Hold onto your hats. And brains. And hearts. No one ever accused this show of doing too LITTLE, that’s for sure.
SONG OF THE DAY
King 2 Hearts OST – “항아의 꿈” (Hang-ah’s Dream) [ Download ]
EPISODE 19 RECAP
We open on a birthday party, and already I’m screaming But I want to know what happens with Shi-kyung! It’s someone on the royal staff, and Jae-shin comes in to join the festivities and offer a present, remembering Shi-kyung’s homework for her to learn to be with other people.
Flashback to their date in the garden. This is making me really nervous.
And then we resume to the standoff on the cliff. Shi-kyung’s gun is drawn at Jae-ha, and Bong-gu grins from ear to ear. He motions for Jae-ha to sit on his throne (the theatricality of the setup is so befitting the exhibitionist) and Shi-kyung walks him there with a gun at his back.
Jae-ha sits down tensely and looks over at Shi-kyung again in disbelief. Bong-gu tells Shi-kyung he can sit this one out if it’s too hard on him, but he says he’ll remain. Bong-gu: “Cancel the case against me, split up with Kim Hang-ah, and step down as king.”
But Jae-ha doesn’t take one hairy eyeball off of Shi-kyung the whole time. Bong-gu: “If you don’t…” Jae-ha: “Then he kills me?” Bong-gu says that part’s a given, but the choice is this – either he dies, or Korea ends up in danger. He’s literally making the king choose between himself and his people?
Hang-ah tells her father that she’s going to turn back—there’s something she and Jae-ha arranged that they didn’t tell him about. Is it a Rescue King and Bot plan? Because that’s pretty high on the priority list right now.
Bong-gu asks expectantly, “How does it feel to see your person sticking to my side?” Oozing confidence, he says not to be too hard on Shi-kyung. “What did you ever do to earn him, anyway? Me buying him with money, you with the king’s title – what’s the difference?”
Jae-ha finally turns to Shi-kyung, “Is that how it is?”
Shi-kyung: What is there to like about a powerless king? There was a time I was shaken – when you said you’d resign, when you said you couldn’t send me here. But that was all. You didn’t blame anyone else or lie down in defeat. When it was a 99% improbable reality, you plotted and schemed to find that remaining one percent. I didn’t serve you because you were the king. I served you because even in the pit of despair, you did not give up.
As the speech starts to turn, in that last line, he whirls around and aims his gun at Bong-gu. Aaaahhhhh! So good!
I love that the speech is read by Bong-gu as the reasons why he wouldn’t follow a powerless king (he was “shaken,” ie. moved to be on Jae-ha’s side when he tried to stop him) but is in truth a speech about why he believes in Jae-ha the person, not the king. (And in that context, those are honestly the moments of weakness when his faith in Jae-ha was actually shaken.) Love.
Of course, as soon as Shi-kyung shows his true colors (We never doubted you, we swears it!) Bong-gu’s face goes white, Bon Bon draws her weapon, and the firing squad of minions surrounds them. This was the big plan? TELL ME THIS WAS NOT THE BIG PLAN. Jae-ha, are you even armed??
And then suddenly, an army descends on them, led by Young-bae and Dong-ha. Ohthankgod. I was seriously sweating bullets for that second. It was a long second.
And in the distance, Hang-ah arrives on a bluff above them, and takes out a sniper rifle. Nice. I love the things this girl can do in a skirt. She’s so my kind of badass – I like this rifle, but, does it go with my outfit?
She scans the scene below and stops right at Bon Bon. I can just hear the chorus of everyone chanting, “Shoot! Shoot!”
Flashback to the code that Jae-ha and Shi-kyung set up. The trigger phrase was “Are you in a position to talk?” And then it was up to Shi-kyung to respond to that phrase with the true location, in code.
So he had responded on the phone call with the somewhat awkward phrase, “I have secured it.” (It’s not that weird a sentence, but more the way you’d describe getting your driver’s license, rather than winning over a person’s trust, but in case you were wondering, it makes perfect sense given the context.) And then we see Dong-ha and his team enter the phrase into the code-o-matic for the real location.
