Discovery of Romance: Episode 16 (Final)
The finale is one dedicated to Yeo-reum, and fittingly so. She ties up all the loose ends of coincidence, fate, loyalty, and love to discover what romance means to her. The long road with twisty detours and roundabout paths has finally come to an end. And although the end is no big surprise, we’re given a couple of pleasant surprising nuances about romance, which is an optimistic and thoughtful note to end on.
EPISODE 16: “Although there’s no such thing as everlasting love…”
Yeo-reum works in her shop, and her new bangs and signs for woodworking classes tell us that some time has passed. A man comes in (cameo by Yoo Ah-in) to sign up for classes, but his real question reveals another intention: “Do you have a boyfriend?” She casually tells him that it’s been a year since her break-up, and she got dumped for two-timing. When she asks if he’s still interested, he awkwardly slips out of there. Heh.
She reflects that it’s actually been a year since everything’s happened and thinks back to her farewell with Tae-ha. In interview mode, the two express their reluctance to part in that moment. Yeo-reum says that she was tempted to turn back when she was walking away, and Tae-ha admits that he wished that she had.
In a quick flashback, we see that she kind of did, standing and crying just around the corner out of Tae-ha’s view. “I cried for an hour there. I was scared and wanted to Tae-ha to take me somewhere.” Tae-ha tells a similar story, “I don’t know how long I stood there. The sun had set by the time I left.”
Yeo-reum also reveals that she drunk-dialed him around two months after their break-up. In another flashback, a very drunk Yeo-reum sits outside her workshop door and calls Tae-ha to ask how he’s doing. She denies that she misses him but admits that tears keep falling. Her moment of sadness is interjected by a random man on the other line. Realizing that she hasn’t been talking to Tae-ha, she hangs up and buries her head, crying that he changed his number.
Tae-ha tells us that he deleted all his numbers when he got a new phone and doesn’t know her number anymore. That way, he won’t be tempted to send her another drunk text.
Making herself ramyun, Yeo-reum shrugs it all off and says that everything’s in the past. As she starts eating, Joon-ho and Sol come back from their movie date. They look at her pitifully and coo at each other. When Yeo-reum asks what movies are out, they shut her down, asking if she’s really going to watch a movie by herself, and she gives them a deserving glare.
Joon-ho gets a call from Ha-jin about work and makes it overtly clear that it’s not him. So obviously, Yeo-reum knows that it’s him. With the covert caller revealed, Joon-ho adds that Ha-jin hasn’t taken off his ring yet, making Yeo-reum pause in silence.
Ha-jin comes home from work and notices a pair of slippers in front of his closet. He slowly slides open his closet and finds Yeo-reum hiding there, just like she used to. She gives him a cautious greeting and asks if he’s missed her. Smiling, he acknowledges that he did and admits that he’s always nervous when he opens the closet, hoping that she’d be there.
She tells him that if he wants to get back together, he can just tell her. “In hindsight, I should have listened to you. Even if we fought, we should have stuck together. Don’t you still hate me?” He says that he does, but she knows that he doesn’t. When he asks if she’s sorted out her feelings, she nods. He’s happy that she’s ultimately decided to come back to him, and they reunite with kisses.
But that’s all in his imagination. Back in real life, he’s hugging not Yeo-reum, but a pillow from his closet. He quickly shuts the door and walks away, telling us that this is actually an improvement. Even a few months ago…
In a flashback, Joon-ho accompanies Ha-jin in his drunken state. He tells Ha-jin about his relationship progress with Sol, but Ha-jin ignores him completely, with only Yeo-reum on his mind. After taking a swig from his bottle, Ha-jin asks about Yeo-reum and orders him to tell her that he’s completely fine, though he’s obviously not.
Still getting over the relationship, he says, “I knew she was tough and bad, but how could she not call me once? If I were her, I would make an excuse to see me.” When asked if he wants to get back together with her, Ha-jin initially says no, but goes back and forth, wrestling with the whole Tae-ha–Yeo-reum mess.
Joon-ho looks at him with sympathy as Ha-jin continues, “But apart from all of that, Yeo-reum and I weren’t fit for each other. If there’s one thing I learned from this relationship…” He falls and lies on the ground as he finishes his thought in a voiceover: “I learned that if she doesn’t love me, I can’t make her. It doesn’t work with effort. I can’t even control my own feelings; how can I control someone else’s?”
At work, Tae-ha tries to find a company to partner with for a new interior project. His employees recommend that they work with Yeo-reum and Sol again, but he shuts them down with unexpected candor. He admits that he and Yeo-reum are exes, so they can’t work together. A clueless insensitive employee wonders how, since Yeo-reum had a boyfriend. That prompts Tae-ha to leave.
