a message to you about marrying the wrong guy, yeah?
Eun-bi doesn’t really feel comfortable in her white bridesmaid’s dress, and Dong-joo snaps, “Are you going to stand in my wedding wearing your volleyball uniform then?” Heh. I bet she’d try. It’s mostly ’cause she feels nekkid in the strappy dress, and Dong-joo adds, “…we’ll have to stand Chi-soo in the back.” Haha. To keep him from overheating at the sight of her? I love that people talk about him like he’s a bomb.
Chi-soo wallows in bed, covered with his Pororo blanket for comfort, and listening to his mother’s song over and over on repeat. Dad looks in on him and sighs, asking his secretary what he thinks. Secretary reminds him that this is what Chi-soo’s mom used to do, every day.
Eun-bi’s not faring much better, as the boys discover her cooking in the ramyun shop in the middle of the night with the lights turned off, like a ramyun ghost. They get the daylights scared out of them, but she hardly even registers their presence, answering them with far-off looks.
They watch from outside the store, and Ba-wool says this sight is a familiar one – it’s what her dad used to do when her mom died. Aw.
Chi-soo sits in his room and cooks up a silver pot of ramyun, as Eun-bi does the same in the shop. She takes a taste, “No matter what I add, it’s bland.” Chi-soo takes a taste of his, and sighs, “This isn’t the taste. Why is it so salty?” Go figure it’s the ramyun connection that melts my heart.
Kang-hyuk watches Eun-bi day by day with a heavy heart, and tries to lift her mood with his usual flirty ways, but she remains cold and distant. He picks up on her chin-scratching habit, though it looks like his is a reaction to being rejected.
There’s a scuffle in the ramyun shop over some customers who refuse to pay for their meal (because the ramyun is all curly, ha) and when Hyun-woo gets yelled at, Ba-wool steps out in front of him. Awwwwww.
Then Eun-bi walks up, and Ba-wool does this adorable you guys are in big trouble now ’cause my NOONA is here! But then he quickly deflates when Eun-bi apologizes and bows, telling the idiots that it’s her fault the ramyun was all curly. Gasps abound.
The whole room goes silent, and Kang-hyuk says enough is enough. He closes the shop and calls an emergency meeting, “Everyone gather in front of the Pillar.” Ha. He tells them about Chi-soo’s big sacrifice to save the ramyun shop, and the boys are moved, though Ba-wool covers it up with annoyance at Chi-soo acting all cool by himself.
Everyone looks at Eun-bi, waiting for some reaction, something to change and snap her out of it. But she just nods, takes it in, and says that it’s for the best, since everyone went back to their rightful place. They watch her walk off like a zombie.
Everyone gets ready for Dong-joo’s wedding, and Kang-hyuk asks Eun-bi if she’s going to continue like this, to not peer into her heart. She’s firmly planted in the land of denial though, and says she’s already done so.
She smiles and leaves him in her room, and he puts his hand to his heart, “She smiled again. That sexiness is gone.” He lies down for a nap. It cracks me up that Eun-bi’s baseline is sass and anger, so much that her smiles are an indication that something’s not right with her.
She heads downstairs and stops to look at the Christmas tree, and finds a card from Chi-soo to Kang-hyuk. It just says: “Onion, No problem. –Chwaa.” She puts a hand to her heart, and then lowers it to her stomach because her constipation is acting up. Heh.
She manages to take care of business in the bathroom, but then the toilet gets clogged and won’t flush. So she ties up her dress and grabs the plunger. She tries half-heartedly a few times, but it still won’t unclog, and she wonders aloud, “What’s stuck there?”
The words trigger flashes of who else, but Cha Chi-soo, shouting after her, “Intern!” over and over, and then his outburst at her, that she got stuck in his heart. Plunge, plunge. Chi-soo telling her not to go touching any old poop, as he pulled her away from Kang-hyuk.