Back to the present, where Jae-ha now answers Bong-gu’s question. “What’d you tell me to choose between, Korea or my life? I choose… YOU.” Ha. Awesome.
And then Shi-kyung inches forward right into the path of the guns, and yells at everyone to drop their weapons. The minions all comply… except for one. Bon Bon holds out, and then finally moves to put her gun down in defeat.
But at the last second she raises her gun at Jae-ha… and Hang-ah shoots her in the arm. And just a split second behind her, Shi-kyung shoots too, this one a kill shot straight through her chest. They open fire and all the minions go down, and Bon Bon dies bloody.
The ICC comes to arrest Bong-gu and cuff his hands above his head. As they read him his rights, Shi-kyung and Jae-ha turn to each other and breathe a sigh of relief, Shi-kyung beaming now that it’s all done.
But Bong-gu is still reeling from Shi-kyung’s betrayal, and in a split second opportunity, he pulls out a tiny handgun he had literally up his sleeve, and shoots.
Shi-kyung gets hit right in the chest, his blood splattering onto Jae-ha. He’s the last one to register it—everyone scrambles to secure Bong-gu, and he turns to look up at Jae-ha, who’s gaping at him in horror.
He staggers and Jae-ha catches him as he goes down. He puts his hand over the wound, bleeding profusely. They look over at Bong-gu, who’s still seething, “Why do make me be this way?” Jae-ha looks at him in utter disbelief.
Shi-kyung looks down at his body, still a little confused, and tries to speak. But Jae-ha tells him not to talk and screams for the ambulance to get here. Dong-ha breaks from his shock to run for help. He’s gonna make it right? RIGHT?
Jae-ha cradles him and starts to cry as the panic sets in, “What do we do, what do we do… because of me…” By now Shi-kyung is coughing up blood, but he strains to say, “You can’t think that way. It was my choice. We caught Bong-gu. And from now on, you can’t give up, ever.”
Gah, he uses his last dying breath to make sure Jae-ha doesn’t feel BAD about his death? Not that I expected anything less of course.
Jae-ha clutches him, screaming, “Eun Shi-kyung! Don’t die! Shi-kyung-ah… It’s an order! DON’T DIE!” Ohgodohgodohgodohgod. He’s gonna die, isn’t he? This can’t be happening…
We see Shi-kyung lying there in Jae-ha’s arms, and then in voiceover we hear him sing Jae-shin’s song, as flash back to their happy memories. Fuck. Happy flashbacks mean he’s a goner. WTF, Show?
It leads into her version of the song, and then to her singing it in the present, doing her homework just like she promised. We fade back and forth between him lying there and their moments together, ending on his group photo with the WOC team.
Back in the present, Jae-ha screams for Shi-kyung not to die, as Young-bae and Hang-ah watch, frozen in place.
And then Shi-kyung’s eyes close and he goes limp in Jae-ha’s arms, as Jae-ha keeps pleading with him not to die, even after he’s gone.
I’m honestly still in denial, but I don’t think there’s any way out of this. There isn’t going to be any happy reunion in the hospital where everyone gives him a hard time about the big scare, is there? BUT. BUT. WHY CAN’T THERE BE?
Cut to later, in the palace, where Hang-ah tells Jae-shin that Shi-kyung is dead. She looks up in disbelief, “He said he was going on vacation… Really… He doesn’t know how to lie…”
Hang-ah hands her a little box, and Jae-shin starts to tremble and cry. She opens it. It’s Shi-kyung’s dogtags. Shit. It really did happen, didn’t it? It’s only now starting to sink in that he’s really dead.
Jae-shin starts to cry inconsolably, and between sobs she wails that he said he’d return, and if she did her homework, and sang…
Hang-ah starts to cry and hugs her, as Jae-shin loses it, “He said he’d come back! He said he’d come back!” *waaaaaaaaah*
Dad sits in Shi-kyung’s empty office, running his hand over the nameplate. Jae-ha comes in and says, “We’re thinking the same thing right now: ‘I killed him. He died because of me.’ But because I’m the king, I can’t just sit here thinking those thoughts. And you can’t either.”