Tae-ha meets up with a client at a restaurant to discuss the new project. The lady seems to have the hots for him, as she asks to have wine with him sometime. He agrees to in a professional manner and leaves as she watches him with an infatuated gaze.
As he takes the escalators down, he notices a familiar face: Ha-jin, who’s at a conference with his fellow doctors. Tae-ha hears his conversation about marriage from afar and sees that Ha-jin still has his ring. He turns around to leave, probably with the wrong assumption.
Ha-jin passes by the restaurant and sees the back of a woman that looks just like Yeo-reum. He shakes his head and walks away, knowing he’s hallucinating her presence everywhere. But turns out, it is actually Yeo-reum, and she’s there to meet with the infatuated client. She’s the furniture end of this deal.
When Yeo-reum flips through the interior designs, she recognizes the business card from Tae-ha’s company. Infatuated Client tells her that she’s interested in Tae-ha and has confirmed that he’s not taken. The lady seems excited to jump on this opportunity, but Yeo-reum seems more fixated on the fact that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.
Tae-ha’s car is blocked off by another car, so he angrily calls Director Yoon to take care of his other business plans. When he turns around, he sees none other than Ha-jin, his car also blocked by the same vehicle. They snap at each other, clearly annoyed to be stuck in this situation together.
Ha-jin catches Tae-ha staring at his ring and starts to poke him where it hurts. He updates Tae-ha that Yeo-reum is doing well, and taking it a step further, he offers a wedding invitation to him. He’s clearly enjoying being an ass, smirking at Tae-ha’s reaction to the news. The valet driver arrives just in time to break the tension, and the two go their separate ways.
Ha-jin pulls up to the side of the road, reflecting on his malicious intentions for Tae-ha and Yeo-reum. He scolds himself for his childish actions and finally finds the courage to take off his ring. After some hesitation, he drops it out the window and drives off.
Mom and Producer Bae take a walk in the countryside. She comments on how nice it is, and he tells her that she can come down here after finishing her current drama. “When I see you always working in that office and eating carelessly, I’m upset. So come here and take care of your health.” She suspiciously asks if he’s telling her to stop working, and he scoffs. He knows she’s not one to stop working at command, and he needs her to keep writing for him anyway.
He knows that she’s worked nonstop after Yeo-reum’s father passed, so he wants her to come to this place to rest. He wants them to enjoy a decent life. She questions whether that’s possible, and he asserts that it is. Taking her hand, he assures her: “I’m right here by your side.” Smiling, she agrees by suggesting that they get a dog and a patio. They hold hands and look at their new home in good spirits.
Ha-jin returns home and glances at his two bikes: one that he bought for himself and one that Ah-rim left for Yeo-reum. Then he wistfully looks around in his apartment, and we see that he’s packed up his life into boxes.
Infatuated Client sets up a meeting for her interior and furniture designers, which sets up a reunion for Tae-ha and Yeo-reum. They pretend not to know each other and introduce themselves in honorifics. As the meeting progresses, Tae-ha thinks back to Ha-jin’s mention of their upcoming wedding, and Yeo-reum thinks back to her client’s plans to get with Tae-ha. When they get into an argument about the design, the client declares that she’ll leave it to Tae-ha, since she likes him.
Tae-ha spits out his drink at the sudden confession, and the client takes her confession further by asking him out to dinner. Yeo-reum glares at Tae-ha, and he quickly glances at her before accepting the dinner offer, to which Yeo-reum pouts. He hands her a gift from Director Yoon (he’s trying to make moves, eh?) and offers to take her out for gopchang (pig intestine). Right before they leave, Yeo-reum interjects that she really likes gopchang as well. Ha.
The three end up at the gopchang place, and when Infatuated Client asks what they want, they reply in unison and finish each other’s requests. Tae-ha notices that Yeo-reum doesn’t have her ring on, and it bothers him.
A couple drinks in, the client starts asking Tae-ha questions to get to know him: what he does in his free time and what his favorite book is. Yeo-reum answers the second question for him — A Dog of Flanders — and he acknowledges that it is. When she asks what his favorite part of the book is, she beats him to it again — the end when they freeze to death. On the topic of movie genres, Yeo-reum answers and asks if porn is a genre. HA.
By this time, Infatuated Client has picked up that the two know each other, and Tae-ha admits that they were friends. Yeo-reum reveals more, saying “We also dated for a bit. Five years, in fact.” Haha, best cockblock ever.
Infatuated Client is understandably annoyed and returns the gift from Director Yoon, leaving the two to talk out their problems. Tae-ha asks why Yeo-reum’s interfering and brings up her supposed upcoming marriage with Ha-jin. “Don’t interfere with my life and live happily. It’s a good thing I broke up with you then. Thinking about it now, I’m thankful we did.” He shoves Director’s Yoon rejected gift into her hands, congratulates her, and walks off.
