Drama Recaps
Gaksital: Episode 28 (Final)
by | September 6, 2012 | 344 Comments

I have good news and bad. The bad: Gaksital has to end, and today’s the day. The good: It is damn good, all the way to the finish line. Brace yourselves, citizens. This show hasn’t let up for one moment, and it sure as hell isn’t going to start now. Prepare your tears and your fists, and reserve a hug from someone close for the aftermath.

The finale aired at a series high of 22.9% ratings. Here we go…

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Boss Jo walks Mok Dan down the aisle, and Kang-to takes her hand. Teacher Yang Baek presides over the small wedding in front of friends and family, and tells them to face any hardship with love, and to use that love… to have ten children. They giggle.

What they don’t hear is the thundering sound of boots getting closer and closer. Perhaps it’s better this way. Shunji leads the imperial army and his own policemen, prepared to ambush the camp. His mole meets them to report on everyone’s whereabouts.

Shunji asks where Kang-to is. Mole: “At the wedding.” Uh… his wedding to be exact. To the one girl you’ve decided is your only saving grace. Oh crap doesn’t really do the moment justice.

Shunji’s face contorts in shock and anger, and demands to know where. He sends the army to hit the camp, while he takes a small group of men to the wedding.

Kang-to and Mok Dan actually get to finish the ceremony and walk down the aisle as husband and wife. It’s making me So. Nervous.

Shunji runs and runs, as they walk down the aisle and their friends clap. Mok Dan gives her bouquet to Sun-hwa, and Deuk-soo cheers like an adorable spaz.

And then… Shunji arrives. Everything turns to slow motion, as he sees Mok Dan smiling and happy, standing there in her wedding dress next to Kang-to. Oof. That moment, no matter what Shunji’s done up till now, cuts deep.

He just stands there, frozen, watching them smile blissfully. Slowly Mok Dan’s eyes start to change… she sees him first. Shunji raises his gun. No.

He fires. Mok Dan is faster. Ohgodohgod.

By the time the bullet reaches Kang-to, she’s already standing in front of him, to block the shot. Blood pours down her white dress.

Fuck. Fuck, I knew it. I knew the moment you got that wedding dress you’d die in it. Gaaaaaaaaah. Why did you tempt the fates? WHY?

Kang-to only realizes what’s happened as she falls into his arms. He catches her, trembling in horror, and looks up to see Shunji. He’s reeling just as badly.

Shunji stands there numb, watching everything happen in slow motion. Kang-to picks her up and runs, as the wedding party scrambles to get everyone to safety. The rest of the officers arrive, and Boss Jo lunges at Shunji to keep him from Mok Dan.

Shunji shoots him through the chest, but Boss Jo grabs his leg and holds on for dear life, buying Kang-to and Mok Dan precious seconds to get away. Augh, it’s horrifying but so moving. Shunji breaks into a rage and beats him to a pulp, and then shoots him again. He finally lets go.

Comrade Jo does the same, staying behind to shoot so that her leaders can get away. They have to drag Teacher Yang Baek away from her, as they watch her fall to her death.

Shunji tears through the woods, looking for Kang-to, and picks up a trail of blood. Mok Dan’s blood. Augh.

Kang-to runs and runs, carrying her. He trips and they falter, and she pleads with him to put her down. He says just a little longer.

Mok Dan: “Please, put me down.” *TEARS*

She’s asking him to let her go. I can’t take this. He starts to cry, understanding what she means. Mok Dan: “Don’t cry. Today is our wedding day.”

She starts to cry as she worries for HIM: “You said you fight because of me… but I ended up like this… and I wanted to make you dinner every day… I wanted to wear the flower rings… Be strong. Promise me that you’ll be strong, even without your wife. Promise me.”

He just nods, his whole body shaking with tears.

Shunji reaches the end of his blood trail, but no Kang-to. He fumes.

Mok Dan reaches out to caress Kang-to’s face one last time, and then she dies in his arms. He clutches her and lets out a piercing cry. Auuuuuugh. I don’t know if I can handle any more pain for Kang-to. It’s too much. I feel broken.

It’s his cry that Shunji hears, and he runs toward the sound. CAN’T YOU LET HIM MOURN IN PEACE?

Kang-to sobs as he holds his bride’s lifeless body, on their freaking wedding day. I hate the universe today. But Show, I kind of love.

Shunji finds them and falters again, as he sees Mok Dan. What, did you expect that she’d survive?? He tells her to put her down, screaming, “It’s because of you! It’s because of you!”

Oh wow. That is some powerful denial. You pulled the trigger, but it’s Kang-to’s fault? He raises his gun, shaking in fury, and Kang-to doesn’t even move. He just glares in stone-cold anger.

But thankfully Baek Gun arrives and knocks Shunji out from behind to buy them time. They run. Thank goodness, because I’m pretty sure Kang-to would’ve fought gun-to-fist back there.

Meanwhile, it’s a massacre at the camp. The death squad fights to the end, but they’ve been ambushed and outnumbered, and they go down bloody.

Abe is among the troops, and as he surveys the bodies of people he knew lying on the ground, he takes off his hat.

Kye-soon’s little brother Min-kyu lies on the ground after an explosion, but wakes up just as troops are walking through to make sure everyone’s dead. A member of the death squad wakes up next to him to see him stir, and quickly lies on top of him to keep him from being found alive.

He gets shot the second he moves, and his blood pours down Min-kyu’s face, after having saved his life.

Shunji wakes up in the woods, dazed. But then he sees the pool of blood where Mok Dan died, and falls to his knees. He reaches his hands out, trembling, as if he can touch her there, and breaks down.

It’s telling that he cries just as hard as Kang-to. And it’s just as gut-wrenching, but in a totally different way. Shunji is such a tragic figure, having turned Mok Dan into his sole salvation, only to kill her. He wails, his hands drenched in her blood.

Dong-jin and Yang Baek relocate safely to Dong-jin’s hideout. Comrade Ahn reports on the deaths, his voice breaking as he says he’ll take care to bury Comrade Jo when it’s dark. Yang Baek asks him to find Kang-to as well.

Shunji reports to governor Wada that all 300 death squad fighters were killed. He’s pleased at the numbers, but asks how the key three leaders escaped. Shunji says they’re scouring the mountains right now in search of them, along with the weapons stash that they weren’t able to find.

He returns to his darkened office alone, and there’s just a really nice, tense moment where he sits in the dark, and the phone rings. He doesn’t move to answer it, and every ring sounds more ominous than the last, like it’s sounding the alarm for the unleashing of something terrifying.

The calls must’ve been from Rie, because she comes running into his office in a panic. She asks what happened with Kang-to and Mok Dan in the raid, but then takes it back immediately—she doesn’t want to know.

After a long pause, Shunji: “Mok Dan is dead. I killed her.” He says he was shooting at the man who killed his father, but she ran into the line of fire. “It was the first time I had ever seen her smile that way…”

But just as I’m about to note that he admits to killing her, his dark expression returns, “The one who killed Mok Dan was Kang-to. Not me!” Rie’s looks at him in horror. He swears he’ll kill Kang-to, and Rie’s eyes dart back and forth in panic.

Kang-to lies on Mok Dan’s grave. That alone just kills me—the way he lies there, still holding on, face to the dirt. The tears just keep falling, as he remembers her promise to follow him into the heart of the fire, anywhere.

And then her insistence that Gaksital needed to live, to be a light for the Joseon people. He tells himself, “Be strong, Lee Kang-to. Let’s be strong. You promised you’d be strong.”

Baek Gun pleads with him to get up now. He says for Boon-yi’s sake, he has to get up, and tells him about the massacre. He finally manages to lift his head from the dirt a few inches, as he shakes, “Ajusshi, what did you say?” Baek Gun: “They’re all dead!”

Still a little out of it, Kang-to asks, “The soldiers I saved… are all dead?” Baek Gun: “The entire river is stained with the blood of the youth.”

That finally wakes Kang-to up and he asks where Teacher Yang Baek is. Baek Gun sighs in relief and tells him they’re at the hideout. Kang-to turns to the grave and thinks to himself, “Boon-yi-ya… I’ll get up. I’ll be strong.”

And then he stands.

He meets Dong-jin and Yang Baek who thank him for returning alive. Yang Baek asks haltingly after Mok Dan. Kang-to: “I laid her down in sunny spot.” I’m crying all over again.

Yang Baek laments the death of so many of their young, and says that they must fight. Dong-jin says that they will fight to reclaim their land, so that the blood of their comrades will not have been in vain.

Chairman Ueno is disgruntled at Shunji’s performance, thinking it pointless to have cut off the snake’s tail while leaving the head intact. But Shunji argues that an armed attack is improbable without foot soldiers, and that they’ve found a way to draw the leaders out.

They’ve spread the rumor that Dong-jin died in the attack, making his other death squads separate and lose focus. In order to keep them intact, Dong-jin has to show his face eventually.

Meanwhile, the good guys prepare to go into town. Haha, I just love that one’s dressed as a monk and the other’s a priest. There’s a bar joke in there somewhere. Yang Baek is headed out of Kyungsung, and he and Kang-to hug each other goodbye, promising to meet again someday.

On his way down the mountain, Little Bro Min-kyu stumbles into Dong-jin, having survived for days alone in the woods. Aw. Dong-jin hugs him and thanks the boy for staying alive, and Min-kyu cries in his arms.

Shunji drives through town and reels at the sight of a woman in a white dress. He replays the moment he shot Mok Dan again and again. I love the sick twist of that—it’s Shunji who’s more haunted by Mok Dan’s death than anyone.

Comrade Ahn pedicabs Yang Baek into town, and right past Shunji… but he’s too blinded by his Mok Dan trauma to notice. Whew.

Newssheets announce the attack on the death squads, and the deaths of Dong-jin and Gaksital. Kye-soon cries as she reads it, only to have her little brother walk right into the restaurant behind her, along with Dong-jin.

She hugs Min-kyu tearfully, and gets introduced to Dong-jin. She’s surprised that he’s alive as well, and he asks that she spread the word that he’s alive and that the death squads continue to fight. She promises to spread the word. Did we actually find a good use for the snitch? That’s hilarious.