He runs his hand over the nameplate too, tears filling his eyes. “I’m a little different from him. But what do you think of me? I’ll treat you as my own father.” I don’t know why, but that’s the moment I lose it. I can’t stop crying.
He bows to ajusshi and then gives him a hug. It’s sort of perfect, because Dad doesn’t deserve this kind of love or forgiveness, but that’s the point—this is about Shi-kyung and what he deserves.
And then Shi-kyung gets his military funeral, with a medal of honor. Dong-ha tells Jae-ha that Shi-kyung is technically still under orders to carry out his mission abroad, and he asks Jae-ha to change the order so that “at least his soul can return.”
It’s not something that makes sense to most of us, but I understand why Dong-ha would say it—they are soldiers who follow the king’s orders, and I sort of love the sentiment that Shi-kyung would be the same in the afterlife, or that Dong-ha at least sees him that way.
So Jae-ha officially orders Shi-kyung to return to his unit and salutes him. And then my heart breaks all over again.
The ICC case against Bong-gu gets under way, but Club M fights to get him out on bail. Wut? If you let him out after Shi-kyung died to get him there, imma bust some kneecaps. Jae-ha pretty much says the same, and presses them to keep him under lock and key.
With bail denied, Bong-gu asks what on earth their contacts in the U.S. and China are doing, and tells his lawyer to leak their Club M ties – some will have to be sacrificed to make it clear this is not okay.
Hang-ah continues her charity work (gradually becoming more comfortable with a Seoul accent), and tells Mother that she’s doing fine. Jae-ha calls (“Who were you talking to on the other line? Was it a man?” Hee.) and tells her everyone’s liking August 15 as their wedding date.
She doesn’t say anything (too busy swooning) so he’s like, “Hello, hello? You do still want to marry me, right?” Ha. She teases that it wouldn’t be so bad not to, and he reminds her of what they’ve been through to get here, so there’s no goin’ back now.
He tells her to come an hour earlier to the pro-reunification event later that day, and he scurries into a corner to whisper that he wants to have some time to walk around together, “holding hands,” which he says like it’s super sneaky and wrong.
She gasps, “Can we?” Haha, these two. She wonders if they can really have a normal date like a couple of regular joes, and he’s like fine, if you don’t want to, I’ll just go with someone else then. Heh.
He asks if they should go crazy and have a drink in the middle of the day, and she blushes and stammers a no to that. Is that because every time you guys drink, it ends in smooches? They make a date for later, grinning from ear to ear.
Problems arise in the ICC, and the international pressure to get Bong-gu out on bail starts to push back against Jae-ha and Korea. He counters the threats with an If this isn’t your country’s official position, I don’t want to hear it, which holds them off for now, but the pressure mounts for them to relent on the issue of bail.
It’s most effective where Bong-gu is strongest—an attack on the economy. China cuts off access to an oil pipeline, for instance, and suddenly Korea’s in a panic. Advisors are asking Jae-ha to agree to bail, while Secretary Eun tells him not to relent.
Hang-ah comes by in good spirits, only to overhear the conversation and Jae-ha canceling the promotional event later today (and their date, natch). She asks Dad what the hell is going on, and he fills her in.
She urges him to get North Korea onboard, but he tells her there’s equal pressure on them too. He tells her it’s a South Korean matter, but she tells him that’s her job now, to protect Jae-ha and this country. “You were the one who told me that I was a South Korean now.”
Hang-ah watches Jae-ha up to his neck in stress, and puts her hands on his shoulders. He takes her hand and apologizes for their date, and she tells him that North Korea is going to help and take their side with the ICC.
She’s also decided that going there herself is the best way to make their presence count in this fight, and says that she’ll be going too. He quickly says no, pleading with her to just stay put and stay by his side until Bong-gu is put away.
She tries to reason with him but he can’t live with her being captured or hurt again, and yells, “Can’t you just stay put?!” Hang-ah asks for how long—until Bong-gu is put away? What if he isn’t? Then what?