Plunge, plunge. Chi-soo telling her that he knows it’s stupid for lions to go eating grass but he doesn’t care, because “I just want to hold you. Eun-bi-ya.” She lets go of the plunger, everything in her heart finally unclogged and coming to the surface.
Everyone gathers outside the bathroom door, waiting for her, asking if she’s okay. Suddenly she comes bursting out, waving the plunger in the air like it’s a battle sword, screaming that of course she’s not okay, because how could they have sent Chi-soo away like that, and they don’t even know how he’s living or if he’s even eating, for crying out loud!
Ba-wool beams, “You’re finally my noona again! Noona, you’re back!” Aw. Kang-hyuk chimes in, “Now you seem like my wifey. Sexy again.” So-yi tells them they ought to hurry, since Chi-soo is leaving for the States… today. WUT? Eun-bi: “Hap-nyun-sshi, WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME THIS NOW?!” Hee. I love that she still calls her that.
She calls Dong-joo to say that she won’t be able to make the wedding today. “I’m going to pluck a rose!” and runs out, plunger still in hand.
The boys watch her run off and then ask So-yi if Chi-soo is really leaving today. She smiles, happy as you please, “Nope.” Hahaha. She was messing with her? Okay, I love this. She’s running there all high drama, and he’s not even going anywhere? LOL.
Dong-joo actually smiles to hear that Eun-bi’s running off to follow her heart, not even caring about her wedding. She puts a hand over her own heart. And then Coach walks into her waiting room, with Love Actually placards.
“They all say you’re the perfect bride / [picture of Dong-joo, arrows pointing out features] / But I know all the plastic surgery you had done five years ago / [picture of the chubbier high school volleyball player Dong-joo] / But even since then you… / were the perfect woman to me. / Be happy.”
Oh my GOD, I’m a freaking blubbering mess right now. Could he be any sweeter? I always thought this couple was cute, but I didn’t think they’d make me CRY.
Tears pool in her eyes. He smiles at her, gives her a thumbs up, and walks out. He heads down the hall with a hand over his heart, murmuring to himself, “Nothing happened.”
And then… she appears behind him, “Really, was there nothing?” And she swoops in for a kiss. Yay!
Meanwhile, Eun-bi runs through the street like a crazy person, wielding her plunger and trying to hail a cab. I sort of don’t blame anyone for not stopping. So she just hauls ass down the street, running like the wind in her dress and heels. The boys run behind her, and then they pick up a tail, first Chi-soo’s posse, then the neighborhood ajummas (who marvel at how many MORE flower boys she’s got following her around now).
They run and run like a really wacky marathon, as Eun-bi flashes back to memories of Chi-soo. At home he does the same, wanting to run out of there, but hesitating at the memory of Dad’s warning, and at Kang-hyuk’s words that he’s not alone.
There’s a demonstration going on outside Cha Sung, against the new development plans. Eun-bi happens to run right past them into the lobby, waving her plunger, and they take it as a sign to rush in with her. Ha.
So suddenly there’s a mob and she’s stuck in the middle of it, separated from the boys. She struggles through the sea of people, and then suddenly floats above them and gets lifted out, by one very tall Pillar.
He’s brought her running shoes too, and stoops down to help change her out of her heels. That’s so cute. He tells her that this is the last of her being his wife: “Now you have to go it alone, as Yang Eun-bi the woman.” He asks if she’s ready, and she gives a big smile. He points her to the stairs, and she takes off running.
He lies down for another nap, though this one is strategic – he trips the security guards that run after her. She gets to the foot of the stairs, and then her ex shows up, out of the blue. He stops her with a big grin, “You’re not here for ME, are you?”
He can barely the get the sentence out before she PLUNGES HIM IN THE FACE. Hahahahaha. Okay, I love this drama. How hilarious is it that they brought him back to give us that moment of satisfaction? It doesn’t even slow her down, and she just keeps on runnin’.