Shunji returns to the station, where his officers nervously hand him an envelope of the pictures he ordered. He takes them into his office. They can’t be… He wouldn’t…

He braces himself and takes them out… Oh man, he did. They’re the wedding pictures that Reporter Song took. He shakes as he looks at the pictures of Mok Dan and Kang-to smiling in bliss.

He lingers on a shot of Mok Dan and cries, and then goes through the pictures all over again, torturing himself.

Baek Gun reports that Teacher Yang Baek successfully boarded the train out of town. He asks Kang-to how long he’s going to let Shunji live, and Kang-to says it’s time to deal with him. But there’s someone else he has to eliminate first.

The man who killed the death squad and the student soldiers, the one who turned Joseon into a prison and exploited its people…

Cut to: Chairman Ueno. Awwwww yeah.

He calls Rie in to ask why she didn’t run when Shunji spared her life. She says Father taught her that power was everything in this world, so where else would she go? He sneers in disgust that she’d have Kang-to in her heart and still dare to call him Father.

He says this is the end of their union, and nods at Kinpei. Oh crap. Katsuyama watches as Kinpei draws his sword and aims for Rie’s neck…

She doesn’t move, doesn’t run. Kinpei raises his sword for the strike… and Katsuyama attacks. YESSSSS! Go, Katsuyama, go!

Now it’s samurai against samurai, with Rie in between them, and Chairman Ueno yelling at them to follow orders. Kinpei quickly gains the upper hand, but then, a dagger!

Gaksital bursts in, and throws a punishment dagger at Ueno’s desk. Kinpei fights back even with the dagger in his chest, and Kang-to levels another one, while Katsuyama gets up and slices Kinpei open. Whoa. They’re… fighting on the same side? Just for a moment, but whoa.

Kang-to walks past Rie and levels his killin’ flute at Ueno. Kang-to: “Your greed to consume the Far East, the Pacific Ocean… has taken my family, and Shunji’s, away from us.” It kills me that he includes Shunji here.

Ueno says that’s the cost of war, in making an honorable history. Kang-to: “Yours is not a noble history, but a crime that will not fade!”

He points his cane at Ueno’s throat as the Gakistal theme rises up. He gives that familiar speech: “I have come to punish you for your wrongs!” and strikes Ueno dead.

He walks out, and Rie runs after him. She says she heard about Mok Dan, and was worried about him. And then… she says that Shunji is hurting too. She asks, “Just as I let you live, can’t you let him go, just once? Killing him won’t make your pain disappear. I don’t want you to be in pain anymore.”

But he doesn’t reply. He steels himself and walks past her, without a word.

Shunji sits before his father, as Damsari’s words that he’d wasted his life come back to haunt him. He answers a call—it’s Rie, who says that Gaksital killed Ueno.

Shunji just smiles at the news, “So he’ll come for me then.” She asks if he can’t just avoid Kang-to tonight, and worries that he’s planning to do something stupid. He laughs, “You don’t know me very well, do you?”

He asks if she’ll leave now. She finally says yes. “Alone?” She says, knowing it’s an empty request: “If I say I go alone, will you hold me back and tell me not to go?”

He smiles on the other end of the line and shakes his head. “Go well. And live well.” She tells him to do the same. It’s a lovely moment between two tragic characters. Not love, but understanding.

Shunji takes out his gun, cocks it, and puts it back in the drawer. He waits.

Katsuyama drops Rie off with her suitcase. He asks where she’s going, if he can’t go with her. She says it’s best to say goodbye here. He pleads one last time if he can’t remain by her side like a shadow.

Rie: “Katsuyama, looking into the eyes of someone who will never love you back is a life of despair.” She thanks him and turns to go. It’s a beautiful scene—not just emotionally, but visually stunning.

She turns back to add, “My name… is Choi Hong-joo.” Wow, the first time we hear her claim her true identity.

Katsuyama smiles, maybe for the first time ever, and calls out after her, “I will never forget your name.” She smiles and walks away.

Kang-to stealths into the Kimura house and takes off his mask in front of Dad’s memorial. Shunji is waiting, and pours him a drink. He asks casually, “You came?” Kang-to shuts the door behind him.

Shunji says they can at least have a drink together right? “Since this is the end.” Don’t remind me! Kang-to sits across from him and downs his drink, and Shunji does too. Shunji: “Did you send Mok Dan well?”

Kang-to can’t believe the casual words, “Did I send her well?

Shunji opens a drawer and takes out a wedding photo and passes it over. Kang-to’s eyes well up, but he shuts them to drown out the pain. Shunji says it’s the first time he’s seen her smile that way, “even though it was for another.”

He says he had the photo printed to give to him, “Because it’s yours.” Kang-to tucks it into his shirt, “You’re letting her go now? After you killed her by your own hand?”

Shunji tries to tell him not to be too harsh—he had to let her go from afar. Kang-to: “Do you think I’m here for Mok Dan alone? Is Mok Dan the only person who died at your hand?”

He names them all—every single comrade who died while he tortured them, Dong-nyun, Boss Jo, Damsari… Boon-yi, the young soldiers.

Kang-to: “The youth, who were someone’s son, someone’s husband, someone’s brother—the young people who gathered to reclaim their land! … I didn’t realize how much I’d come to regret not killing you that day.”

Shunji says he knows that feeling—the day his father died, and he regretted choosing not to kill him and put his mask back on. Kang-to asks if it isn’t time now to end it. “You or me… one of us must die for it to end, doesn’t it?”

They look into each other’s eyes, and Kang-to whispers, “Are you ready?” Shunji nods with a smile. He tells Kang-to to meet him in the yard, “I’ll be right there.” What? No, don’t turn your back. Don’t turn your back. DON’T DO IT.

Kang-to gets up and walks out, and Shunji takes out his gun…

And then he raises it to his temple. Oh. Fuck. SHUNJI!!!!

He winces and holds back tears, and shoots. Kang-to stops in his tracks, knowing what it means. A tear trickles down his face, and then he forges ahead, without turning back.

Nanny runs in to find Shunji dead, and cries with his head in her lap, his eyes still wet from tears.

The movement works tirelessly to prepare for the armed demonstration. Sun-hwa and her brother paint Korean flags, while Kang-to makes masks—gaksitals, each carved by hand.

Deuk-soo and Sun-hwa pass out flags at the marketplace, and Dong-jin and his very small group of men who remain gather their hands, “Solidarity.”

Governor Wada presides over the anniversary of the Japan-Korea union, and leads the room in a round of “Bansai!” to the Empire.

And outside, the sound of boots hitting the pavement, in perfect step…

The death squad members march in the rain, steeled with purpose. They go right through the center of town… and straight for the police station. Koiso and his men scramble out to meet them.

And then two by two, citizens come pouring out from alleyways, every single one of them dressed as Gaksital.

Oh my god. This is so moving.

Soon the entire street is filled with them, waving flags. I can’t see through my tears. They begin to chant:

“Korean Independence, manseh!” [They're using manseh "long live," the one word that embodies the entire independence movement, as a rebellion against the Japanese banzai.]

It’s the fighting cry of the people to reclaim their nation. The roar of their cheer echoes through the streets, and they march ahead, led in front by the death squad. Koiso and his men ready themselves against the mob.

Hands and flags go up in the air, as they walk straight into certain death. It’s unbelievably awe-inspiring.

From the front line, Reporter Song screams the cue, and they charge at full speed. The officers train their guns, and then explosions go off behind them.

As the crowd runs to attack, there’s Kang-to, walking amongst them in the center of the mob. He marches straight ahead, now surrounded by countless Gaksitals all sounding the cry for their country.

 
GIRLFRIDAY’S COMMENTS

A.MA.ZING.

That is perhaps the best ending I could have asked for. That it doesn’t end in victory, but an uprising, the start of a movement to keep fighting, against all odds? That a hero gives the people the means to fight for what’s theirs and walks as just one, among them? It’s beyond moving, and beyond fiction. I can’t stop crying. It felt like a glimpse into history—not the event, but the emotion, and the fervor that drove people to do exactly what Damsari described. It’s the egg against the rock—they face death, and yet they march ahead anyway. That average people rise up, willing to die for their country, knowing the uphill climb ahead… it just doesn’t get more powerful than that. Acting upon that metaphor was the perfect way to end the series. I expected as much, and yet it still moved me beyond what I could have imagined.

And what a perfect ending for Gaksital the symbol. It’s the best of heroic ideals: Kang-to doesn’t wield his strength or his power for himself, but shares it with the people. Rather than standing above them as a figurehead and a leader, he literally gives the identity of the gaksital over to them, to empower them to fight. You share your power, and you keep fighting, even in the face of certain death.

So rarely do I come across a show where each main character’s ending leaves me satisfied. It’s sad how rare that is. And there were certainly hiccups for other characters along the way in this series. But I loved every sendoff we got in this finale. Mok Dan’s death was the perfect final knife twist. Painful, but such good dramatic pain. Let’s face it—she was doomed the second she put on that white dress. That much, we knew. What’s crucial from a story standpoint is how she changes both the hero and the villain, even this late in the game. It’s searing, heartrending pain for both of them, but Kang-to lays her down, and continues to gather his will to fight from her, even when she’s gone. While Shunji, who more tragically never knew her love, is broken by her death past the point of recovery.

He wasn’t kidding when he called her his salvation—he let himself believe that if there was a chance he could be with her, he could return to his former self. That quite literally dies with her, and the tragic twist is, it dies by his own hand. It’s the perfect ending for his character, because I found myself feeling sorry for him just in time to feel the sock to the gut when he killed himself. I didn’t want Kang-to to have to kill him, because his breakdown and his choice to show mercy in the last episode was so moving. And even as Mok Dan died, I didn’t regret that choice he made. I loved that Rie tried to stop him, not for Shunji’s sake, but his own—Kang-to would never be the same if he had to kill Shunji. I think it would’ve broken him the way Mok Dan’s death broke Shunji. Shunji’s was, in some ways, the most poetic ending. Yunno… the dark, twisted tragic kind. But poetic nonetheless.