“Am I supposed to spend the rest of my life hiding in the palace because I’m afraid of Kim Bong-gu?!” GAH, I love that we have a heroine who asks these questions. Jae-ha knows it’s the wrong answer but he says it anyway: “Yes.” She storms out. He buries his head in his hands.
A little while later, he gets Hang-ah out under the guise of some midnight charity work (how she falls for it is beyond me) and she finds herself dropped off in the middle of nowhere in the dark.
Suddenly fireworks go off, and a fountain turns on, and Jae-ha appears in the center with a big goofy grin. She just laugh-sighs, used to his brand of crazy gestures by now.
She pouts that this doesn’t make up for their promised street date—there’s no people (Jae-ha: “I’m here”), no sun (Jae-ha: “There’s moonlight”). And then she adds for good measure, “And what if Kim Bong-gu appears? I’m sooooo scared.” Ha. He breaks into a laugh.
Jae-ha: “I’m sorry. I can’t hold your hand or buy you tea like regular people do. I’m sorry that we can’t even go for a walk. I’m sorry that I do nothing but yell, and I’m sorry that all I do is get angry. I said I’d make you happy, but I let all the worst things happen to you, for that I’m so sorry. That’s why I can’t let you go. I can’t do anything without you anymore.”
AW. Okay, I-can’t-function-without-you is way better than you-can’t-leave-for-your-own-safety-even-though-you-are-totally-more-badass-than-I-am. Because that makes sense to nobody. You’re still gonna lose this argument, but the apology is awesome.
She grabs him in a hug. It’s adorable.
Then they go for a midnight date in the amusement park, which I’d say was a good idea except for the last time you were held hostage in one. He has to drag her onto a roller coaster kicking and screaming, and then we cut to his glazed-over face and her screaming, “Again! Again!” Hahaha.
They feed the bears, they feed each other, and Jae-ha stops to tie her shoelaces, saying that an untied shoelace means someone’s thinking of her right now—who could that be? You are the king of cheese, but it’s so friggin’ cute.
They sit for a while and then she asks, “Weren’t we going together?” She means life, which I love. “Don’t look at me as a woman, but as a person, going forward with you hand in hand.”
He sighs—so she’s insisting on going to the ICC after all? She turns to him, “Comrade Lee Jae-ha,” but he replies in his pissy mood, “I said I wouldn’t be your comrade!” She pouts.
He lets out a deep sigh, and then says fine, let’s just say you run into Bong-gu there—what will you do? So she grabs his arm, twists it behind him, stands up, and pins him down in all of three seconds. HA.
She introduces herself as the king’s fiancée, and then leans in close, choking him, “You made my man cry tears of blood? Today will be your funeral.”
And then Jae-ha answers the same way he did that first day in the bathroom, when she mopped him: “I’ll do well!” HEE.
She softens her face and her grip and says it’ll just be for three days. He tells her to go. Hang-ah: “You know that I’m always by your side, right?” He gets up and gives her a little peck on the lips.
She returns it with a sweet little lip graze, and then he wraps his arms around her for real kiss.
Hang-ah goes to make her case with the ICC, but she’s too late—Bong-gu’s bail has been approved, citing health problems. My ass. Hang-ah tries, but can’t get them to delay the ruling any longer, so by the time she exits the building, Bong-gu is already on his way out. URG.
He stops to greet her, smug as ever. He asks how the wedding plans are going and warns her that he’ll be meddling, since he’s going to take the fight to them.
Meanwhile Jae-ha gets the warning that the U.S. might maybe attack North Korea, if they feel like it. Bong-gu’s influence over international affairs already stretches the limits of believability to their ends—should we really be pulling harder in the final stretch, Show?
Jae-ha makes sure to record the conversation with his keyword phrase, though nothing is stated outright in the exchange. Jae-ha returns the threat with one of his own—that the second the U.S. attacks North Korea, they won’t be able to step one foot inside South Korea.