Upstairs in his tower, Chapunzel lives out another day, just staring at the wall. Dad comes in to try and snap him out of it. “Do you want a new car?” Pfft, oh Dad. You have so much to learn about life.
But Chi-soo shakes his head no, and then, familiar words – Eun-bi’s when they first met:
Chi-soo: No matter how much the world changes, there are things that should be protected. Someone said that even if we trade in our cars, we don’t trade in our loves. No matter how dispassionate the world becomes, love shouldn’t get that way. [hand over his heart] Dad, love happens here.
Eun-bi trips over her long dress as she runs up the stairs, and then as a line of security guards runs toward her, she realizes this is straight out of her dream. But no dream vision’s going to stop her now, and she tears her dress to make it a mini, and uses the hem and her shawl as weapons against the guards. Heh, gotta love a resourceful girl.
She storms into Daddy Cha’s office, asking if his terms still hold. He says yes, if she dates Chi-soo, he’ll get rid of the ramyun shop and kick Chi-soo out without a dime to his name.
Chi-soo walks in, startled to see her, “Yang Eun-bi!” I love it when he calls her by name. Swoon. She beams at the sight of him.
She nods at Daddy Cha with a steely face, and sticks out her righteous dragon-slaying sword, er, plunger, and declares that she will take Chi-soo’s broke ass and support him. Oh. My. God. I love her.
She runs up, grabs him by the wrist, and rescues her princess right outta the castle.
He stops her on the stairs, asking what she’s doing. If they go like this, Dad will take the shop, and then what will she do? Where will the boys live? Eun-bi: “What about you? Can you live without ramyun? Can you live without seeing me?”
He looks into her eyes, “No. I can’t do that.” She sighs in relief, to finally confirm his feelings. A tear falls. “I knew it was a dog dream” (meaning that it was full of crap).
And then, she gets up on her tippy toes to kiss him. He closes his eyes and kisses her right back.
Downstairs, Kang-hyuk looks on with a smile.
Back to the ramyun shop, where a sign on the door reads: “We’re ruined.” Aw. Kang-hyuk tells his staff that originally their recipe challenge was to be determined at a later date, but seeing as how they’re belly-up, they’re going to do it today.
Hyun-woo presents his dish first: Ba-wool-ie Ramyun. He describes it as a large dish, because Ba-wool gets hungry really often, so it needs to be super filling. He starts to sniffle as he adds, “And then you have to put rice in it, at the end.”
Kang-hyuk says it sounds very filling, which is also a turn of phrase that means dependable, or supportive. He turns to Ba-wool next, calling him “Runaway Boy,” and then we see that Ba-wool is more teary-eyed than Hyun-woo is. AW.
He describes his dish, Woo Hyun-woo Ramyun, as a steamed egg dish, because Hyun-woo’s teeth are weak, so you have to crush everything into little pieces for him to eat it. His voice breaks and the tears come.
Eun-bi is next. She opens up the silver pot in front of her, and it’s empty. “Cha Chi-soo can’t become ramyun. Accepting Cha Chi-soo exactly as he is. That’s my recipe.” That’s so cute.
Kang-hyuk calls on “Brother Boy” next. Chi-soo says he doesn’t have one either, and turns to Eun-bi. “Yang Eun-bi is, as Yang Eun-bi, the only ramyun in my life.” Omg, that’s EVEN CUTER. Gah.
He squeezes her hand, and they stare into each other’s eyes. The rest of the boys watch them with fake smiles plastered on their faces, until finally Ba-wool busts out angrily, “The store is ruined, and you guys are busy with your romance?!” Hahaha.
They’re interrupted by Dad’s secretary, who comes to give Chi-soo… his draft notice for the army. Chi-soo gapes, “Why?” Secretary says that as his legal guardian, Dad has the right to forfeit his American citizenship. So off to basic training you go. He salutes, “See you in two years.” Hee. He’s totally enjoying it.