Rie’s sendoff was fantastic as well. I thought it so clever that we were in the same boat as she was—just waiting for the day she’d die, like it was inevitable. She had given up, we had given up; there was seemingly no hope for her. But I LOVE that she gets a second chance, and that once she really loses everything, she reclaims her Korean name and her painful past. I actually find the choice to give her a future, no matter how uncertain, the most hopeful of all the endings. She comes out of the rubble having found herself.

There were certainly some glaring faults with the series, like the repetition of one conflict, namely the secret identity, or the constant repetition of setups: guns drawn, no one gets hurt, whose turn is it in the torture chains today, the good guys get backed into a corner so easily it makes you tear out your hair, etc. etc. I do think the fault was namely with the writing on a plot-maneuvering level. The big epic heroic speeches, the larger movement, the huge shifts in character from the beginning of the series to the end? Awesome. The secret agent spy stuff? So simplistic a child could’ve thought it up. There was so little cloak in the cloak and dagger. Everything was so direct and obvious that you mostly wanted to sit the good guys down and make them watch a spy movie for inspiration and tips. But I do think that the directing was a standout—it smoothed over the seams between the moments of good writing and lazy writing. It took very simple written material and elevated everything to something incredibly visceral. The tension made my blood curdle, it was so good. And I thought it so fitting that a drama adapted from a comic book had such a strong visual flair. Every frame really looked like a cell out of a comic.

The cast was stellar, though Mok Dan was the weak link—she wasn’t bad, but she didn’t quite have the same range as the rest, which was a shame. I loved her as a character though, so I don’t think Jin Sae-yeon did wrong by the character. She just lacked layers—the stuff underneath the obvious emotion and written words. Joo-won and Park Ki-woong have to be hands-down the best hero-villain pair I’ve seen in a long time. Their friendship-to-bitter-enemies story was the heart of the series, and they really carried every moment of that emotion, whether it was rage, betrayal, longing, or heartbreak. Theirs is the relationship that hooked me, and the one that broke me in the end. I still find myself agape that a show would stick to its guns and go as dark as it did with both of these characters, from beginning to end. Standing ovation, Show. Standing O.

JAVABEANS’ COMMENTS

Tears.

Ohhh man, am I spent. This drama does powerful like nobody’s business.

The show deals with some pretty immense issues and draws on true events in history, so naturally some of that gravitas is built right into the premise. But we can’t overlook the talents of the crew on this one, for bringing it to life with such pathos and immediacy. There have been so many dramas and movies about equally dire historical events that don’t achieve this, as we know.

The show made me feel like these characters were real people living out these daily horrors. True, they’re based on real people, but I mean realism in an emotional, gut-level sense—the characters went beyond what they symbolized. They had their own agendas and weaknesses, and varying levels of loyalty to one cause or another. I’ve been impressed not only with the heroism of these characters, but also the drama’s depiction of those less brave. Just as a one-note villain wears thin, white-haloed good guys don’t offer as much depth either.

Thus the construction of the richness of its world is something the drama achieved particularly well. Which is really the best way to honor the complexity of real life. I think an overly simplified depiction of the conflict would have killed me, because I loved the blur of black and white, of love and hate, of cause and country. This drama so easily could have fallen back on the same old, same old, and I’m so grateful that it didn’t take the easy route. It may have gutted me emotionally, but man, did I love it.

I figured Mok Dan was doomed, and even felt her death would make a fitting turn on a narrative level. Let’s be honest, she was always most interesting in what she meant to everyone around her, and less so as a character in her own right. The question for me was always what the question of her life-death scenario would signify: Would it mark Shunji’s last shred of humanity to spare her (or rescue her, or let her go), or signal his complete ruin?

Alas, we know which side he fell on. As to the final showdown: I knew one of them had to die, and never was there a question that I wanted it to be Shunji, because, well, Kang-to just means too much. And if that had to be the standoff, then Shunji finding a shred of doubt—harking back to Damsari’s words that he’s lived his life wrong—and feeling remorse is the best way I could have hoped it would resolve. I don’t see redemption in Shunji’s death, but I do find it powerful that his final killing was one that relieved Kang-to’s burden, not added to it. For that I’m actually grateful.

So Mok Dan dies and it’s tragic, but I absolutely love Kang-to finding that will inside him to stand up and be strong anyway—honoring her dying wish. That encapsulates the drama’s whole point, doesn’t it?, about the spirit of the Korean people. You live out these daily horrors and you’re treated like a prisoner in your own native land, but you can choose to lie down and give up, or you can find that strength and carry on. As Tasha said previously, “in pain if you must, in longing if you must.”

History tells us that Korea didn’t find independence for another decade, but the people living in that time don’t know that—you fight for what you believe, not for assured victory. That’s something Mok Dan noted recently, and it bespeaks the spirit of the drama.

The fight goes on. And ultimately, what’s important isn’t who Gaksital is, as the drama’s final, powerful scene shows us. You’re all Gaksital, you’re all living in oppression, and you’re all fighting together. I love that: Unity, solidarity, independence.

 
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344 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. sherry

    first? thanks for the recaps!

    • 1.1 Dominique

      Did Episode 28 get the year of Pearl Harbor wrong? Never mind, I got Park Gi Woong out of Gaksital, and that is all it takes to reward me for the time I invested in watching Gaksital. This thespian carried the drama till the end. Alone.

      Gaksital the drama accomplished two additional things for me. First, it put North Korea’s juche in historical context, which I now regard with fresh admiration. (Sorry, I still do not like North Korea. Communism does not sit well with me.)

      There is no reason to believe that the Day of National Shame (August 27) will be a one-time deal. Moreover, it was not some fictitious Dongjin commando that liberated Chosun from Imperial Japan. (It was the twin A-bombs that the US dropped on the Japanese archipelago.) As nations surrounding East & South China Sea rush to (re-)armaments today, it is wise to remember that history does repeat itself.

      Second, Gaksital led me to discover through research that the extent of active, voluntary collaboration between Japanese rulers and Chosun people went far deeper and wider than I previously imagined. I cringed as I watched two episodes of Gaksital that dealt with comfort women, in which Gaksital presented that Chosun people from top to bottom carried out, often knowingly, recruitment of comfort women under false pretense.

      After liberation of Chosun by the Allied Force in 1945, some Chosun collaborators did get what they deserved but many did not. I do not mean to call for identifying individual collaborators at this stage and shaming them (or their descendants) in public, most of whom are long dead anyway. Rather, I argue that the fact should not be buried under the carpet simply because it is an inconvenient truth. Even France, a proud & arrogant nation that supposedly could not do anything wrong, was made to confront her shameful history of Nazi collaboration under Vichy.

      As Japan renews its territorial claims against South Korean islets and reasserts its cultural/moral/historical claims against South Korea and her people, I regard this as a godsend that can and should make South Korea better and stronger. (Have you heard? In the last few days, two bond-rating agencies gave South Korea a rate higher than what they have given Japan and China.)

      I know some commenters have weak stomach for anything that is not an outright flattery. Well, this is not Korea-bashing, although some will undoubtedly attempt to characterize my comment as such. But why not focus on the message, rather than the messenger?

      • 1.1.1 danny

        this drama is bad, bad, bad timing, what does it hope to gain? Extreme Nationalism, Extreme Patriotism. I agree history is an integral part of our being but if History is learned like this, i’m afraid the emotionally weak and emotionally governed individuals might stand on this heap of hatred. Korean hating Japanese or Japanese hating Koreans. We are now in the present 21st century but still sentiments fueled by Awesome Gaksital will unleash a new wave of regrets , unforgiveness, and revenge. sigh, I pray not, with Doekdo, I really pray not!

        • 1.1.1.1 Jenny

          Honestly when this drama was announced I was worried about the result it could possibly in the worst case scenario give. Already starting from elementary school they teach children to hate Japan and the Japanese. There has been drawing competitions that consist of how is the best way to get rid of Japan and it’s people and the drawings were displayed at subway stations in Seoul.
          Nationalism and patriotism are separate things and this is something that often is not separated in SKorea.
          I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the cast has developed “unfriendly” feelings towards Japan.
          Both Korea and Japan are still at a standoff regarding many issues and I doubt this drama will help them settle that matter.

          • 1.1.1.1.1 jin

            How do also accountil for all the racism faced in Japan by Zainichi Korean if u r asking for Koreans to move on why aren’t u. Afterall it was a Japanese member of Parliament who during a visit to Korea defaced a statue honoring comfort women. It is the current PM of Japan claiming there is no proof of comfort women being enslaved or rape. As for the “apologies” even an American journalist writing for the Japanese times called it ambiguous at best. In addition how is teaching history inciting hatred against Japan. So should Americans stop teaching about the Holocaust and close the holocaust museum because the Germans might feel bad or should the US or rest of Europe stop teaching about the slave trade because that is inciting hatred against White people. As for your previous comment about being afraid to visit Korea with your kids. The Japanese lawmaker who defaced and insulted the comfort woman statue was left unmolested. A Korean protesting the burial of 14 class A War criminals at a Japanese shrine honoring Japanese soldiers was savagely attacked.

          • 1.1.1.1.2 jin

            Cont from comment below. In addition there was a case in the US where the German government demanded and went to trial to extradite an 81 year old because they discovered he was a camp guard at a Nazi death camp. The Germans themselves are hunting down Nazi war criminals even now to put on trial for war crimes and Holocaust denials is a crime in Germany along with hate speech. In the US hate speech against African American is considered a crime with serious consequences and certainly no one denies the Jim Crow era or distorts history with respect to slavery or discrimination in US history books. Yet in Japan I see stories of Korean elementary schools being attacked during the day time a 8 year old ethnically Korean kids cowering in fear while Japanese adults r trying to break into the school. Even the New York Times covered the story. Please stop trying to distort the story and if u r serious first deal with the rampant racism in your country. As an aside it was a Japanese American friend of my who after coming back to the US who told me how shocked he was by the racism against Koreans he found in Japan. How he was told to stay away from Koreans because they r a thugs and criminals or prostitutes. Even then after the Fukashima incident it was the comfort women themselves who went on national television stating that they would postpone their weekly protest because Japan was going through hardship hence we should hate the sin but not sin and pleaded with Koreans to help Japan at which we sent over several hundred search and rescue personnel, diverted enough LPG tankers to supply Japan with energy, and donated 10s of millions of dollars. Please hatred against Japan you have got to be kidding me.

        • 1.1.1.2 Roma

          Well! I do not think the past pain will back again to both nations. I believe that the both countries had already enough pain the the past and the people from both countries become aware about that

        • 1.1.1.3 piaaa

          Is being too patriotic and nationalistic is THAT bad? Is having an identity is that bad? If Japan Imperialism was done with integrity and justice do you think they would have gone through that rebellion? These people suffered horrible things that you would not imagine would happen in your life, my grandparents live in that era and I would not blame them if they still have grudge in Japan. And for another note, how could they forgive them if they didn’t even ask for forgiveness? Like what Germans did?

          I don’t felt any hatred or anger with Japan when I’m studying our history. Our teachers and grandparents would even told us stories DETAILED, which is more horrible than what is shown in this drama. And I applaud them for that.

          And I agree with what MUMU said that this drama is NOT about nationalism. But liberty and justice.

          • 1.1.1.3.1 Jenny

            Japan has apologized several times so has the current emperor ,who also every year at the anniversary of the end of WWII makes more public apologies and most likely he will continue to do it until he dies.
            I do think being to nationalistic is a problem, that leads to more hate and towards aggression that is still visible towards the Japanese.
            Certain things are just wrong, it’s wrong to teach children to hate a country. I have never heard of elementary school students in Israel being taught to hate the Germans unlike what they do in Korea. After the tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan, many Koreans were happy. China who also suffered the occupation never made any statements how happy they were of the deaths.
            My country was also occupied and suffered but we have never been taught to hate our former occupier who never apologized for their wrongdoings
            Yes this drama is fictive and about a freedom fighter but how easy it is for many of the anti-Japanese organisations that exist in Korea to use the drama and it’s cast as a way to get more power over the youth.

          • 1.1.1.3.2 piaaa

            Then why they do not teach the Japanese students about the truth about their history. It would only makes sense if they did that.

            What Gaksital just shown was just the truth about their history. Of what happened during Japanese occupation. It’s like any other sageuk but the only different is, it deals with Japanese Imperialism era.

            And I do not agree that this drama is anti-japan because if that so then there’s no Korean people who will sold their own country just for their own sake. Japan should have just occupy them through force. Like what they did in my country.

            And The show did not go Japanese=bad, Koreans=good. notbeen There’s Abe, a Japanese but a kindhearted guy. And Shunji. The old Shunji who loves Joseon more than his own if only he did not fell in love to a Joseon girl and felt betrayed by his own bestfriend he would’ve not gone to the dark side. But even if he was. At the he’s still conflicted and regretful for what he’s done. The reson why I cannot hate him.

          • 1.1.1.3.3 Mumu

            @Jenny
            So sad. I don’t know what people on the earth could be happy for the death of lots of people… I feel so bad. But I have to say this. Right after the Tsunami, Korea held the fund-raising campaign voluntarily in large scale on the TV live show, in universities & lots of private organizations. The amount of money collected was so much bigger than general fund collected for disaster in Korea. So not all the Korean were happy for tsunami, at least.

            And APOLOGY. I think if they really intended to apologize for their bad history, Japanese government should have not say something like “Comfort Women volunteered for their ‘job’ and were treated well” or “Japan helped Joseon to be developed during the occupation”. Apologize ambiguously and deny it right after? Please give opportunity to Korea to accept apology.

            I think the past should be treated well, (not be ignored or overheat), to make a good current & future relationship between Japan and Korea. Hate only recreates hate. Japanese think Korean hate them, so they hate Korean. And the revers is also true.
            I really hope that Japan apologize sincerely and Korea accept that gently (because accepting apology clearly is not easy as apology itself). And no hate ever..

        • 1.1.1.4 Awe

          For me, patriotism is a righteous pride. Patriotism teaches us to protect ideals and people. I like dramas that weave bits of history because it builds pride and awareness. Many of us are concerned about what are young are learning…exposing them to history allows opportunities to discuss war, ancestors, veterans, wrong-doings, karma and hopefully love. Let’s love, teach and trust the youth.

        • 1.1.1.5 Gina

          My thoughts exactly, augmented by the fact that KBS, the network that airs Gaksital, seems to have some bias in the Dokdo issue. I toured their studio in Seoul recently and was surprised to see a giant TV screen in their lobby which only shows images of Dokdo island. There is also a large poster of Dokdo on the wall at the end of the tour, making Dokdo the first and last image you see.

          What’s interesting is that KBS is an inherently political organization – it’s the only Korean broadcasting network funded partly by the Korean government. The president of KBS is also designated by the president of South Korea and board members of KBS may be selected by political parties.

          I don’t want to think that Gaksital was aired as propaganda to stir up nationalistic sentiment, but KBS’ political position on Dokdo gives some evidence to the theory. Hopefully people will be moved by this drama’s amazing plot and characters, and not by its anti-Japanese undertones!

          • 1.1.1.5.1 Gina

            My first comment was responding to danny by the way – in response to Awe’s comment above, I agree that it’s important for young people to be exposed to their history, and fiction based on history is great for getting them interested in it. However, historical events should be presented without bias, otherwise it’s a distortion of the truth and not actually history. That’s why I believe that Gaksital should be appreciated as a drama and not as a documentary of Korea under Japanese occupation.

      • 1.1.2 Waca

        I haven’t watched Gaksital, I only read a few recaps, so I can’t answer to your comments, but I’ll keep them in mind when I watch the drama. Thanks for these interesting comments.

        I have a question though. Are you French?

        • 1.1.2.1 Waca

          Because I have to say, I don’t like your comment about France.
          “Even France, a proud & arrogant nation that supposedly could not do anything wrong, was made to confront her shameful history of Nazi collaboration under Vichy.”

          1- proud & arrogant nation…there’re many countries we could call like this, so I don’t see the purpose of calling France like that.

          2- “Was made to confront her shameful history”? Why “was made”? They did it themselves, and even too much imo.

          3- I believe that just like the French Resistance did not free France from the nazis by themselves, but all thanks to the Allies’ help, that the fictitious Dongjin commando isn’t supposed to free Korea either in this drama. I don’t think the purpose of this drama was to say that they freed Korea from the Japanese all by themselves, but it honors the independence movements and I do think that’s a good thing. People are not stupid. Everybody knows the Japanese Empire ended with the bombs.

          Just saying.

      • 1.1.3 KK

        I understand why you dislike North Korea but I don’t think many people don’t actually know what’s going on there. I’m not bashing, btw, I just reckon people don’t know what’s going on & judging based on the North Korean government :D I’m just informing, yeah? (:
        Yes, the government is terrible. Yes commusism isn’t good. As a South Korean, I absolutely hate the GOVENRMENT but many people don’t realise how many North Koreans are in poverty ): Poverty in North Korea is probably the worst in the world and its heartbreaking thinking of the many many many people dying of hunger (I think there was a famine some time this year or last year so people in cities would’ve suffered as well) and not knowing there’s a place in the world where they can be free and live happy lives ): I don’t want to go on and on about this so I’ll stop here :D It’s just terrible we can’t help out ><

        • 1.1.3.1 Ditu3ka

          I don´t know what is exactly going in North Korea but I am sure it´s nothing pleasant. I lived in Communism in Europe and trust me, you really don´t want to know all those stories. But I have to say that life in NK would be similar to my country after WW2. I was born in 80´s so Communism was in full parade but we didn´t live in such a terrible conditions in North Koreans today. We didn´t have freedom but he weren´t starving either. Anayway I would never ever want to live in those times again.

        • 1.1.3.2 Ae

          this
          It always irritates me when people hate all of north Korea because of the government
          Do you people not understand that the majority of north Koreans are in poverty smh

      • 1.1.4 Mumu

        I read some of your comments before, and I think you are toooooo political for this drama. Now you replied to the first comment only to make your political opinion get bigger influence to the others…

        “Moreover, it was not some fictitious Dongjin commando that liberated Chosun from Imperial Japan. (It was the twin A-bombs that the US dropped on the Japanese archipelago.)”
        YES, and I remember you said that before too. But I don’t know what you mean by that. So do you think it depreciate Independence Movement? Dongjin was fictitious but there were so many independence movements and armies for whole 35 years, you can’t deny it. Independence with and WITHOUT history of resistance… It’s totally different thing, you know…

        I don’t think this drama is saying nationalism. It’s about liberty and justice.

        • 1.1.4.1 Maru

          Not only that, but the history of Korea and World War II is super complicated to just say that it was the A bombs (one of the worst thing that happen in WWII, in my eyes. Specially when Japan was already destroyed by the incendiary bombs) where the cause for Korean liberation.

          It’s impossible to say that Korea’s Independence was only achieved by EU.

          • 1.1.4.1.1 zodd

            At least we all can agree that it was a good thing that the Japanese got their asses whooped by U.S. Shame though war criminals got away scott free, including the Japanese Emperor which should’ve been executed. At the very least Japan has been put on a tight leash by the U.S. making sure they won’t cause shit in Asia ever again.

          • 1.1.4.1.2 Maru

            Sorry to reply you 10 days later, but no.

            Whooping out, as you called it, a whole country and its citizens is not a good thing for me. A lot of people died and, like you said, they weren’t the war criminals and the real culprits in the whole situation. That’s like an Arab saying that what the terrorists did in 9/11 was for a better future. No, it wasn’t, when things like this happen is always the innocent who pay, not the one making the political and war decisions.

            “The Japan has been put on a tight leash by the US”—- what da fuck? Off to die from second hand embarrassment.

      • 1.1.5 missjb

        @dominique: agreed on PKW’s part. All cast were good, but amongs all the main cast, Park Ki Woong’s acting is the standout the most. Though, it helped he gets a juicy roles and best character in Gaksital. I hope he gets many award for this drama. He deserves recognition way more than any main cast in Gaksital.

  2. Ivoire

    Thanks!

    • 2.1 Ivoire

      I am off to read, I will post my comments afterwards…

    • 2.2 Ivoire

      WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!! This drama remained intense and emotional till the very end, and it ended appropriately imho.

      Some commenters and I were suspecting that MDR would die, and I guess we were right. Her death made the show more dramatic but I guess it also allowed the show to focus on its main characters: LKT and Shunji by getting MDR out of the way. That could have been predicted as well. The show at the end brought the drama to one of its main points: the relationship between LKT and Shunji and their emotional and psychological journeys through betrayals, manipulations, killings and revenge. All of that taking place during the occupation of one’s country (Shunji’s) of another (LKT’s), showcasing how it affected both of them and the choices they each made.

      I anticipated that MDR would die, but I wasn’t sure how Shunji would react/handle it. I was a little surprised to see him hurt over it, saying that he actually never meant to kill her (although he did say it as well in episode 27). I just wasn’t sure as to whether to believe him or not. He seemed to really be in pain over her death (not being able to drive and crying in his office), and I thought it was interesting to see that it was one the things he wanted till the very end. Shunji wanted MDR for himself (as is he could own her somehow) and he wanted LKT dead, for a long time.
      Part of me wonders if he really loved her or if he just wanted her for himself. I don’t understand how you can profess to love someone, and yet hurt almost everyone associated with that person, as if she would not be hurt in the process. What did he think he could offer her in the end, really? (And I am not being sarcastic).

      I was also a little surprised to see that Spy Girl (Gye-Soon) turned around and joined the Independence cause. Maybe Shunji almost killing her opened her eyes and helped in her decision to switch sides. It was nice to see her redeem herself in the end.

      I wasn’t sad to see Ueno Hideki gone (on the contrary) and I believed that he had it coming. Rie’s plea to LKT to let Shunji live was touching, and part of me wondered if she did that because Shunji had let her live when he had the chance to kill her. In the end, it’s not that Shunji and Rie were friends, but they seemed to have protected each other. Did you guys wondered (as I did) if Rie was asking Shunji (or offering him) to be in a relationship with her, when they were on the phone? (I am not sure how else to interpret that).

      So many last farewells in this episode: Rie and Katsyuama (very moving, with him pleading to the end for her to take him and let him be around her, so sad :-(), Shunji and LKT, LKT and MDR (as she was dying).

      I expected Shunji and LKT to die, but I was surprised by how Shunji died. It seemed as if the show wanted to redeem Shunji (to a certain extent) by having him kill himself. Many of us thought he had gone to the other side (the dark side) and was a lost cause. I was left wondering if at the end, he realized how much pain and suffering he had inflicted to so many people and felt that he deserved to die.

      I wasn’t totally sure what to make of how Shunji decided to die. It wasn’t LKT talking to him, because when he kills himself, we realize that that was what he was planning to do all along. My heart stopped for a minute when LKT turned his back as he was walking out. I was afraid that Shunji might have shot him then. LKT shed a tear when Shunji killed himself, he still cared about his former friend (also demonstrated by the fact that he had a hard time eating when he thought of Shunji, after he killed his dad). I thought it was interesting that the last person left to grieve for Shunji was his Korean nanny. She probably never suspected how evil he had turned over time.

      I really loved the ending. The contrast between the occupiers chanting “Banzai” (I think) inside and the mansei taking place outside. The police being overtaken by the people of the Independence movement (they didn’t even know where to shot), and everyone being Gaksital in the end, having an equal responsibility in the fight to regain their country. They always did share the same burden and each of their efforts mattered, but it was nice to see more people rally and realize that they could each do something about the country they love so much.

      LKT came full circle: he started out hated by his people and spat on (and alone), and ended up being surrounded by his people, as an accepted and proud member of his community. I was relieved to see LKT alive till the very end. I wasn’t totally sure what to expect for the ending of this drama.

      The ending was indeed EPIC!!!! And so was the drama as well, imho. My hats off to Joo Won, PKW and the rest of the actors/actresses, staff and crew. I hope they will all get a much deserved rest. They worked really hard and it showed. What a big production, this drama was and it paid off and delivered!!!!! They were some talented people in this drama, in front of and behind the scenes.

      • 2.2.1 Ivoire

        Oh, and thank you as always, JB and GF for the recaps and the analysis.

      • 2.2.2 MaryElenaMz

        yes the end was EPIC!

  3. Maya

    Gaksital, you trampled on my heart and left me bleeding on the floor today!
    But death toll aside, the ending was epic! I got goosebumps seeing all those people taking up their own collective responsibility and shake off their fears to depose their dictators. It definitely delivers the essence of the drama. Can’t wait to see how Kang To will fight them all from now on… Why isn’t it Wednesday already?!! *going into denial*

    • 3.1 Ivoire

      Hi Maya,

      This: “Why isn’t it Wednesday already?!! *going into denial*” WOW, you are in denial :-). Should I try and pick up your heart? Could I? (What’s left of it)…

      • 3.1.1 Arhazivory

        lol. Her denial almost had me doubting that the series ended.

        • 3.1.1.1 Maya

          What do you mean the series ended, Arhazivory? They’re just starting the uprising…. *I’m so going all Shunji-in-the-forest mode now*

          • 3.1.1.1.1 Ivoire

            OOOOH, let’s slowly step away from Maya now, she is becoming scary. Don’t do that Maya, or Gaksital will never forgive you :-)… (Hopefully, that will calm her down).

        • 3.1.1.2 Ivoire

          Right? Seriously :-). I too doubted for one second. Shame on you, Maya *wag my finger in Maya’s face* :-)

        • 3.1.1.3 Ivoire

          @ Maya and @ Yammy,

          All I can think of is offering you some virtual hugs, which I am generously sending… I hope you will receive them and will feel the pat I am giving you on the back as well. Hang in tough ladies, this too shall pass.
          It is nice however to have such an experience with a drama, isn’t it?

          • 3.1.1.3.1 yammy

            awww thanks
            hugs and cries T.T

            Why couldn’t mok dan + kang to have beautiful babies like yang baek told them too? I want 10 beautiful kangto jr. and mok dan jrs, all smirking and saying “bingo!” and then growing up and marrying off deuk soo + sunhwa’s kids! kdjf oh gaksital.

            my poor roommate. has to deal with me moaning randomly the whole day.

            Any BTS or interviews to help mend my broken heart? I want a variety show with a Gaksital special!!! /COUGH 1N2D COUGH/.

            JB and GF, thank you for your recaps that allowed me to re- live the moments of the drama and create a place for discussion on dramabeans. I’ll see you guys again when some drama as awesome as Gaksital comes (/cough/ anything the any of the leads + the actor who plays damsari do)

      • 3.1.2 Maya

        Hi Iv,
        Yes I think I would need help to pick up my Gaksital-shaped mound of heart-pieces. Reading the recap had me in tears again. It’s heartbreaking and so awesome at the same time… The picture montages at the end just killed me..

        • 3.1.2.1 yammy

          i too need help picking up the broken pieces of my heart.
          ahhhhhhhhh what am i going to do without gaksital?? T.T

          • 3.1.2.1.1 Maya

            @Ivoiry, yammy, and everyone else who needs a hug right now… let’s have a big virtual group hug! *hugs*

            I never knew I have so much emotions when watching a drama until this one…

          • 3.1.2.1.2 Ivoire

            I am hugging you guys back *hugs*

        • 3.1.2.2 Lindiriel

          I think reading this beautiful and lovingly-written recap had me in more tears than the actual episode (which I watched first). Then again, I’m probably only a Korean level 1 listener, so getting to read what they were actually saying here *would* be more affecting.

          Heartbreaking and awesome is right. I should have waited on the Dramabeans recap to read reactions first–way too much rage about the ending elsewhere on the web. The perspectives here make it easier to see the power and beauty of the finale.

      • 3.1.3 mojobobo

        It’s time for us now to start that petition for Park Ki Woong to go on 1N2D…

        • 3.1.3.1 Maya

          I’m sooo gonna sign that petition!

          • 3.1.3.1.1 yammy

            How about PKW and Shin hyun joon? and maybe the actor who played Abe all in 1N2D!!

          • 3.1.3.1.2 Maya

            I want to see the casts on Happy Together as well though, but I think they never invited any guests after the show ended. Probably Running Man, but then again Gaksital’s average ratings were only half of Moon/Sun’s so they might not gonna be invited there. But… was HJW invited because of TK2HS?
            I sooo need to watch something light and fun with the casts in it.

            @yammy: you can check this page: http://www.facebook.com/bridalmaskdrama
            Maybe it will help during the withdrawal period… The admin hasn’t updated the page yet for the new BTS/photos etc because some people complaint about spoilers (which left me scratching my head tbh, it’s a fanpage so it supposed to have everything related to gaksital, even spoilers, if they don’t want to read spoilers then don’t join the page). But you can keep checking it. :)

    • 3.2 Maya

      I almost forgot, thanks Javabeans and Girlfriday for your awesome and insightful recaps. It certainly had made the experience of watching this show so much better. And also thanks for everyone else who often shared their thoughts on drama, and also imparted their knowledge and opinions on the history/issues related to the drama. I definitely appreciated and enjoyed reading ‘the food for the thoughts’ parts.

      Gaksital definitely topped my dramas’ list so far. Sure the show has its moments of logic lapses and flaws, but the story gripped me from the beginning to the end, the characters are compelling, the plot advanced at breakneck speed, it kept me at the edge of my seat every week, and the ending delivers. And that’s all I’m asking.

  4. Jlee

    Thanks!

  5. stars4u

    I had goosebumps watching the episode and it didn’t go away even after 1 hour since the live stream ended.

    The pictures in the credits was just… it’s really the end.
    It was a wonderful journey!

    • 5.1 redfox

      I got goosebumps from the scene of tea-drinking the most. how just a few movements of hands or look from the eyes just tells a whole epic. oh my god. has drinking tea ever been so intense? I was going crazy. Poor Kang To. He regretted losing a friend the most. No matter how poor he used to be, he had a friend. Without friends, he was completely poor, so he had nothing to lose.

      awww Katsuyama come to me. but I feel that this request has never been more in vain. This guy is devoted to one woman only. He will probably become a monk now. Shave his locks and all.

      I want to repeat: energy hugs to everyone who made this show, especially Joo Won and Park Ki Woong, please take a rest before moving on to your next project. AND I WANNA SEE YOU TWO IN A FULL LENGHT MOVIE TOGETHER!!!!

    • 5.2 Maya

      Hi stars4u, are you the same stars4u from viki? I kinda noticed your name from the credit. Anyway if you are the same person, I just want to say thank you to you and everyone else who have worked hard to deliver a speedy subs almost every episode. You guys are awesome… :)
      –was going to post this on viki, but it didn’t let me do it, so I might just do it here :)

      • 5.2.1 stars4u

        Yep, the same stars4u.
        I just helped a bit… The team was an amazing one.

    • 5.3 mojobobo

      my first reaction to the end was “WHAT? That’s it?” Then the credits rolled and I cried all over again. When they showed the picture of all four leads smiling happily and KangDan still in their wedding attire, I felt cheated. Then they flashed Shunji when he was still a teacher and my heart broke all over again.

  6. Chillyperson

    Amazing ending! Thanks JB and GF for the recap :)

  7. MeeisLee

    I haven’t finished watching the episode but from the get-go it’s intense. I’ve been predicting a Hamlet-esque ending (which would seem true from the first 5mins). I shall read the recap and finish this ep and then contemplate if I’m mentally capable of doing the rest of my hw.

    • 7.1 MeeisLee

      I’m finally back to comment, a couple days after I finished the episode so the passion has worn off a bit. That also means I don’t have much to say, so once brevity will be my friend (or maybe not).

      This drama was amazing. I’m glad I decided to watched after peeping the rants and raves over the initial episodes. It immediately hooked me when I got to watching it (Week 2 of broadcast) despite not being super interested in the premise. I didn’t really anticipate any historical brewing or reignited flames of hatred or tension, probably because I didn’t know the history between Japan and Korea that well (my knowledge extended somewhere between a kimchi issue and that Japan tried to take over Asia around/during WWII). It was a nice ride and history lesson.

      It makes me wonder how close Gaksital is to actual events. In fact, I just might do my 20th century research paper on the topic of the Occupation and Japan and Korea tension and the portrayal of history through a present-day media creation (Gaksital, the drama). It sounds like it would be fun but I would probably need help considering I’ll be doing research and re-watching Gaksital many times (for the sake of my paper, ofc).

  8. Maru

    Oh my god. I was like an addict waiting for you guys to post!!! (I think I was not the only one!)

    I’ll comment after I read the recap!

    • 8.1 Maru

      Well, what can I say? This episode had me in tears for almost an hour. Reading the recap and watching the screenshots almost made me cry again.

      We all knew Mok Dan was the one to die first. I knew she was doomed the moment Shunji claimed her as his only salvation. Like I said before, Shunji needed to lose Mok Dan for him to accept that he choose the wrong path, that nothing he did was worth it. I needed him to realize that… the only way for him to understand that was, either he kills Mok Dan or he took everything away from her (Kang To included) and she suicide. I always thought the first choice was the best. So, yes, Mok Dan death was horrible and I wanted a happy ending for Kang To, but this is not the drama to get that ending. You hurt with this, but it feels right.

      Like GF said, we all though, from the beginning of the drama, that Rie was doomed… for most of us, she was slowly walking to a certain death. It was great how she was send off! I actually LOVED her relationship with Shunji, that mutual understanding and care (not in a loving way) for each other was amazing to watch.

      Kang To, I LOVE YOU. That’s all I’m going to say. Joo Won deserves a standing ovation for his portraying of Lee Kang To. I hope he keeps choosing characters dramas to become an even better actor. All my love for him.

      Shunji… I’m gonna get real here. I can’t say that I feel any kind of empathy for him. That flew out of the window a few episodes back, but I actually cried for him when he was talking with Kang To. The moment our Gaksital starts naming every single person who died at the hands of him, I could see him drop the denial phase he had with Mok Dan’s death and really beginning to realize who he had become. Not only Mok Dan’s death, but everything he had done. (sigh) It was such a good moment. Park Ki-woong also killed it with his acting! Standing ovation for him too.

      Finally, and trying to keep this as short as I can, all I have to say is that this is one of my favorite shows this year, you have a special corner in my heart beside Shut Up Flower Boy Band and Anwer me 1997.

      Gaksital was not a perfect show, but still, it took my heart, play with it and left me without tears (and I’m not a person who cries easily) and kept me surprised and with my jaw on the floor most of the time, even with some plots going in circles… that right there is wonderful and I can’t ask for more.

      Also, it was amazing to watch this and be able to pour my thoughts here to share it with people who love this show too. Great experience!

  9. Lilly

    Great show from start to finish.
    Definitely on list of best shows to recommend to others to watch.

  10. 10 HeadsNo2

    Perfect. Just perfect.

  11. 11 Arhazivory

    GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!!!

    Gaksitaaaaaaaaal! Gaksitaaaaaaaaal!!

    My new wallpaper is that closing scene. Beautiful. I loved everything about the last episode. I love how Kang To got up after hearing that horrid news. I love how he confronted Shunji with ‘wait…you think I’m here for Mok Dan?’ I love the final conversation with Rie and how she proudly took back her heritage.

    But what I love most of all, is that last scene. Tearjerking, emotion inducing, beautiful scene. Perfect. Gaksital gave me no complaints. This drama was perfect.

    And now I’ll go read your perfect recap GF. :D

  12. 12 Noemi

    Oh, wow! What an ending! I have to admit that I have not necessarily enjoyed Gaksital–sooo emotionally draining–but boy oh boy did I admire Gaksital! Truly inspirational.

  13. 13 Dewo

    Okay, it’s over. Now I will start watching it. I’ve been holding myself too hard from reading recaps and comment. Now, let’s rhe sweet torment begin. Thank you dramabeans, I will read all the recaps after watching each episodes.

  14. 14 hi-there

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR RECAPPING THIS AMAZING AMAZING AMAZZZZZZZZZZZING DRAMA! :D *thunderous clapping*

    needless to say, i was a blubbering mess when it came to the end.

    i also think this was the first time i ever cried while eating pasta. ;___; (the part where Boss Jo clung onto Shunji’s leg! OMGGGAHHHHH~) T___T

  15. 15 dduk

    beautiful and satisfying ending!

  16. 16 Sho

    The ending was SPECTACULAR. As mentioned, the citizens uprising to show that they are all united to free Korea from Japan was a move that even KT’s brother KS would have loved to see.

    He probably would have never thought things will end this way, and boy if there was a Heaven for him in Gaksital, he would be proud of his brother and what he has accomplished since he wore his mask.

    My only con to this was that, the aftermath of Kishokai and what happened after Shunji’s death for Jung Ro seemed dull. Wada and Murayama didn’t even seemed one bit off that they just lost their Kishokai leader and their SI of Jung Ro. It would of been nice to see Koiso in anguish after losing Kenji and Shunji but we only get to see him pretty much take charge on getting everyone ready against the Uprising (which at first I thought theyd massacre the citizens till the explosions came out at end).

    I feel sorry for seeing Abe there, I totally thought he would drop out of the Police Station sometime inthe last 2 episodes to go to KT because he just doesn’t seem to cut it as a police officer. He’s way too nice for being one, and his obedience is still towards KT as Lieutenant than anyone in the entire Poilce Organization.

    All in all very nice, This years drama selections have been very supurb with QIHM and now Gaksital being one of my favorites and at least in my top 5 from all the dramas I’ve watched.

  17. 17 SoyJade

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS SHOW!! (sorry for the screaming. Just trying to emphasize :)

    Of course it was not perfect and while I was watching this last episode I was wondering: “Why don’t they watch men?”, “Why don’t they have protective traps or anything to increase their own security? You know, they are high risk/wanted people here!. It bothered me that they were caught with rice midair and their pants down?…. still I loved this last episode. I was crying, laughing and simply,incredibly grateful for having had the pleasure of watching such an amazing, well written, directed, acted, etc, etc, story.

    Lastly, thank you so much to Javabeans and Girlfriday for the recaps. Without those, I do not think I would have been able to enjoy or understand the show as well as I did. I learned so much from this show about a piece of Korea’s history. I am from Latin America and if there is one thing we know is, ocupation and the suffering and discrimination it causes. It was nice to have this extra (even if it’s a sad one) with a country on the other side of the world. I felt that connection helped me feel more involved with the show and the feelings it created.

    Thanks again.

  18. 18 stellar

    AHHHHHH IT’S HEREEEEE!!!!! *reads through my fingers covering my eyes*

  19. 19 ___

    This drama was so beautiful…

  20. 20 Vanessa

    TEARS </3 i wish they could have lived together AHHH :( BUT THIS DRAMA WAS SO EPIC AND AWESOME <3

  21. 21 queencircles

    I’m so sad it’s ooooooovaaaar. :-(

    I thought Shunji’s end was perfect. I didn’t see it coming, but I liked it. I loved that Kang-to mention not only Mok-dan, but all the deaths that Shunji was responsible for, and the relief on his face afterwards. Their relationship made the show. Serious bravo to those two actors, they killed it.

    I’ll forever love Gaksitaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!!! And Damsari lol ;-)

  22. 22 JoAnne

    Across the web forlorn voices can be heard, raised in one unending cry: Gaksitaaaaaaaaaaal!

  23. 23 Brenda

    Wow, that finale was just EPIC to say the least!

    I honestly don’t remember the last time I shed so many tears for a drama as I did for this one.
    What struck me was definitely the ending. As they marched towards the station I got a huge mixture of tears, difficulty breathing and goosebumps.
    Dramas with so much depth and emotion only come once every while and I am glad I didn’t miss it!!

    Thank you so much to Javabeans and Girlfriday for recapping this magnificent drama for all of us!!!!

  24. 24 Maggie

    I’m amazingly glad that Gaksital ended it not only by getting every single character a perfect sendoff, but also keeping it in historical context that the war is still not over. This was the best ending that Gaksital could have gotten without running amok from predetermined history. Huzzah! I hope another drama series written as poignant as this one surfaces soon!