So basically Bong-gu’s idea of keeping their unholy union from coming to pass is to send their countries into war. Which frankly, I expected this show to pull out sooner. Welcome to worst-case scenario. Sort of wish we could’ve gotten here sooner, though I know that’s sadistic of me.
Hang-ah tells him that his eyes are giving him away—it’s the first thing she trains her soldiers to do, and clearly Bong-gu is more afraid than he’s letting on. He chuckles that she should read the wedding present he sent, which will give helpful suggestions for how her country will remain on this planet.
He turns to add that South Korea probably won’t be so lucky, and calls her out for letting her eyes betray her emotions. He walks away laughing. He gets to just walk away? How can that be? Somebody DIED to put him there! For the love of all that is right in this forsaken place! GRAR.
Hang-ah returns to the palace and she and Jae-ha ask Secretary Eun if their wedding is going to cause a war. Should they stop?
He tells Jae-ha that there are two choices: the first is to agree to Bong-gu’s terms and resign, and the second is to do everything in their power to keep war from breaking out while continuing their fight.
Secretary Eun: “If you were a citizen, what kind of king would you want?” Jae-ha looks over at Hang-ah, and then breaks out into a smile, “Let’s start with diplomatic relations.”
Dong-ha brings a safe deposit box to Jae-shin, full of Shi-kyung’s personal effects that were requested to be brought to her. She tentatively asks for the combination to open it, and he gives the first few numbers and pauses to look up the rest, but she realizes it’s her birthday, which opens the safe.
She pulls something out. OHGOD, it’s a video letter. Break out the tissues. Dong-ha brings her to Shi-kyung’s old office (now his) which is the only room in the whole palace that has a VHS player, and he muses that it’s so like Shi-kyung to be so old-school.
She finally presses play and Shi-kyung peeps into the frame timidly. He coughs awkwardly and says that he tried to write her a letter, but that didn’t go so well. Flashback to that night he started to write the letter and promptly realized he couldn’t write one. Aw, Bot.
So he digs out an old VHS camcorder from the cabinet and reads the manual (I swear, this guy) and finally starts the recording. What’s great is that he records it in the very spot she’s looking at, so when cut together, it’s like they’re sitting across the table from each other. It kind of kills me.
He starts with an apology for the kiss, wherein he can barely even say the word. “I was a coward. I thought that because I’m so frustrating and not any fun, the second I showed any weakness you’d get tired of me.”
He says that’s why he had resigned himself to just looking at her from afar. And then the way he sighs, and then bites his lip as he looks up at the camera while admitting, “But I couldn’t,” it turns me into a puddle of goo.
And then we get a two-shot of them across the divide, sitting at the table together, with him bathed in angelic light. He confesses now that he liked her from the moment they met, because she was everything he wasn’t—so carefree and bold.
He says that he always wished he could be someone who was right for her, and that’s why he decided to go on this mission – to be someone worthy of her. He starts to say, “If you’re watching this…” but chokes on the words and waves the thought aside.
He smiles and says she won’t ever have to see this, and she breaks into tears. He promises to return an impressive person, and holds up a little book about humor that he’s bringing along. Hahahaha. Oh, Bot.
He tells her that he won’t be frustrating from now on. It makes her cry harder but smile too. He holds up his fist in this super awkward gesture to say that he’ll totally be smooth from now on. He laughs at himself.
“I’ll return someone as impressive and bold as you are. And I’ll tell you myself in person. That I love you.”
*tears* Gah, that’s so mean. Why are you doing this to us?
He smiles to himself, giddy at the thought of saying those words to her when he returns. He gives a little salute, and then it ends. We cut back out to Jae-shin bawling in front of the tv.
Bong-gu sees that Jae-ha isn’t backing down, disappointed at not getting a response to his wedding present. He says they’ll have to give the U.S. a little push, and bombs the hell out of Michigan. Michigan? Whatever, anyway, North Korea is “found” to be responsible, so now they have proper motivation for a counterattack.