(Obviously, the age gap necessitates a time jump in dramas like this. And army is my favorite of the choices, since it’s actually something you need to do, not like a sudden need to go learn how to make coffee abroad or whatever. Just sayin’.)
Chi-soo screams, “Nooooo!” and then Eun-bi comes out behind him, screaming even louder, staring up at the heavens, “Noooooo! Army? ARMY!? You’re asking me to do that all over again?!” Hahaha. Poor girl. Always waitin’ for loverboy to get out of the army.
Ba-wool and Hyun-woo lie awake that night, wondering where they’ll go. Ba-wool figures he’ll go home, and Hyun-woo says he’ll apply for the dorms. Ba-wool guesses that they won’t have cause to see each other anymore, but Hyun-woo’s comfortable enough to cut through Ba-wool’s crap now, and just gets all upset that he forgot to give him his Christmas scarf. He says he’ll give it to him in the morning, and Ba-wool sighs, heartbroken about having to leave.
Eun-bi looks out over the roof, hand to her heart, and then sees Kang-yuk heading out, bags packed. He stops in front of the shop, memories of his time here flooding back, and turns to go.
Eun-bi stops him, asking how he can just go like this, without a word. Kang-hyuk: “Because a hero leaves without saying a word.” She tries to say how she feels but she can’t get any words out, so he just hugs her and pats her on the back.
Kang-hyuk: “I know, Wife. It’s okay, Wife. And… thank you, Wife. Because I’ve liked, because I’ve boiled, that’s enough. I have a memory now that I can always take out and look at.”
But then he goes on… and on… about how he’s sure he’ll get over her someday, and how he’ll just have to heal his wounds with booze and women, all while growing old and bitter and alone and cursing her name. Hahaha. So funny when he’s petty.
He pets her on the head so adorably, and then turns to go. She calls out after him to ask where he’s going. He stops and doesn’t turn back, because his eyes are filled with tears. He says, “To cook ramyun,” and walks away.
She watches him go, and tearfully says to herself, “Goodbye, Pillar.”
She comes inside to find Chi-soo sleeping underneath the tree, which kind of kills me for some reason, like he just wants to be near it physically, because it gives him emotional comfort. She covers him with her jacket, wondering aloud how he can sleep.
But he’s awake, and without opening his eyes, he asks if she sent Onion off, and if she hugged him. She says yes. Chi-soo: “From now on, you can’t do that anymore. Onion isn’t your husband anymore. Because now he’s my hyung.” Aw, yay.
He asks if she’s going to visit him when he goes to the army. She sighs that yes, she’ll visit. Chi-soo: “Every day?” Eun-bi tells him that’s ridiculous, besides, it’s not like he can come out to meet visitors every day, and overnight leaves are given sparingly.
He gets up with a start. “Over…night? How do you know about that?” She looks in the other direction, trying to deflect, but he’s not letting it go. Did she visit overnight with Water Balloon? She turns her back, and he pokes and prods her, finally devolving into a tickle fight that knocks over the Christmas tree.
Ba-wool and Hyun-woo come out to find them love wrestling, and yell at them like parents to two teenage kids.
Time passes. Chi-soo’s flower boy posse is in the army, and they gripe about how Chi-soo got himself stationed elsewhere because he got to keep longer hair and the uniforms were prettier. Pffft. I’m glad to hear some things don’t change.
Kang-hyuk narrates that there are all different kinds of ramyun in this world. “Ramyun that’s bland because you can’t control the water.” Dong-joo and Coach out on a date on Christmas Eve, bickering over the little things.
So-yi is out on a date with I’m sure another “oppa she knows,” and they get a singing Santa telegram… played by Ba-wool Santa and Hyun-woo Reindeer. Omg. They are so cute.
Ba-wool realizes it’s So-yi and pulls down his Santa beard to yell up a storm about how he told her to wait till he got off of work. But she is still the same So-yi, and says that it all worked out ’cause look, she got to see him anyway! Keh. Kang-hyuk: “Ramyun that’s too salty because the fire burns too hot.”