  25. 25 Mawiie

    That ending was just perfect on so many levels. Call me bloodthirsty, but at this point, I wouldn’t have been satisfied with a “simple” happy ending (ex: mission succeed and the OTP go back in the countryside after to raise kids and live a simple life). All the characters were too far gone to go back to who they were. This ending was sad, but it was also hopeful and realistic given the reality of that period of history.

    On the other hand… Was Asuka Hotel just in front of the police station all this time? LOL

    • 25.1 kdramapedia

      LOL, I noticed that, too. And the Angel Club across the street. The entire city takes up only one city block, of course. Is it not like that in real life? =P

  26. 26 Marni

    Glorious ending! So happy that Kangto did not die. Shunji was a big shocker, Katsuyama a hero. Amazing drama.

  27. 27 news

    I’m still watching episode 26 but it’s hilarious that they’re always doing the secret head nod!

  28. 28 kdramapedia

    This show was absolutely amazing. It never hesitated to “go there” at any moment in time, and I felt like I stepped back in history and lived with them. The character growth between everyone, especially our male leads, is what kept bringing me back for more.

    And how awesome is it that a drama can make you feel sympathy (however brief and fleeting) for a bad guy when he shoots himself. The previous scene with Kang-To and Shinji sitting down together for the last time was just so powerful. I love it.

    This drama was so moving from start to finish and I’m glad that the people involved in making it were so dedicated to making it awesome.

    No, no, I’m not crying, there’s just something in my eye. *grabs tissue box*

    • 28.1 Lilly

      Yeah, the character development for the guys was pretty deep. It starts with both being born as heroes as children, taking risks to save others, then shows how situations and family shaped them differently.

      • 28.1.1 kdramapedia

        Oh wow, I’d almost forgotten about their childhoods and how they were heroes in small, but important ways.

        It especially rings true for Shunji who had the makings of a leader and a hero, but used all that energy for evil. Damsari was right about both Shunji and Kang-To wasting their efforts fighting on the side of Japan. At least he was able to get through to Kang-To before it was too late.

        That’s another thing I enjoyed about this show. There’s two people who had the same level of smarts, leadership ability, and fighting ability, but based on their circumstances and their reactions to said circumstances, took completely different paths.

        Wow, show, just wow.

        • 28.1.1.1 Lindiriel

          Hmm, yeah I had forgotten that too. And it’s interesting–even then as a child, even though we agree with him at the time, Shunji steals what is clearly someone else’s in order to get what he wants.

          And right after Kangto promises he’ll be there for her (with the knife as children, and with wedding vows as adults), he sees Mok Dan get killed (though the first time she really didn’t of course) and he’s powerless to intervene both times.

          Wow, show. Just wow.

      • 28.1.2 redfox

        that somehow reminds me the quote from White Christmas: are monsters born or made?

    • 28.2 tapioca pearl

      Totally true about feeling like you’ve stepped back in history. I absolutely loved getting swept up in this time period, and it’s a shame not a lot of dramas take place during this time. At the same time, it’s a blessing because it’s only once in a while, we get an amazing show like this. Stories like these are rare, and it’s better that way.

      And yeah, can’t believe I still felt sympathy for Shunji in his last seconds of life. I thought I’d spared none for him, but it just goes to show how surprising this show could be.

      Gaksital, you are my heart and soul.

  29. 29 OMG

    OMG…Gaksital m sooooooo happy i started watching with only four episodes left cuz i dont know if my heart could have taken all u gave me in the two-per-week format. Even though i saw MokDan’s death coming….i mean years of watching kdramas has convinced me that when u see a mushy happy scene right before something big happens, some one is going to die…but boy it still hit me in the guts!! The fact that she saw Shunji first n she knowingly too d bullet for Kang-To, then asked Kang-To to let her go….dead…i was bawling like a baby!!!
    It must have taken some strength to get up and continue to fight cuz i woulda sat there next to the grave for years….its extra sad cuz this was the reality back in those day…people lost their loved ones but still had to/chose to keep fighting…*cries*
    Rie’s redemption…i loved it..the fact that it was left open, that she choose to accept her Korean self n leave Katsuyama even tho he was willing to still be her shadow…it amazed me…she used these experiences to grow up n begin to live her life as SHE wants to..like Kang-To said in an earlier episode, she was living life as a puppet…
    Shunji, Shunji, Shunji…..to say that i was happy at ur death would be an understatement…i thought u couldnt go any lower….u say how happy MokDan was n u saw she was turning to Kangto but u still choose to shoot the gun n THEN u blame Kangto….smh….but i have to say PKW is an amazing actor for being able to pull that off….n Joo Won toooo. i dont watch IN2D but i have heard he is ridiculously aegyotastic so its was amazing to see him be able to pull this character off….
    Also balls to the writers for being able to really take this show to the dark side n show how it really was back in those days…they could easily have avoided the name-calling, blood n gore but they chose to show it…PROPS!!!

  30. 30 asianromance

    I haven’t watched this series and have only followed half the recaps, but that ending makes me want to watch the series!

    • 30.1 L-V

      you must watch… :)

  31. 31 katiamon

    I can’t stop crying. I knew it wasn’t going to be a happy ending ans shunji had no way to redeem but… This is such a tragical yet inspiring ending. Gaksiital was beyond my expectations, i thought the extension might drag the story but i’m happy to know i was wrong. I loved, screamed at, cheered, got angry, etc etc for every character and now i’ll miss you, my wed-thurs won’t be the same for a while. Thank you for such wonderful recaps and all your efforts

  32. 32 Sook

    I agree wholeheartedly with all the issues you girls pointed out, and with how much you loved the series despite them. The finale was amazing. I cried out “No!” and ugly sobbed at some scenes, and pumped my fist up during others.

    I have to admit that I honestly felt nothing for Mok Dan herself and that did not change during her death, but I did mourn for what she meant to Kangto and Shunji. Leader Jo’s death? Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying, and that was amazing, because you could literally only stare in horror. I was sad to see the female comrade go down to, but man did she go out spectacularly. I adored that scene, too.

    I partly blame Park Ki Woong, and partly blame just how tragic Shunji’s character is for the fact that I cried literally every time he did in this episode. When he was with Rie on the phone and we were shown the gun, I literally went “oh my god shunji don’t someone stop him” because I realized what he was planning to do. And then I remembered that, honestly, this was the most fitting end for him; it was the most selfless thing he could have done, to finally choose to alleviate his best friend from some of the burden, in the form of taking his own life himself. That didn’t stop me from ugly sobbing in despair when he did shoot himself, though. I sobbed more than the nanny.

    His scenes with Rie and Kangto were definitely the highlight of the episode for me, aside from that amazing final scene; the amount of emotion, man.

    And speaking about Rie; so freaking relieved she lived. I had my heart in my throat the moment Ueno threatened to kill her. Thank God Kangto arrived in time, that was one of the most satisfying parts for me; plus Katsuyama finally getting to fight and defend her like he wanted to, of course.

    I loved how Rie asks Kangto to spare Shunji for both, Shunji and Kangto himself. While both, she and Mok Dan are threads that both of them have in common, Mok Dan was always all for KangTo while Rie, Shunji really grew on her.

    Her last conversation with Shunji had me in tears. It is an empty offer and she knows it; but you can still see that split second of disappointment when he declines. And Shunji, his smile; you honestly can’t help but wish he could say yes, despite everything. And maybe a part of him did, too (that “alone?” had me pausing the scene and staring in shock); but he knows better than that, because he knows what future awaits him. None.

    When she asks if he is planning to do something stupid and hits the nail right on the head, and he says “you don’t know me at all.” and you see that Rie believes him, and is relieved; it was too touching for words.

    KangTo. Oh, Kangto. You’ve done well; Mok Dan and Kangsan and your mother and father would be proud. That final scene with all of them marching; I got goosebumps when we saw SeoHwa and her brother with the masks. And when KangTo was in the middle of all the Gaksital, walking among them? Tears all over.

    Fantastic finale, indeed.

    Thanks for recapping, guys!

    • 32.1 DarknessEyes

      “Her last conversation with Shunji had me in tears. It is an empty offer and she knows it; but you can still see that split second of disappointment when he declines. And Shunji, his smile; you honestly can’t help but wish he could say yes, despite everything. And maybe a part of him did, too (that “alone?” had me pausing the scene and staring in shock); but he knows better than that, because he knows what future awaits him. None.”

      i really feel like you hit the nail on the head there. Especially about the part where he wants to say yes, but he realizes he’s created a world for himself where there really is no future for him. And then when Rie asks if he’s going to do something stupid to which he replies, “you don’t know me at all”, oh that broke my heart. I started sobbing right there because in dramaspeak, ‘you’re not going to do something stupid, right?’ means that there’s going to be a suicide. I think that apart from the KT/Shunji bromance, this was the deepest one. Not in terms of love, but in terms of understanding. The way he lies to her at the end was heartbreaking. Shunji as a character was in no way redeemable after all that, but I sure as hell cried my heart out when he died. Not even just for him specifically, but the effect that death would have on Kang-to and even Rie.

      Yeah, this drama just left me sobbing…. but i wouldn’t have had it any other way.

  33. 33 Rashell

    This is a drama that will linger with me for a very long time. So deep and dark and twisty. And yet also so inspiring. In the end the show was really about the greater purpose and the larger cause. We loved these characters and they loved eachother, but the basis of their lives became something bigger then just themselves. And so Kang To found that there was still something in him that could carry on even though Mok Dan had died. And in sad reverse Shunji found just the oposite. Without Mok Dan he had no hope for the future. Rie’s end was definitely the most hopeful. As the character that seemed most doomed to die, it was a nice twist to see her get a fresh start.

    As hard as this show was to watch sometimes, I really did love it. And I’ll miss it. But I don’t know that I’ll be re-watching anytime soon. I think I need some time for everything to settle before I revisit this one.

    Thank you so much for your wonderful recaps. They add so much to my watching enjoyment!

  34. 34 Laica

    Thanks for you guys’ awesome recaps of Gaksital. They are always good, but this drama having a more personal historical aspect made it even more interesting to read your comments.

    I agree with girlfriday – especially in dramas like this, it’s rare to get an ending where I’m totally happy with every character’s fate, but this is one. Awesome ending! Which ups my opinion of the drama as a whole, because honestly I’ve gotten to the point where I approach kdrama endings half braced for disappointment. It’s so often the weakest aspect.

    The cast of characters was wonderful. I loved some of the side characters more than the leads.

    To Joo Won: you have my love forever. Please sleep and eat lots in the next weeks. You deserve a long break!

  35. 35 Denali

    Standing O indeed.

  36. 36 Rica

    So amazing from the beginning to the end!!!! I love this drama so much. I think it is one of the best drama in K- drama for me. I just want to thank you dramabeans so much for making this drama so much fun to watch with your awesome comments and everybody’s commets in this drama. You guys made it enjoyable experiense for me. Great job on that!!!!!:) And sorry for my crappy English.:):):)

  37. 37 Alex Louise

    Tragedy but inspiring. A really great show

  38. 38 Village Mrembo

    -The overhead shot of them 2 at the table having a drink was the perfect def of them in the end, black & white (with a line(table) between them)
    -Rie rejecting katsuyama cuz basically it was a 1 sided thing was so realistic, it aint a rom com, its a freaking war story!
    -Shunji telling KT to go ahead was too nerve wracking, i was just thinking he’s gonna shoot u in the back!
    *And i guess Shunji & Rie did have time after all to congratulate the happy couple b4 the bloody massacre ; )

    Ok thats enough for the year dramagods, i dont think i can handle another intense production like this, my BP needs some recovery time-till next yr!

  39. 39 hazel

    I was too busy to actually watch the drama and to inpatient to have to wait on pins and needles each week for a new episode to air, so instead I’ve been following the series by reading the recaps every week. Thanks so much for all your hard work recapping, it was always a pleasure to read and super descriptive! I’ll definitely have to sit down and watch it sometime in the future when I get the chance.

    • 39.1 Annie

      Honestly, I just couldn’t take the pointless torture, so I started just reading the recaps after episode 18.

  40. 40 Rosebread

    Thank you for this wonderful recap.

    My favourite part would be how Katsuyama protected Rie and how he saw her off in the end. I loved that scene when he said he will never forget her name.

    But of course, the ending was – I don’t know if there’s a word for it, but it does stir up very powerful feelings.

    Once again, thank you so much for recapping this drama.

    • 40.1 Lindiriel

      I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Korean word for that feeling you’re describing, but I don’t know what it is.

      Yeah… The Katsuyama/Rie farewell scene was stunningly lovely.

  41. 41 h311ybean

    Gah, so gripping. I knew that this drama was too dark for everyone to live happily ever after and think that things ended on just the right note.

    Part of me likes to imagine that Katsuyama eventually tracked down Rie/Hong-joo, though….

    Thank you for the recaps! What a ride!

  42. 42 crazedlu

    cried. friggin cried today. several times.

    thank you, javabeans and girlfriday.

    i KNEW i would need this recap and your thoughts to help ease the hurt of saying farewell to this drama and everything amazing and sad and inspiring this drama was.

    Loved Gaksital.

  43. 43 analeeze

    I watched it without subtitles, and didn’t understand more than half of what they’re saying. But dayuuuuum! Tears were non-stop last night!

    That scene where Shunji was left crying at Mok Dan’s pool of blood was just heart-wrenching. I felt pity for the guy. Someone he loves so much, died by his own hands. I know he doesn’t have the right in any way, but he’d have wanted to hold her, cry and mourn the same way Kang To had. But all that was left for him was the grass stained by Mok Dan’s blood. It’s just… Huhuhu. He considered her his saving grace, the one that could bring him back to his former self. Tragic, very very tragic.

    GREAT GREAT DRAMA. I mean, for someone like me who doesn’t understand Korean, and not be able to wait for the subs to come out to watch it, there’s got to be more in that drama. :D Or it could be just that Joo Won’s there, but I’d like to think the tears last night were more for the drama and the characters. :D

    Now that Gaksital has ended, it left a HUGE gaping hole in my heart. Wed-Thurs will never be the same again. :)

    • 43.1 analeeze

      Oh and thanks a bunch JB and GF for the recaps! I always anticipate your Gaksital recaps and your personal comments; it’s helped me loads, and also made me realize a looooot of things in the drama. :D Kudos!

    • 43.2 Lindiriel

      I did the same thing, watched w/o the subs since I couldn’t wait and I don’t really speak (or understand) Korean either. I mean, I’ve been teaching English here for a year and a half, but language learning is slow. This drama was just TOO captivating and compelling to wait though!

      I’m not sure what to do with all the extra time I’ll have now that Gaksital is over, since I don’t want to turn to fluff next.

      So, the recaps were wonderful for filling in (the lot of) what I missed. Huge thanks for javabeans and girlfriday!

  44. 44 ella zala

    Gaksital is…OVER? oh~ tell me its not true…i’m going crazy…and dizzy…and…GAKSITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!!

    *After a moment of accepting reality*

    thank you kang to and shunji…you’ve been great! so awesome! i lub you!!!!!!!!!

    also to jb and gf. I lub you you most!

  45. 45 tapioca pearl

    This might get long, but I can’t stop blubbering. Never did I scream so much within the first ten minutes of any show, not even during other Gaksital episodes. This is pretty much the best drama I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing and analyzing. It’s not perfect, but its emotional punch and complex characters and steel balls of glory and the ultra hero-villain pairing are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen. I just don’t think I’ll ever encounter a drama like this again.

    This finale was as good as I’d hoped it to be, even better since I’d worried so much that Kang-to would die. I’m glad he gets to live on, even if for one more day, to continue fighting. The show cut off right at the perfect moment–we see the effects of Gaksital on the average people, the uprising of new fighters who will probably die, the perseverance of Kang-to as Gaksital, who really could have walked away, given all his losses, but chose to lead the people. It’s all so moving. You don’t have to be Korean to feel the emotions because they’re so universal. I love it. I love Gaksital.

    I’m also glad Kang-to didn’t kill Shunji. The moment he killed Mok Dan, I knew he was going to kill himself. I’m glad there was no epic confrontation/fight to the death between the two men because yesterday’s fight was already kind of awesome. It really was just time for the two to exchange some last words. Is it to the writing’s credit or Park Ki-woong’s that I actually screamed “NO!” when he raised the gun to his temple? I don’t know. All I know is that despite all my hate and bad wishes for Shunji, it still ripped me to shreds.

    Speaking of being ripped to shreds, yeah, Mok Dan’s fate was sealed once she wore that dress, huh? So sad that Kang-to again lost another person he loved. It just fucking pains me that he can’t be with the person he loves ever, and I almost can’t bear it even if it’s great narratively. Does the dude have to be alone forever? But alas, the drama reminds us that he’s never alone, that people will fight alongside him to the end, whenever that may be. As long as he fights for his country, he will never be alone. But all the same, I’m still sad for him.

    Thank goodness that at least Rie gets out of this alive. I never wanted her to die, so I’m super happy she gets this second chance at life as her real self. I’m just glad for one happy ending (?).

    But ugh, it’s hard to believe I can’t expect any more Gaksital episodes. This is so hard for me, I really didn’t know what to do once I finished it. Like I was lost or empty inside. I don’t know. I’m drained from all the emotions, but in a good way. This should be my last drama (it won’t be) because I feel like I can’t watch anything else right now. I haven’t been keeping up with any other drama I started, just feeling anxious about this drama ending. I love Gaksital so much it hurts my brain more than anything.

    Bravo to the cast and crew for such an excellent production. I’m glad they acknowledged the death of the actor from early in the production, which is just so unfortunate. My heart goes out to everybody involved. The hours, the work, the effort they all put into the show went unwasted. Thanks for bringing this drama to the public and never wavering in your storytelling!

    And thank you to javabeans and girlfriday for providing great insight into this drama. You guys are aces for doing so when the rest of would have been too spent and too much a mess to make sense of anything. Your recaps were a great addition to watching the drama, so really, thanks for everything!

    Until next time, ta-ta!

  46. 46 Hannah

    This drama was the closest to perfect that I have ever seen (the weak-link was Mok Dan for not enough depth/layers, however, the great surpasses it on so many levels). Not only was it close-to-perfection, it was epic, inspiring, courageous, dark, and emotionally charged.

    I’m just so amazed at this drama. So amazed. It was a wonderful roller-coaster ride (even if it did leave me disoriented and filled with conundrum at how empty and full I feel at the same time), it was the best ride I’ve ever taken on The K-Drama Adventure.

    Also, thank you for the recaps. It is always, always appreciated. <3

  47. 47 Star

    This drama has been perfect <3

    It certainly raises the bar and my expectations for other dramas. Time to rewatch!

  48. 48 chichiri

    Ooof. I watched the raw episode last night, even if I don’t have any ounce of understanding of the Korean language. I cried.

    I read the recap. I cried.

    I, myself, am spent.

    But like what girlfriday said of the show a few episodes back: I’d take all of its 5 glaring faults if I still get the 95 awesome things it is.

    Ahhh.. let the withdrawal symptoms commence.

    • 48.1 chichiri

      I forgot to mention my appreciation for javabeans’ and girlfriday’s efforts to analyse and deconstruct the plots and its implications for us.. Who would’ve that analysis of a drama adapted from a manhwa would feel and mean something like that of a literary criticism of classic novels. I attribute everything to you both.

      At least it elevates the drama experience to more than just staring at Joo-won’s ass or smiling with Shunji or feeling envious of Han Chae Ah’s pretty, most of all, spazzing over an ajusshi (ahem Damsari.. Dong jin).

      Love. And hugs to all.

      • 48.1.1 ella zala

        thank you. i need the hug. so. bad. i’m emotionally drained after crying so much…Sob2~ T_____T

  49. 49 Hanna

    The first drama ever that I cried a river, from the start till the end. Great drama!

    Thanks to JB and GF for the recaps.

  50. 50 Hyaci

    OHHHHH MAN
    POOR MOK DAN…..
    IDK why she gets so much hate. I mean, sure, she’s not well acted, but she’s still…. you can’t just hate her rofl/

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