…Only to turn back again to give his final word: “You told me that love is loyalty, right? What’s loyalty without heart? Your heart is first and then it’s loyalty. Live long and happily with your loyalty.” He storms off, and she watches him leave with a curious blank look on her face.
Sol and Joon-ho are feeding each other popcorn while watching a movie, when Yeo-reum returns and interrupts their couple time. They imply that she’s not invited to watch with them, as they take the movie to another room. She follows them and asks them to have a drink with her because she saw Kang Tae-ha today. They wiggle their fingers “no” and continue watching, so Yeo-reum turns off the movie and forces a venting session on them.
She tells them her belief in coincidences and fate. They work in related fields, so it’s just coincidental that they met up again. “Coincidences are coincidences, am I right? And he’s still a jerk. I imagined a reunion to be more nostalgic and yearning.” Sol and Joon-ho remind her that they’ve shared a long history, and he’s probably sick of her. It’s not like they just broke up, either. They ask her to leave and start to go under to covers, making Yeo-reum dart out of there.
The next morning, Joon-ho and Sol are stuck in a predicament with the bikes they received from Ha-jin. Yeo-reum walks in and sees them, which triggers happy memories. They tell her that he left the bikes for them to ride, since they would go to waste anyway.
Yeo-reum and Sol work in their shop, but they’re interrupted by a sudden visit from Ha-jin’s mother. As soon as she walks in, she slaps Yeo-reum across her face. She says that she never liked Yeo-reum, but she hates her even more for causing Ha-jin to leave the country. All Yeo-reum can do is apologize. Ouch, motherly instincts and anger are seldom a good combo.
Afterwards, Sol admits to Yeo-reum that she knew, but Ha-jin didn’t want to make a big deal out of his departure. His real dream was to pursue global service, so it’s fitting that he follow this path. Unsettled by this news, Yeo-reum rushes out.
At the airport, Ha-jin picks up a call from his mother and assures her that he’ll be in touch often. After some hesitation, he finds the strength to express his true gratitude. “I’ve never said this before, but thank you for raising me. I love you.” He hangs up with that and gets up to catch his flight.
But in the distance, he sees Yeo-reum approaching him. She gets closer, and he thinks back to their past conversation about couples growing apart and changing. Back then, he was convinced that they would never break up, since they always tried to understand each other. In the present, Ha-jin thinks back to the promises he made then.
In a voiceover, Yeo-reum tells us: “All promises made on the basis of love are true, but there’s no one who will fulfill that eternal promise after that love has ended.” Ha-jin: “Yeo-reum had known that then, but I’ve only just realized this now. A promise only lasts as long as the love does.”
Sitting a seat apart, Yeo-reum asks Ha-jin about his plans. He says that he’ll be gone for about a year and asks if she’ll wait for him. Not fulfilling his hopes, she tells him that she came to apologize, as she never had a chance to properly do so.
In response, he tells her, “I’m not the one who let you go, and you’re not the one who left. When I was with you, I wasn’t happy. I was always anxious, tried to hide it, and wanted to be loved. It’s not because of Kang Tae-ha — we tried to be happy together, but we weren’t. That’s why we broke up.” He tells her that he wants to find happiness within himself and wishes her happiness as well.
Director Yoon goes out on a blind date on Tae-ha’s request, and his date turns out to be Mom’s assistant, Gi-eun. She tells him that she quit her script-writing job once her book got published. She pulls it out, and it’s titled Discovery of Romance. She signs the book and hands it to him, and he’s clearly impressed. He turns to the signed page, which says that she’s interested in him, and when he flips to the title page, the tag line reads, “Romance is not a drama but a reality.” Oh, the meta.
The go on to discuss the contents of the book. Director Yoon asks, “So construction company president K, furniture designer H, and plastic surgeon N. The story just ends with H getting dumped by the two? That’s it?” Responding to his outrage, Gi-eun says that she doesn’t know because that’s as far as she got in covering this story, but she fills him in with her insights: “I really don’t know the ending. It’s sort of roundabout. They all abandon each other, they’re all a bit hurtful to each other, and they all find solace in each other. But that’s all a part of human relationships.” By this point, Director Yoon is absolutely smitten.
Tae-ha brings flowers to Yeo-reum’s father and pays his respects. Mom and Yeo-reum arrive some time later and see the flowers. Mom wonders who dropped by, but Yeo-reum knows that it was probably Tae-ha — this is why she liked him. Yeo-reum’s come to visit her father for the first time in six years, and in her thoughts she apologizes to him. “I’m sorry for coming so late. I’ll come more often now. I’m sorry I didn’t come and for hating you. I’m sorry for everything.”
Mom decides to drop the bomb now, telling her late husband: “I’m getting remarried. I’m going to live the rest of my life with Bae Min-soo. Now that Yeo-reum is here, I won’t come anymore. It’d be strange to keep visiting you while living with a different man.” Yeo-reum responds with utter shock, and she continues. “I’ve come to visit you loyally throughout the years, but I can’t live the rest of my life simply on loyalty. Even if we meet in the afterlife, let’s ignore each other.” She gives him a curt goodbye and walks away.
Bewildered, Yeo-reum chases after Mom and asks her how she could do this: marry twice when she hasn’t even married once. Mom gives her explanation: “You see what I did there? He and I are done. There’s no reason to feel sorry or keep loyalty towards a finished man. The end is the end. You got that, Han Yeo-reum?” You go, Mom.
Ha-jin is currently working at a free clinic in Cambodia, and he serendipitously comes across Ah-rim, who’s arrived as a new service worker there. They go on a walk, and he realizes that this is what Ah-rim was doing the whole time, not studying abroad. He found it strange that she hadn’t contacted him or used any of his money. He lightly scolds her for still using honorifics, but she finds it awkward to suddenly drop it after being separated for so long.
Ah-rim asks if Ha-jin got married, and he replies that after spending so much time seeing greater struggles here, he’s realized that love really isn’t such a big deal. Based on that, she correctly assumes that he got dumped, and he immediately gets defensive when she calls Yeo-reum “that scary unni.”
She admits that she also liked someone, but it was one-sided and she never got to confess her feelings because the person had a girlfriend. He scolds her for liking a taken guy, and she wonders why she did, with a hint of sarcasm and regret. They laugh it off and watch the sunset in content.
Yeo-reum returns to her room and finds Joon-ho there. He tells her that Ha-jin wrote a letter confessing that he’d coincidentally run into Tae-ha and told him that he was getting married to her. “He’s too nice for his own good and wanted me to tell you this. But Yeo-reum, I also have something to confess.” He takes out Tae-ha’s memory box from under the table and slides it to her. He didn’t feel right about throwing it away and tells Yeo-reum to do what she wants.
Tae-ha finds his way to a collection of trees but deflates when he arrives at the location. The trees are all cut down, and he says that the stumps seem to reflect reality. “There’s no use in love. What’s the use in becoming one through love when it can end just like that? Love’s nothing; it’s just a fleeting moment.”
He prepares his camera to take a picture of a stump, but someone walks into the frame. It’s Yeo-reum, happy to see him there. He’s confused and asks her how she knew he was here. She shrugs, claiming that she didn’t know and suggesting that it must be fate. He refuses to believe her, saying, “Maybe it is fate. But let’s avoid making this fate here.” He walks off, but she follows.
Turning around, he yells at her to leave. She smiles back, and he can’t help but smile back but quickly catches himself. Shaking himself out of the giddy feelings, he narrows his eyes at her with suspicion and asks if she’s stalked his social media.
She shakes her head in denial, but in a flashback we see otherwise. The contents of Tae-ha’s memory box are scattered over Yeo-reum’s bed, and she tries to locate Tae-ha through social media. She looks smug when she finds him among the sea of Kang Tae-has (and where he’s headed today), and in the present, she continues to insist that it’s fate. Hehe.
Tae-ha scoffs and walks away, but Yeo-reum trails after him saying, “It is fate, but I don’t believe in fate anymore. If life was planned out for us, it wouldn’t be any fun. I like thinking that there’s no set plan for our futures, and it’s funny that we happen to meet here.”
Having enough of her nonsense, Tae-ha tells her that he’s forgotten her and life is somewhat livable now, so stop following. Yeo-reum says that she wants to start back up with him and that she got dumped. But he’s over it and says that he’s going to find a nicer girl than her. Not one to lose in the argument, Yeo-reum claims that she’s become nicer and urges him to change his mind: “We’re both bad people. Why hurt all the better people of the world?”
He still refuses and walks away, so Yeo-reum walks in the opposite direction. When he realizes she’s not following, he chases after her. She says that she’s changed her mind, but Tae-ha notices that she’s wearing the bag, necklace, and earrings he got her. She did come to see him.
She walks away, but Tae-ha follows her and grabs her hand. He takes note that he’s holding her hand (hee, just like their early days) and that she’s not letting go. Then he asks why she’s smiling, and she replies, “When I’m with you, I feel most like myself.” She lets that sink in and gives him permission to kiss her. He says that he doesn’t need her permission but pulls her in for a kiss anyway.
We get quick flashbacks to their first kiss as voiceovers tell us their outlook. