Drama Recaps
Thousand Day Promise: Episode 20 (Final)
by | December 20, 2011 | 106 Comments


I’m pretty sure this finale broke me. I mean, I knew going in what kind of show it was, but there’s a difference between having the detached knowledge that you’ll cry and actually sobbing out a river of tears.

The show bowed out at a series high (19.8%) after flagging a bit in recent weeks — most likely because people were eager to find out the answer to the big question: Did she die? Would a miracle save the day? Sad ending, or happy?


Shin Seung-hoon – “처음 하는 말처럼” (Like Saying it for the First Time) from the drama’s soundtrack. [ Download ]

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Seo-yeon’s illness has progressed to the point where she’s like a toddler you can’t let out of your sight, as Aunt learns when she goes grocery shopping, turns her back for a second, and finds Seo-yeon gone. She runs through the store looking for her, then heads outside, panicking. Aunt calls her husband and Myung-hee, who both drop what they’re doing to join the search.

It’s Myung-hee who spots Seo-yeon just as she’s about to board a bus. When asked where she’s going, Seo-yeon says, like a child, “Home.”

Myung-hee first scolds, but gets no response out of Seo-yeon. She softens her tone and asks, like a teacher asking an errant preschooler, what she was intending to do.

Seo-yeon remains expressionless all the way home, sitting by like she isn’t hearing a word, except that she is — when Myung-hee grips about buying handcuffs, or a rope to tie her with, Seo-yeon suddenly hits her in the back, angry. She glares and shoves Myung-hee, then storms off to her room. Aunt chides Myung-hee since they both know Seo-yeon hates being treated like a helpless idiot.

Aunt finds Seo-yeon looking at her reflection in the mirror, lucid again, speaking in her normal voice. She asks, “Aunt…who is she?” Aunt’s heart breaks as she realizes Seo-yeon means the mirror, and she barely holds it together to explain that Seo-yeon’s seeing herself, reflected in the glass.

Ji-hyung narrates to us that Seo-yeon’s condition is worsening so rapidly that even her doctor is startled. Sometimes she sleeps all day, some days she stares at the same page for hours. We see slices of what it’s like living on edge, with every little thing capable of setting off Seo-yeon’s temper.

It’s like she still has the emotions of an adult, but the expressive capabilities of a young child. The dichotomy is ever-present — she’ll do something strange, like trying to drink soup with chopsticks, or trying to wear a sweater as pants. But the moment she’s corrected, there’s a flash of lucidity as she realizes this is more evidence of her deterioration, and the only way for her to react is to lash out — by throwing something, or hitting something. Ji-hyung describes it as an explosion of anger from deep within, from the person who still remembers that she’s Seo-yeon.

Aunt has noticed that she gets worse when Ji-hyung isn’t around, which means that pretty soon he’ll have to stop going into the office and work from home.

He picks up Ye-eun from his mother’s house, where the three ladies — Mom, Aunt, Hyang-gi — are doting on her. Ji-hyung’s uncomfortable around Hyang-gi and keeps a stiff distance. She, on the other hand, is quite at ease with the baby and assures him that there’s no need for him to feel awkward, because she’s met someone she wants to date. He visibly relaxes.

As they’re heading out, though, Hyang-gi’s parents pull up in their car and immediately size up the situation. Mom throws a fit — and we’d expect no less — about her moronic daughter lying so she can sneak over here and dote on her ex’s child. Hyang-gi begs Mom to listen, that both Ji-hyung’s mother and he have discouraged her, but that she comes because she wants to see the baby.

Hyang-gi’s father steps up to take a calmer approach, asking for his cooperation regarding Hyang-gi. Ji-hyung assures them that neither of them are doing anything to cause concern, and they grudgingly agree to trust him on that.

At home, Seo-yeon becomes lucid in the middle of watering houseplants, which she’s done clumsily, resulting in a living room puddle. She grabs a rag and starts to sop it up, apologizing to Aunt.

She says it feels like Ji-hyung has run away, and Aunt assures her that he’s just at work, and due home any minute. Can’t she remember? Seo-yeon says, “I can’t remember.” Then, brightening, “No, I do remember.” Then, deflating, “No, I don’t remember.”

She can’t remember Jae-min oppa coming by yesterday, either, and asks Aunt, “I’ve become really dumb, haven’t I?” She confides that there are times she feels absent, or not herself.

Ji-hyung comes home, and Seo-yeon greets her baby with a friendly but detached “Hi.” While she rests, he talks with Aunt, who confesses the events of the day in a scared voice — how Seo-yeon disappeared in the supermarket, how she was about to board a bus, how this is new behavior for her. But worse is the bit about not recognizing herself in the mirror. Aunt sobs and asks why this is happening so fast.

That evening, he gently reminds Seo-yeon that she can’t go out alone. It’s difficult to watch him trying to prevent future troubles, because lucid Seo-yeon understands all the words he’s saying, and knows she’s not supposed to leave the house by herself. He even wrote her a reminder note on the door, reading, “I don’t know my number. I can’t leave the house.” She says that Aunt always tries to cover the note when they go so she won’t feel bad, which is sweet.

He asks, “You love me, don’t you?” She asks, “Does it not seem like I do? Does it seem I’ve forgotten I love you?” He answers, “No. I just wanted to confirm it.”

Seo-yeon: “Even if I forget other things, I won’t forget that. Don’t worry. Park Ji-hyung, my husband. Ye-eun’s father. The person who loves me terribly, the man carrying a cross up a mountain.”

He entreats her not to give up, because it seems like she has decided to let the inevitable happen. She says that she has, that she’s tired. It’s exhausting trying to hold on to herself when she just loses hold in the end anyway. Refusing to give up doesn’t mean the outcome will change.

He begs her to try, because every day is precious. She starts to cry, saying, “I want to, but I can’t do it. Even if I clench my fist, I slip out between my fingers.” They sob to each other, “Sorry,” over and over.

Aunt chatters on the phone with a friend, and asks if she wouldn’t be interested in dementia insurance — you never know. She perks up at the answer — her friend will? Six people? It’s hilarious how she gets right on the phone with Jae-min to tell him to send out an insurance rep from his company.

She freaks out to see Ye-eun missing from her chair, and sighs in relief when she sees Moon-kwon has her. She chides, saying she thought some baby-thief had come by, and he jokes at the ridiculousness of that.

But in the next room, Ji-hyung deals with a different sort of thief — the imaginary kind, who Seo-yeon is convinced is stealing her clothing, one by one. She won’t budge from guarding her wardrobe, insisting that if she leaves, her clothes will get stolen. She whispers, “That ajumma outside will give them to her daughter.” Oof. Ji-hyung raises his voice, upset that she could say that about her own aunt.

He holds her face in his hands, leans in, and tells her firmly that she’s Lee Seo-yeon. He repeats facts to her and she cries, “I’m Lee Seo-yeon — who says otherwise?”

He barely manages to convince her to go out with him on a drive, and calls Jae-min to act as driver. She doesn’t recognize the road that should be familiar, but puts a positive face on and asks for kisses.

The drive takes them to the old resort they used to meet at, where the three now lunch together. She’s cheery, until she asks how Ji-hyung knows this place and he answers that they came here a lot in the past. She tries to act like that doesn’t matter, forcing a smile.

After lunch, Seo-yeon walks alone while oppa and Ji-hyung walk along behind her. Ji-hyung tells him about Seo-yeon briefly not knowing Aunt, and Jae-min says there have been a couple time where he’d wondered if she didn’t know him, either. Ji-hyung feels like it’s not far off before she’ll forget him, too.

Seo-yeon waves Ji-hyung over with an excited smile, and he comes jogging up to her. She declares, “I just had the thought. I want to die when the cherry blossoms fall. When the flower petals fall like snow, it’s sad and beautiful.”

Ji-hyung changes the subject, not showing a reaction, and she comes away with him giggling, like she hasn’t just punched us all in the gut.

That evening, Ji-hyung hears Moon-kwon and Aunt’s horrified shouts, and comes out to see Seo-yeon holding scissors over the baby. She looks up at them wide-eyed, wondering why they’re so fussed — she just wants to give the baby a haircut. It looks ugly: “Like a dummy.”

Ji-hyung agrees that they’ll redo the baby’s hair tomorrow, but at the salon. To everyone’s relief, Seo-yeon accepts that answer and hands over the scissors. Maybe she has a burst of lucidity, because she barks at Moon-kwon for yelling, then refuses Ji-hyung’s attention as Aunt packs away all the kitchen utensils.

But this calls for more serious changes, and Ji-hyung’s mother sits with Seo-yeon to explain that she and (Ji-hyung’s) Aunt will take care of the baby. Seo-yeon is welcome to come by whenever she wants to see Ye-eun, or they’ll bring her over. Seo-yeon sits quietly, head bowed, saying she understands they’re afraid that she’ll make bigger mistakes.

Moon-kwon sobs his goodbye to the baby, promising to tell her lots of stories about her mother in the future. Gah, why is it that Moon-kwon brings tears to my eyes the fastest? It’s teariest for him, but I think saddest for Ji-hyung, who has to give up raising his own child, for the benefit of both mother and daughter.

When it’s time for Ye-eun to go, Ji-hyung calls Seo-yeon over, and she pats the baby’s cheek. She says, “Bye, take care.”

Ji-hyung sends his mother off, then comes back inside to Seo-yeon sitting there. She hadn’t watched the child go, and he notes that this was the first time Seo-yeon had touched the baby, or said a word to her. Seo-yeon smiles up at him; he says, “My wife smiles, but for what reason, or with what meaning, I don’t know.”

Time passes, and Seo-yeon gets worse.

At the dinner table, Seo-yeon looks up at Aunt and Uncle sitting across from her and asks, “Ajusshi, who are you and why are you at our dinner table?” Uncle looks stricken, but Aunt takes this in stride and explains everyone’s relationships clearly: I’m Aunt, this is my husband, your uncle, the father to Jae-min and Myung-hee.

Ji-hyung catches her talking into the mirror, asking the girl inside to come out: “Come out. I have no friends. Come out.”

And then she pushes away from Ji-hyung and asks “ajumoni” (Aunt) to get rid of the strange man in her room. Told it’s her husband, she asks, “Am I married?” Seo-yeon takes this in, and then turns to Ji-hyung, suddenly back to normal: “Aren’t you going to the office?”

Then while watching TV, she asks why there are so many people in their house.

Finally, Seo-yeon goes on a rampage, tearing down all the reminder notes in the house, screaming, “Burn it all!”

Ji-hyung narrates that now, Seo-yeon is not herself for large stretches of time, lost in her head.

When Myung-hee brings her a nice new sweater, Seo-yeon slaps her and calls her a mean, bad girl. Who knew I could feel so sorry for Myung-hee — especially when she chokes back tears and says, “I was wrong, I know that. Forgive me.”

More silent heartbreak when Seo-yeon asks who the other ajusshi is, and Jae-min cheerily identifies himself as her cousin. Now all men have become mere ajusshis, and all women are ajummas. Even Ji-hyung has become an ajusshi to her, although she understands that he’s her caretaker. The only person left in her memory is Moon-kwon.

And then, another panicked phone call. Seo-yeon has disappeared, from home this time. Unlike last time, she didn’t just wander off accidentally; she must have known the code all along and used it to get out.