Daddy Cha asks his secretary if he took care of the assets to be given over to Chi-soo, (Aw, I always knew you were a big ol’ softy, Dad) and then tells him to go home. The secretary looks back at the lonely President Cha with a sigh. Kang-hyuk: “Ramyun that’s been cooked so long ago that it’s bloated.”
Hyun-woo sits on the toilet in a public restroom, cursing Ba-wool’s name for ruining yet another part-time job for them. And then suddenly a woman comes storming into his stall, leaning in close. Ha, does he get his own reversal of the Eun-bi/Chi-soo meeting? Kang-hyuk: “Ramyun that’s not cooked yet, because it’s just begun.”
Eun-bi’s back to studying for the civil service exam, becoming extra cranky at a pair of neighboring students who are busy gushing over their love on Christmas eve. She goes to a convenience store to eat instant ramyun, as Kang-hyuk continues in voiceover: “And instant cup ramyun, that you eat by yourself.”
But as she’s eating, she gets a text from someone and darts out, running up to a bridge and searching through the crowd. There, standing on the other side, is Chi-soo, sporting jet-black hair. He greets her asking how his Eebeunie is doing.
Kang-hyuk: “What’s important is not which ramyun you eat. When you eat ramyun, the most important thing is timing.” Back to Dong-joo and Coach, who smooth over their bickering with a kiss.
Ba-wool storms back in the restaurant to pull So-yi up for a big dramatic kiss from Santa. Daddy Cha has a glass of wine with his secretary, not alone on Christmas after all. Kang-hyuk: “If in this moment, your heart is boiling over for someone, then right now is the best moment.”
Hyun-woo’s mystery woman calls him Reindeer Boy, and tells him that his eyes are pretty, leaning in for a kiss.
Eun-bi asks Chi-soo if he really went to the army after all, judging from his appearance, and he smirks that he’s Chwa – did she think he’d show up to see her in a ratty old soldier’s uniform?
She asks why he didn’t write back, why he didn’t call. Chi-soo: “Because if I heard your voice I’d want to see you. And if I saw you, I’d want to hold you. And if I held you…” He grins from ear to ear, “…I’d want to go AWOL.” RAWR.
Eun-bi: “Do you… call that an excuse, DOG CHI-SOO?!” HA. She storms over to him, all fired up.
But then as soon as they get close, they just melt at the sight of each other, and turn all gooey. Kang-hyuk continues in voiceover: “Other things don’t really matter. Ramyun just tastes best when it’s eaten at the moment it’s boiling over.”
Chi-soo takes her face in his hands, and they kiss, as the snow begins to fall.
Auuuuugh, I LOVE this show. It’s so great to watch something that’s satisfying from beginning to end, that carries thematic resonance through everything, and stays comedic with a healthy dose of heart to the last drop. I love rom-com endings like this one – neat enough that we get couples and resolutions, but open enough that it implies that life is life and some relationships might burn too fast or too hot or not hot enough, but if you get the timing just right it could boil over for a good long while, and grabbing love while you’ve got it is what matters.
I’m so much happier with an ending that’s got a more realistic bent to it, that doesn’t make everything easy for our couple. No magic answers (though the magical lack of army hair makes me laugh), and no swooping in to save the day with a deus ex machina which always takes the wind out of my sails. Nope, just people continuing to live, choosing new paths and protecting what’s important to them.
It breaks my heart a little that the ramyun shop couldn’t live on forever with their little makeshift family, but then, it’s not the kind of life you want for Eun-bi or Chi-soo forever – they can’t be ramyun proprietors for the rest of their lives. That one last look at the empty ramyun shop gives us that perfect bittersweet tinge, like it was just the place and the time that they all needed to set them on their courses. And in that, the ramyun shop served its purpose just as Eun-bi’s dad had wanted – to provide her a home to come back to. But now it’s just not a physical one – it’s Chi-soo, and the shop is what turned him into the man (and human being) who could be that for her.