It’s a totally ridiculous super-speed version which takes out a lot of the punch (had this been a major plot arc carried out with some time spent on it, it would’ve been more interesting than half a dozen other Bong-gu moves up till now), but anyway the upshot is, Bong-gu has successfully driven his wedge.
North Korea flips out, and Hang-ah’s father suggests the prime minister reach out to the South and ask for their help. He folds his pride and does so, but at the same time, the South Korean prime minister caves with a phone call from the U.S.
North Korea waits on pins and needles, as the South announces that its troops are siding with the U.S. and gearing up for war. Oh crap. So then North Korea reacts, and it announces that they’ll attack the South. Double crap.
The orders come down the pipeline, and Dong-ha gets a call. He doesn’t like what he hears, but he’s told to follow orders. He goes down to tell Hang-ah that her father is there to see her, but Jae-ha has to go to the palace. Oh no, Dong-ha, don’t do it!
They take Jae-ha back to the palace, while Hang-ah’s father comes to take her to lunch. Neither is told what’s going on, but Jae-ha is greeted by a line of generals, while Hang-ah’s dad takes her to the border. They both stop in their tracks and ask what’s going on.
Dong-ha finally tells Jae-ha that it’s war.
Dad tells Hang-ah the same – that the U.S. will attack Pyongyang, and then they’ll attack Seoul. Her face goes white.
The words sink in and Jae-ha looks up, “Hang-ah… WHERE IS HANG-AH?!”
Hang-ah begs her father not to do this, but he has her dragged to the gate. She turns back, screaming, “Comrade Lee Jae-ha!”
Damn, another good ending. The thing is, this war plotline was one that I expected to happen eons ago (after all, a North-South union’s biggest and most obvious threat is war), and one that could’ve been so much more effective had it been built up with a stronger foundation. It has a few things on its side—namely the history of civil strife in Korea—that it doesn’t really have to do the groundwork, and yet I think that’s lazy writing. If the ICC was gonna go to shit anyway, what the fuck did we spend all that story time on it for? And more importantly, WHY DID SHI-KYUNG HAVE TO DIE?
Had war been the central point of Bong-gu’s attack (and made evident through a carefully planned out arc for him), this final turn would’ve carried much more impact, because then we’d see that this was his endgame, and it would feel like a momentous climax. It IS, in terms of level of conflict (that, they got right, and of course the dramatic separation) but it’s not the kind of satisfying narrative climax it could have been.
We spent a hell of a lot of time out of a precious pre-finale episode setting up plot points that all felt rushed and shoehorned in because they weren’t planned and placed ahead of time. I really don’t want to spend the final two episodes watching foreign day players. You already relied on them too much in other episodes, and the setup should’ve already been there. To take time away from the characters at their emotional climaxes to give exposition at this hour was really annoying, more so than usual.
I really held out hope that Shi-kyung wouldn’t die, and I understand why you could argue that a person like him can’t even exist in the real world. And he was given a beautifully heart-wrenching death that ran the gamut of emotions for him, for Jae-ha, and for Jae-shin. (Though I’m still holding out hope that the drama will give us a beat for Jae-ha to mourn Shi-kyung properly.) But right now I’m having trouble seeing the good in it, when Bong-gu is running around freely. What did he die for? I know HE would answer that he died for what the king represents—his people, and honor and duty and justice and all that. But I want to see that his death had a palpable result – Bong-gu’s capture gave me some small tangible thing to cling to, and then when he got out, I felt like I got stripped of that. I NEEDED THAT. Why are you taking it from me?!
Though the setup of the final stretch was clunky (and that’s judging by this drama’s standards because everything else had much more lead time and solid blueprint work going in) the final separation of the couple with the threat of war is a great place to be for the final episode. Their fight over Hang-ah going to ICC was really the setup for their final separation, and the question that has always been the big giant elephant in this engagement: What happens when your countries go to war?
We find out tomorrow, come hell or high water.
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 18
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 17
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 16
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 15
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 14
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 13
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 12
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 11
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 10
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 9
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 8
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 7
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 6
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 5
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 4
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 3
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 2
- The King 2 Hearts: Episode 1