The family tears through the neighborhood looking for her, while Seo-yeon stands at a clanging railroad intersection, the arm down as a train approaches. Oh god, drama, you’re not going to go Anna Karenina on us, are you? I swear, if you do…

She steps forward toward the speeding train. Alarmed strangers hold her back, and the family picks her up at the police station.

She gets more violent in the coming days, and tries to attack Aunt in the house. She injures her arm in some unnamed accident.

Ye-eun has grown into a toddler by now. Ji-hyung’s parents think it’s time for him to turn Seo-yeon over to health professionals, but he refuses, saying he’d promised to care for her till the end. They back down, not having expecting him to agree.

It’s also time for Seo-yeon to start wearing diapers, as Aunt hesitantly suggests to Ji-hyung, citing a few close calls. He brings it up, and recognizing the diaper seems to bring Seo-yeon back for a moment, even if it’s through rage. She screams that she’s not a baby, that Lee Seo-yeon has no need for these things.

But that night, Ji-hyung wakes up in bed alone, and when he bolts out to look for her, he finds Seo-yeon fumbling with the diaper, trying to put it on over her pajamas. He breaks down and holds her, telling her she doesn’t have to do it. And she just stares blankly as he sobs.

The picture freezes on that expressionless face and greys out. Fade to white…

And then we open at a gravesite.

Ye-eun’s walking and talking now, perhaps 5 or 6, and comes with Dad to set flowers at Seo-yeon’s headstone.

Ji-hyung kneels to tell Seo-yeon that they’re here, and says chokingly, “I’m still…” As in, I’m not healed yet. I still love you. I’m still with you.


Well, on the upside, it’s over.

I’ll be honest: I did not enjoy this ending. Or this show, for much of its latter half. I won’t go as far as to say I regret watching the show, because there were lovely moments in it, and watching Su Ae deliver a powerhouse performance was worth the pain. Maybe barely.

It’s not the death that bothers me, since that possibility was on the table since Day 1. It’s not the sadness of the premise, either, since clearly I knew what I was getting into. I’ve enjoyed melodramas in the past, and some tearjerkers are actually sort of refreshing to cry along to — not fun, necessarily, but there’s a sense of emotional payoff and gratification when you have a moving story.

What makes this drama a frustrating experience (aside from the cluttered writing) is that it follows a single line: Downward. No twists, no arc, no message. It’s a single-entendre show, and as eloquent as the dialogue could be, as wonderful the acting, as warm and inviting the characters like Jae-min and Moon-kwon, it was designed to show you a depressing story, for no purpose other than that it could.

I had hopes that this show could explore something interesting with its premise, like maybe memory or identity or the value of living on a ticking clock. Like Scent of a Woman, or 90 Days Time To Love, or The Letter. What would we take away from the story of a woman given an unfair, heartbreaking Alzheimer’s diagnosis just when she should be starting her life, family, and career?

And sadly, I don’t think there’s much I get out of this show other than some great acting. It wasn’t just a downer, it was a downer that deliberately withheld hope or any sort of uplifting message. She got Alzheimer’s, she gave up, then she died. The end. That sort of pisses me off.


I don’t mind a dark story, so I’m okay with the trajectory of this show being downward, since that’s kind of inevitable given the premise. What I do think was wasted in the finale was the chance to leave Seo-yeon’s mark on the world with her writing, or give her one, JUST ONE meaningful connection with her daughter. Really just one would’ve gotten me in the heart and done the job.

This is the one episode where I didn’t cry, which is really odd, and also kind of deflating, since I bought the jumbo pack of tissues and all. But maybe it’s because by the finale Seo-yeon has already checked out, so I have no connection, just lots of pity. When the show managed to hit those family connections, it was amazing, but it wasted some big opportunities for that in the final episode, which is really a strange choice, given that it’s what I felt was the whole point of the series. Perhaps the only such moment for me in the finale was the one line from Ji-hyung, noting that everyone had faded in her memory except for her brother Moon-kwon. Portrayed in a dramatic way by Seo-yeon herself would’ve really killed me, and satisfied some of my need for that heart-tugging connection.

The ellipsis to her already being dead is the same – I’m here knowing that death is how it ends, so why rob me of that heart-wrenching moment, and my chance to be with Ji-hyung, or Moon-kwon, or Aunt when she’s gone? I really, really did not expect that my bone to pick with this drama would be that it was not melodramatic enough in the end. I mean, what? I didn’t need for her to live, or to magically be cured of Alzheimer’s. But I wanted her to have her final moments with the ones who have faithfully loved her and stood by her side. I don’t care if it’s movie magic to give someone a final moment of lucidity before death. Give it to me anyway. It’s what dramas are for.

All that about the final episode aside though, I did really like the show as it was going, and loved its portrayal of a prickly heroine and the amazing people who love her. I just wish we got the emotional payoff for being as faithful to the show as they were to her, because I feel (to borrow a metaphor from Flower Boy Ramyun Shop)… emotionally constipated. I’m proud of Ji-hyung’s stalwart love, and her family’s too – I just wished I got taken along for that final lap, ’cause I was all ready and willing to go.


106 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Mon

    Thanks for the recap!

  2. appreciate

    thank you:)

  3. KNG

    im still crying!!!

    • 3.1 MAY

      Same. I read this marathon style from ep 1-20 and I haven’t stopped crying the whole time. I loved the drama itself though!

  4. cv

    Thanks for recap ladies!

    yeah, this final episode was a downer for sure…. seems soo like they jumped time too fast. Oh well..

  5. zeyy

    i havent watched the episode and iv only read the recaps for the last 4 recaps but that was enough to make me love it! ill be watching this drama once my exams finish!

  6. nuri

    Wow! That’s super fast. Thank you.

    I think this drama comes in the right moment for me. When I really want to see something sad, not half sad like scent of a woman, and it delivers. Besides, there’s BaWool to keep me smiling.