What I really love about the finale is that it’s more about Eun-bi’s growth as a woman than it is about Chi-soo. He actually made his big strides in the last episode, choosing for the first time to think of others before himself, and to sacrifice what HE wanted for the greater good. But the finale is about Silver Pot Eun-bi, finding her fire, her spike, and owning who she is, deep down. I love that she gets to be the prince charming who rescues the princess in the tower. THIS is what I wanted from Best Love and didn’t quite get, and why this drama totally rules. Because that reversal KICKS ASS.
She’s no damsel in distress, and she’s never been one – she just didn’t know how to be the hero. And the heart-tugging part is that Kang-hyuk helps her realize it, and physically arms her with the things she needs, like her running shoes, so she can go get her princess. Eun-bi has to be the one who realizes that Hwanung is not untouchable – you just have to be willing to reach the heavens to pull him down to Earth. It’s also a great way to bring home the age difference too, because in this case, Chi-soo really does need her to make that leap and rescue him, not just as a clever gender reversal of the fairy tale. I love that she storms in there and her declaration means that she will take responsibility for her man. So cool.
It’s always really satisfying too when the metaphors all series long get turned into the big climactic eureka moments for Eun-bi – like when her constant battle with constipation turns into a literal stoppage in the toilet, and trying to unclog it is what makes her realize that she’s got her heart all clogged up so that nothing of her real self comes through. Armed with the Plunger of Uncloggyness, she storms the castle to claim her love, which makes me laugh and clutch my heart and pump my fist in the air, all at once.
And that? Is why I watch dramas.
Aw, what a satisfying ending. Sometimes a finale will disappoint me enough to downgrade my opinion on the entire drama, but most of the time it confirms how I’ve felt all along. In a few rare cases, though, a finale impresses me and improves my opinion, and for me Flower Boy Ramyun Shop falls into that category (along with the recently ended Vampire Prosecutor).
I love the reversal of the fairy tale nightmare, which I wasn’t expecting to make a reappearance but which came back with surprising added meaning, which was hilarious to boot. I love that the dream represented something real, but that its re-enactment in real life wasn’t a call to let Fate take over and play out the way the dream dictated. Not when Eun-bi had sneakers on her feet and a prince to retrieve. And I love her declaration to Daddy Cha, using the words most often uttered by men when claiming a woman away from her family in marriage: “I’ll take him and live with him now.”
I also love that the endgame wasn’t the ramyun shop after all, because you know, in real life you can move and rebuild or find a new shop. It was framed as the endgame in Chi-soo’s mind because that’s the extent of power he held — to leave, and save the ramyun family — but when the others realized the full situation, they were able to roll with it. And as we saw in the epilogue, some things don’t change all that much anyway. A bromance, once nurtured by mutual ramyun-sharing, is not so easily broken.
Last of all, I love the message we go out on, when I wasn’t even expecting one at all: That ramyun is best eaten right away. When your heart bubbles, you honor that bubbling and you act on it — don’t overthink, don’t be a noble idiot, just do what you can when you can. It’s a lovely, realistic way to look at a romance that’s the furthest thing from realistic on paper.
But it makes sense to me, perhaps because I’ve never seen Chi-soo and Eun-bi as the kind of One and Only that defines a lifelong love; it didn’t seem like that kind of story. The drama means a lot more to me with this conclusion — that they get their happy ending, not because they were Meant To Be or anything so dramatic as that, but because they followed their hearts. Honor the bubble.
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 15
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 14
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 13
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 12
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 11
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 10
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 9
- Gong Hyo-jin cameos in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 8
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 7
- Jung Il-woo sings a track for Ramyun Shop OST
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 6
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 5
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 4
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 3
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop scores high ratings
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 2
- Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Episode 1