    I think it might swept all acting awards.

    So, thanks again for bringing such beautifully written recap.

  7. kit

    oh ;_________;

    this drama was so beautifully heartbreaking, but since there’s no message there – as you guys have said – all it does is depress the watcher too. and a sense of fear, i guess, that it can happen to anyone. i’m confused why nothing came out of her writing – watching the family even just read it on her computer later, lucid, beautiful seoyeon.

    props to all the actors though wow.

    thank you for the recaps!

  8. Sunmi

    I’m sorry but this drama blows…blowed, whatever.

    The only redeeming thing about it was the acting from everyone, Su Ae especially. My God, Su Ae, way to knock a girl in the gut till she’s out and then step on me while I’m down. I half want to scream at her for delivering her character too well. Wtf, why you go make me cry like a blubbering idiot for almost 20 hours of my life?

    Honestly, this show could’ve gone someone; could’ve done something with the meaningful premise it was based on. I also agree that the writers should’ve written something into the story for Seo-Yeon to leave behind. Some underlying theme besides: crap things happen to good people…and then they die. Seo-yeon was a writer and from the looks of it a bloody decent one too! Wasn’t she working on some journal memoir sort of thing? Couldn’t the final scene have been Ji-Hyung giving his daughter the memory of her mother through the book? I mean, they could’ve gone somewhere with Seo-Yeon’s fear of losing herself and leaving nothing behind; they could’ve tied this fear into her writing. The ending was so contrived and unnecessarily morose and pessimistic and all kinds of uncoolness.

    I knew she was going to die!! Everyone freaking knew she was going to die so then give her death meaning!! Give her death some meaning if not for the dead then for the living who go on mourning her. Ye-eun probably has no recollection of a mother that never even recognized her; how is this little girl going to learn how brave, strong (stubborn and prickly) and talented her mom was? She ain’t going to be able to watch a drama to find out that’s for sure.

    All I say is: WTF? Give me my 1*10^10 billion tears back. This ain’t even cool anymore.

    Aish, I rant. My apologies. I’m just so terribly heartbreakingly disappointed. I wasn’t expecting a miracle; just some meaning.

    • 8.1 Gg

      Exactly. I read the recap first and I’m pretty sure I’m not even gonna watch the final episode. Just like javabeans said, the story was just about a woman getting sick and dying. That’s all. No underlying message or meaning whatsoever. I feel like I’ve been taken for a ride and I don’t wanna waste any more tears watching the writer take the easy way out in the finale by wrapping up the story the way everyone thought it would wrap up.

      Really disappointed by the ending… The story itself had so much potential to be much better, but many things were just wasted. Somehow it feels like the writer got tired of writing such a depressing story herself and just decided not to spend anymore effort on it and just took the easy solution out. I thought the birth of Seoyeon’s daughter could maybe be an encouragement to her in her times of sickness, maybe even bring about a miracle (this IS a drama after all, and miraculous things are supposed to be able to happen). But nope, it remained a depressing story all the way till the end.

      • 8.1.1 titi

        I read a better storytelling about Alzheimer on a fanfic. A fanfic. And it has better ending. *Still bitter on how this drama could be.

  9. sangay

    i suppose you know a lot of people are waiting for this last episode and you’ve got it out super fast. thank you !

    thanks for the whole series of recaps.

    this drama … i wished the ending is slightly different. i so wish seo yeon left her legacy behind, not in her daughter, but a book of her own.

    wished i could have seen the last moment of her life … the love that surrounds her as she said her last goodbye 😐

  10. 10 Kirita

    The pic is killing me !…. Ji-hyung is sobbing meanwhile Seo-yeon staring blankely ….
    This couple is connect me through their “unconnected” ways….

  11. 11 lalalala

    Shoot, I shed tears at work but thankfully, no one around my desk. Sigh.

    Thanks for the recap 🙂

  12. 12 Fabmari

    The sweet HiangGi should oppa…

  13. 13 via

    I thought this story is about a woman having Alzhemeier disease and a man who loves her no matter what, well from what I see that’s just about it. The rest is just a supporting character and supporting atmosphere for the main lead and the story itself. So I have no regrets, this is what I have expecting from this drama. I cry as I read this recap, thanks JB and GF for recaping the drama.

  14. 14 Ema

    thanks for the recaps..

    i have to agree i dont like this episode at all…most of all i hated how despite her illness she still has a lot to fight for(kid and husband) yet she absolutely gave up…and so made it way way harder for the ones who cared for her….that really pissed me off..

  15. 15 cher

    It’s so sad. It showed the reality of what dementia can do to a person. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are so tragic because they change the person in ways like stealing the soul.
    I did not expect any other ending for this drama because it showed what reality is, but it also showed how loving the person is what matters the most.

    • 15.1 Kirita

      I could’t agree with you more !!….

      That’s the reality of Alzheimer’s…. it steals mind, body and soul …. She cann’t even feel and express the “love” around ppl who gives her …much…much… love ….

  16. 16 Ida

    The “emotionally constipated” idea clearly describes my feelings today. I haven’t been a dedicated watcher of the drama as much as I have been a dedicated reader of the recaps, but I don’t know—at the end, I just felt, I just sighed.

    It was like I was waiting to feel a lot of emotions, but instead a cold wind just swiveled through and left. I didn’t cry and when I didn’t I looked at myself and thought I was heartless because everyone else was on the verge of tears. Like everyone said, it was sad. Very sad and real. But I couldn’t feel it in my bones. It happened, but it didn’t live.

    Whenever I think about the drama now, I just can’t understand my feelings. Even as I think about it I so expect to have some kind of solid opinion or some kind of throbbing emotion, but its just immobile. Which is what makes me sad.

    I agree though the acting was supreme. Especially Soo Ae. If I have one opinion about this drama its this: it literally physically took a lot of energy out of me. Just watching it took energy out of me. — So in regard of that I can’t imagine what kind of emotions and physical state the actress who played this character is feeling. It is very physically draining.

  17. 17 Cynthia

    Excuse me while I mop up the flood of tears pouring down my face.

    My conclusions from watching TDP are:

    Kim Soo-hyun had better win some big writing awards – her writing breathes life into complex/conflicted characters. She’s not afraid to tackle difficult subjects and doesn’t insult
    the viewer with any fanservice endings. She is ethical, sensitive and just plain brave.
    I was concerned that a slip-up would come during her break to pen those 3 eps for CSTV – but her writing became even stronger. Hats off to her – a sweet and talented wordmaster.

    Su Ae – she was made for this role. Period. And frankly, I hope that this drama finally proves to those critical of her acting skills that she is an A-list actress, and nothing but A-list.
    Years ago, I could see her obvious talent the minute she appeared on screen in EotS and never doubted it for
    a nano-second, no matter what project she was saddled with. With TDP, there’s no question – Su Ae has finally, and firmly, earned her place in the top echelon of Korea’s finest actresses.

    The remainder of the cast did a great job – Kim Rae won as usual does really well with this type of character.
    In particular, Park Yoo-hwan was exceptionally good – he won’t have trouble getting future acting gigs.

    As for TDP itself, I appreciated the clever crafting of such a grave subject. Dividing the story into two viewpoints was beyond effective. The victim of the disease and her reactions to that death sentence for the first half, and then showing the impact of caring for her from her caregivers/support system, and particularly, Kim Rae-won’s heroic turn for the second half. This is where Kim Soo-hyun SHINED – she didn’t pull one punch and fully realized on the page exactly how devastating this disease is.
    She’s thrown open a window on what is the reality and finality of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

    Thanks for the fast recapping – it was appreciated! 🙂

    • 17.1 alexe

      I totally agree with your comments .

  18. 18 crazedlu

    aw man. totally agree with the both of you. i wanted more for her and her daughter and her and moon kwon. seriously, this is what dramas and stories are FOR. to let us have that one moment of hope to find peace, even though in reality, sometimes those moments never come. i, too, felt myself wishing for more melodrama… and i am not about the melo at all.

    powerful performances, but i would’ve taken it in a slightly different direction.

  19. 19 sequestial

    I guess one of the messages we could take from this is to never overlook what we ourselves have, because there are so many people with lives more unfortunate than ours, so much so that our problems are kind of trifling and insignificant in comparison.

    This is seriously one of the more… almost the most depressing kdramas I’ve seen in a while. But even amidst the downward spiral and the general morbidity of the last 10 mins of this episode, I still find it a hell of a lot more meaningful than some other dramas like Winter Sonata or Stairway to Heaven. Seriously. It’s realistic, it’s like a slice-of-life (almost, sort of), and it’s more like they’re trying to say, ‘This is life, and this is what happens to people. You can take it or leave it, you can ignore it, you can try to find more cheerful stuff, but things like this will still happen.’

  20. 20 Jomo

    “Well, on the upside, it’s over.”

    This is the best microreview of anything.

    (Although I still think: Hot guys, cold plot. was amazing, too.)

    I said before I may watch it, but I think not.

    Thank you both for your time and careful analysis of all of this pain, love and lighter moments.

    I hope this means we get to see all of the above in a light-hearted romp next. I think little brother has earned a romcom lead after this. Don’t you network?

  21. 21 mnstpdu08

    I completely, wholeheartedly agree with you guys (base on your recaps). There wasn’t any significance to her death. We learned who she was but we never learned what kind of impact she made in the world. Everyone, regardless of who they are or what they’ve done, make an impact, small or large, on the world/people. When someone leaves, people remember who they were and what kind of life they led. It was totally like she got sick, it got worse, then she died. There must have been something there that didn’t revolve around her health; I wished they had explored that.

  22. 22 L

    My grandma died from Alzheimer’s so it definitely brought back painful memories. There is no redemption and no matter how brilliant she was, she wouldn’t have been able to leave any legacy. Depressing, and not fulfilling storywise, but true…

  23. 23 Brenda

    I don’t really understand why or how she died. Dementia robs you of every cognitive thought…however it doesn’t kill you. So did she commit suicide or something?

    • 23.1 Cynthia

      In the final stages of this disease, the brain forgets to tell the body (lungs/respiration) to breath.

      I know a lot of commenters were disappointed at the ending – but seeing how on-point the writer was in regards to symptomatology, trust me, it was a relief to see the ending as it was.
      There is no happy moment of lucidity at the end surrounded by your loved ones. That only happens in dramaland – not in real life.

      • 23.1.1 ck1Oz

        Yes real life Azheimer’s is not pretty was surprised they even showed the diaper scene.

        Yes even moments of lucid behaviour is gone. The person as you know it’s as if they never was. It’s only your memories of who they were that keeps you coming back to them. It’s one of the saddest thing I’ve ever seen in my life for their families.

        • Cynthia

          Truthfully, I fully expected that diaper scene – Seo-yeon’s repetitive fear throughout the drama was losing control of her bowels. It seemed like she visualized that one thing as being the final break between herself and her sanity – it was rock-bottom for her and the final death-knell for any remaining dignity.

          So it didn’t surprise me upon watching that scene and then the freeze frame of her totally blank/empty expression. It was the end in more ways than one. And to really push home the point, the writer used adult diapers as props rather than adult pull-ups.

      • 23.1.2 via

        Thanks for the explanation @Cynthia.. it is really make things clear to what happen on Seo yeon because of the disease.. and why she had to die because of it..

      • 23.1.3 Ani

        I didn’t expect moments of lucidity or anything, I just feel that the ending was so abrupt. It is fine if they cut to the grave scene, but they should have included another 5 minutes, hell I will even accept 3 minutes, spent on showing her whole family. How they are living now? I wanted to know how they are surviving this and what small little things they do to keep the memory of Seoyeon alive, especially for the daughter that never got to know her. It would be nice that even when the illness that plagued Seoyeon was one that robbed her of her memory, that she lives in through memory her loved ones held of her.

        • jk

          I agree. While I very much agree with the ending because it was very much real, I was much vested in all other characters, and I really wanted to see more about how all of them were doing. Just a quick browse through everyone’s life, Moonkwon, Jaemin, the aunt, Hyangi and her family, Jihyung’s family and then ending on the grave scene would have been far more poignant and powerful.

  24. 24 ck1Oz

    Thank you very much. Would write more… but too upset already cried a river yesterday.

  25. 25 Mailinh

    I just want to say thank you for recapping this series! As depressing as it was, I always enjoyed “watching” it through your guys’ words. I’ve stopped watching subbed dramas and have become hooked reading your recaps.

  26. 26 asianromance

    thank you for recapping this, javabeans and girlfriday. I know that death was inevitable and that the entire series covered a good stretch of time, but I can’t help but feel like the ending was very sudden. Like javabeans said, “She got Alzheimer’s, she gave up, then she died. The end.” And like girlfriday, I was upset that this episode missed the chance to have Seo-yeon leave her mark on the world with her writing (i was hoping off-camera, after she had quit her job, she was working on a book or something that would be revealed in the final moments of the episode) or a meaningful scene with her daughter. I was hoping that she’d get to hold and feed the baby for a moment in this episode.

    I hope Kim Rae Won and Su Ae’s next dramas are happy ones.

  27. 27 olsen

    Thank you for the recap.

    Wow! at the end at the grave, I know it seems strange, but I thought that came too suddenly.
    It was weird, I don’t even know how to explain.

    Also, after finishing the recap, the finale reminded me of the finale of the O.C, which is like the worst finale EVER.

    It’s not as bad as the O.C’s finale, but a little something or surprise here and there would have been nice.

    It looks like the show tries to tell us that she deteriorates more and more, and then…she dies.
    As simple as that and that isn’t fulfilling for me.

    Reading the recaps make me think twice about watching the drama as I have tons of dramas lining up. But to miss the stellar performances of Su-Ae and Kim Rae Won makes me feel like I would lose out a lot.

  28. 28 k-soup

    Reading the recap is way better than watching it. it’s just too painful.. heartbreaking! (T T)

  29. 29 Ani

    Oooooooooooooooooooooookaaaaaaaaaay. That was quite an abrupt ending to me. I was expecting more and all we got was poof – nothing. I compared this once to 1 Liter of Tears/1 Litre no Namida, so I was expecting a really heartwarming ending. Maybe not “heartwarming” per se but an episode I could still connect with. I was expecting more. Just MORE. It feels unfinished and that in the last stretch of the Seoyeon’s journey we missed out on the important things. And even when she died, I was hoping to see more of how her family dealt with her death. This is where 1 Liter really drove it home, because we see the heroine lose hope, gain it back, and became an inspiration and hope for others. Even when she lost her mobility and sense of independence, even after she died, we got a good glimpse of the mark she left on Earth. Of course Seoyeon had a disease that robbed her of her identity, but I was really hoping that her diary would be her mark. That her daughter would be her triumph. But we don’t know any of this because we were denied the last 5 seconds of her race, and we were denied a preview of the next five seconds of her family’s lives after Seoyeon’s race.

    Yes, life actually is brutal and cruel like this, but like girlfriday said, this is a drama and it’s not fiction for nothing. As jb said, I need to take something away from this drama, and all I got was a lesson that sometimes bad things happen to good people and there’s no triumph or victory for them. There’s no rainbow or a pot o’ gold at the end of said rainbow. If that’s the case, than why bother? Is the lesson I’m supposed to learn is that Seoyeon gave up too easily and that maybe I should learn from that and strive to fight? Hey Show, guess what? All I know is that for a Show that made me cry heaps during your run, you sure fell flat for the finale.

    • 29.1 more


      This is Alzheimers what did u expect for her to continue fighting till the end NO! The illness is eating away at her. HOW can u say she gave up easily when she was fighting the entire time?

      And even if she did give up who could blame her?

      Try reading up on alzheimers and then put ur self in her shoes. then TELL ME HOW U WOULD REACT!

      u DAMN SHORE WOULD have been talking about giving up easily

      • 29.1.1 Ani

        You should read my comment at 23.1.3

        But for you, I’ll repost it.

        I didn’t expect moments of lucidity or anything, I just feel that the ending was so abrupt. It is fine if they cut to the grave scene, but they should have included another 5 minutes, hell I will even accept 3 minutes, spent on showing her whole family. How they are living now? I wanted to know how they are surviving this and what small little things they do to keep the memory of Seoyeon alive, especially for the daughter that never got to know her. It would be nice that even when the illness that plagued Seoyeon was one that robbed her of her memory, that she lives in through memory her loved ones held of her.

        My grandmother has dementia and slowly going into dementia. Trust me, I know enough.

        • Ani

          Er, I actually meant she has dementia and is slowly going into Alzheimers.

        • more

          Ok im sorry about ur grandmother hun. I was just saying that i can understand why she would give up

  30. 30 minhe

    thank you for awesome awesome recap 🙂

  31. 31 Hipployta

    At first I was expecting some kind of book published or videos to Ye-Eun…then as it went I realized it was one of those finales where they want you to acknowledge that this happens to people all the time and most of them leave only behind they people that loved them. I kind of felt worse during 1 Litre of Tears since she did leave behind evidence of her deterioration.
    I’m also not to happy about her illness being accelerated or never touching the baby either. At least they skipped the obligatory trip to America for treatment cliche. I can say all the acting was unbelievable and Su Ae better win something. Is it bad I want Yoochun to look at his Yoohwan’s skill and improve LOL.

    • 31.1 Ani

      Man, every freaking time Yoohwan cried I cried. It definitely has something to with his sibling love with his noona. But still man, he totally sold it as Moonkwon.

  32. 32 Noelle

    I agree with GF. There should of been some kind of connection with her daughter in the end like a letter or something. I would of been fine if they killed her a little earlier in this episode just so that we could of focused on those she left behind.

    • 32.1 Anduril

      snort! oh aptly put. I would have liked to see more as well. esp Is Moon-Kwan still living with them? And yet, I kinda like that stark ending, just the dad and daughter alone, at a grave. The visual set up of the daughter relegated to the background highlighted Ji-hyung being isolated in his lingering grief. To me that final picture made up for the agreed minimalism of melodrama at the end.

  33. 33 bishbash

    i don’t see the point of showing more instead of just cutting to the grave scene.

    is it important to always have a message in every drama? i think the whole point of TDP is how far can love go? Ji Hyung showed it with his love. His character evolved from a somewhat weakling to a person who sticks to his resolution down the tough road ahead.

    Seo Yeon is someone with very fierce pride, so it’s not surprising that she chose to give up in the end. There’s a line between guarding your pride and just giving up. Obviously the disease is beyond her control and when it reached the point where she CAN’T go on anymore. It’s not a choice and she knows it. It is frightening to have periods of self-awareness between lucid lapses because it’s like, multiple personality.

    To show that she left some legacy of sorts would be dramatic. I suppose in Writer Kim Soo Hyun’s scripts, reality takes first place. Anyone who’d watched her My Man’s Woman in 2007 should know it. it’s as close to real life as possible.

    It’s pessimistic, but life isn’t always happy. Happy periods are just randomly peppered in life.

    • 33.1 Cynthia

      Well said.

    • 33.2 more

      WELL SAID. She had not choice

  34. 34 Combray

    I’m glad she never forgot Moonkwon, because he was always there (well after he was born obv lol). It’s kind of fitting that way. Plus I don’t know what I would’ve done if there had been a scene with Moonkwon crying when he realizes she’d forgotten him. I make fun of Yoohwan’s crying face all the time, but the kid is talented.

    I agree that it was a downer, kind of like “Cinderella’s Sister,” although at least this one, people had actual reasons to be sad and cry all the time lol. Also it was a good thing they didn’t show how she died tbh, I did some googling and it wasn’t pretty. Patients in the very end typically forget how to eat, or breathe or expel waste.

    I do wish we got to see what happens in this post-Seoyeon world. More Ji-hyung, their daughter, Moonkwon, Jaemin, Aunt, Hyanggi, etc.

  35. 35 ainossd2

    Well, happy ending has end but sad ending has a new beginning! so i like sad endings than happy endings. thanx a lot for the recap! gotta go n get tissues to watch this drama!

  36. 36 Fidelity

    I think… I’m sort of okay with the abrupt jump to SY’s post-death. As another poster mentioned, one of SY’s biggest fear throughout the drama was needing diapers; at least being able to manage without them was her last line of her pride and her last protection against the cruel disease. It seems that at the last scene, she consciously gave up that last defense for the sake of loved ones, to make it easier for them. She cast away her pride and herself with a sense of resignation and duty. That was her ‘ending’ per se.

    On the other hand, I do wish that the pace of the scenes in this episode was slower; I feel that they threw too many disconnected scenes at us. There was a moment where she called JH adjussi, likely for the first time. That scene could have had SO much more weight and theme, especially since one of the songs on the OST has this poignant line: “I’m okay… […] Even if you look at me as though you’ve never loved me…, it’s okay.”

  37. 37 pipit

    I haven’t seen this one yet. However, I was seriously considering to see it since it has my KRW. But I don’t think I could bare to see it after all.

    2011 has too many death already in Kdrama land. Why so many I wonder.

    I cried an ocean when they killed Ji Hyun in 49 Days but I love this series so much that it becomes my second most favourite series so far. Death in this one as hard to accept doesn’t ruin the whole series.

    As much as I hate the main lead being kill the fact that they didn’t kill KSA on screen was actually the thing that bothers me about SOAW. I don’t know how to explain it.

    In 49 Days I want the heroine to live so much. But they killed her. Yet, I’m still able to think it’s perfect. Strangely, when I watch SOAW I expect to see the heroine die but I fail to be happy when they didn’t kill her on the screen.

    I guess it has something to do with how you deliver/not deliver a death blow.

    Reading both of your conclusions about this series I gather I won’t be satisfied with the death of the heroine. So, I might have to pass this one. Sad, because I really want to see it.

    Perhaps at a latter day I might change my mind and won’t mind wasting another ocean of tears for the death of the main lead.

    • 37.1 bishbash

      i totally feel you for SOAW! i cannot understand why they don’t kill off KSA’s character =X

      i am bleak.

  38. 38 Lexy Cheng

    Thank you very much for the lovely recaps.
    Life happens, shit happens, then it’s over. Death is a complete closure. Connection/meaning between parent and child –> flesh and blood. That’s according to my father who was also an Alzheimer patient. Believe me, from day one that you learn of this disease in your family, it’s downward all the way. He was an accomplished and talented man but in the end, he was just B&B –> bones and blanks. After 5 years, we prayed and wished for his death, to end his sufferings. The disease killed his spirit first then erased his intelligence and finally, destroyed his body systems. Please allow me to say that this drama is exact and accurate.

  39. 39 missmanderley

    As a nurse I’ve had seen some fair share of dementia patients… it truly is heartbreaking. Especially at that end stage where what really is left is a shell of a person’s former self, breathing but continually devoid of life.

    Su Ae was just amazing, her portrayal was spot on and a real punch to the gut.

    Its not very uncommon to lash out in anger and have expressionless stares. Its just so saddening since anyone would lash out violently like that if suddenly one moment you cant remember who you are and the people around you.

  40. 40 lingergem

    Thank you guys! for all the recaps ^_^

  41. 41 foolmoon

    Thanks for the recap! Just start reading your recap and I’ve already cried… I have a problem with sad ending, heartbreaking stories, especially if the drama is believable. It affects me. A lot. And I think the real life has already enough sad stories 🙂 Reading your comment of the show just strengthen my opinion, it might not be a good catharsis cry. One thing I learn thought, that having people who love us unconditionally is a great blessing.
    Su Ae won’t have that kind of people around her if she herself is not being a loving person in the first place..

  42. 42 ika

    i didn’t watched the drama
    i didn’t read previous recap
    i don’t know who is who

    but i’m crying right now

    i will download the drama but don’t know if i have the courage to watch it

    maybe someday when i need to let my tears out

  43. 43 lakorn

    Thank goodness it’s over. Definitely not watching this any further. Way too depressing. As always, thanks for the recaps. You’ve saved me many hours of my precious time.

  44. 44 akem

    ok my vision of a better end: the last episode narrated by her. With lose of memory, constatation of the worsened of is state… sometime she said aunt sometime ajumma,… they send her in an institution, her daugther stay with the husband but they come to see her barelly everyday nor they take a lady who take care of her everyday so she can still live at home. Then a letter come, its from because of her book. They dress her well, ajushi (her husband) come to take her. She enter in a room and there is several people that clap their hand while their seing the autor. Her book became a best seller. Everone is here to congratulate her, they are smiling. We see Jae Min with a wife and kid, his brother with a girlfriend, Myung hee with her familly and her daugther, she a teen now and it end with the smile of Seon Jeon while she grab her daugther hand. He breif moment of lucidity. She say something on voiceover.
    (sorry for my english)

  45. 45 MARTIAN

    I think what gets me most for this drama is that everything is so real in the emotion. To me their message was pretty much that life is simple and short. Death doesn’t really mean a lot in the end equation cause it is inevitable and it will happen. What changes is the people who will remember you and love you after you are dead.

    And they don’t go about explaining this message in a very point blank manner either, its all very subtle and pretty much as real as it gets cause life is short and when death happens it happens, it is a reality and it is something that just is. There are no ifs and buts in the science or faith of death. And to me the finale and last scene beautifully sums that up. The drama is a straight line and all but everything is so clean cut death is actually pretty bleak and a straight road? If anyone gets me. I liked the realism this drama holds, no dramatic ending is needed to convey something as simple and beautiful as life and death.

    Anyway I still cried an ocean. Omfg. Thanks for the recaps 🙂 🙂

    • 45.1 MARTIAN

      I scrolled up just to check some things… and now I am crying… ALL OVER AGAIN D:

  46. 46 Lenita

    So sad. At least it’s ended, that’s true. Because alzheimers patients, with good care, can live a long time as they’re physically still strong.

    But if there’s anything I get from this drama, it is being thankful for health of mind and spirit. We could not all be so lucky in this life.

  47. 47 more

    @javabeans why would it piss u off that she gave up??

    ItS not a high school test where u dont give up till the end. This is an a ALL consuming illness that eats away at u. MOST people do give up especially if there is no CURE. Very few have that same fighting spirit ALL THROUGHOUT.

    U should be happy that this drama was realistic which is rare in k drama LAND ^_^

    • 47.1 Korazy Lady

      I can understand someone being mad at her for “giving up”. I was mad at my sister for years for thinking she just gave up, accepted her illness, and allowed others to do for her. But when I saw Ji Hyung’s comment in a previous episode about Seo Yeon not doing much because she’s probably afraid she’ll make a mistake, it actually gave me a different perspective. And while I think I’m a fighter, who knows how I’d act if given such a diagnosis.

  48. 48 NeoTokyo

    God,I didn’t have the courage to watch this drama,but just reading these recaps I felt that my eyes were starting to wet~ O:O:O:

  49. 49 LeiDiAngelo

    Anna Karennina ?

  50. 50 rjyuggy

    I just want to say that this is not your typical drama where there is a dramatic tribute to the dead main character in the end(that thing is overused). That’s why I’m glad that the writer steer away from that overused tribute. The synopsis of this drama said that its gonna be about a woman getting sick and dying and thats why the writer made a depressing ambiance and explored the dark themes of Alzheimer and death.

    The no plot element made this drama stand out from other melodramas. No plot means an introspective story telling technique for the main character. A very REALISTIC drama that’s why a lot of you guys are upset because what you want from a drama is a happy or exciting escape from reality.

    Some commentators here suggested that there should be a message that sums up the story but I quite disagree with this. It would just make the drama mediocre and it would be a “slice-of-life” but this drama is suppose to be DARK so theres no need for a dramatic tribute!!

    • 50.1 rjyuggy

      I also want to add that the ending somehow managed to show the main character’s flaws up to the very last moment.

      Seo Yeon’s flaws are pride, anger, stubbornness. The time skip and her being dead and just giving up to the disease sums up her flawed character. This is refreshing in Kdramaland where there’s an oversupply of perfect heroine.

      There might not be a resolution to flaws but that’s what makes her story dark and depressing in a good way.

      • 50.1.1 CutieJamaican

        @rjyuggy ..

        I whole heartedly agree with someone for the first time on this blog. Your last 2 comments summed things up perfectly. At least there is someone willing to admit that the main character had flaws and what they were.

        I think I know why she gave up but I wont say that now. Its over.


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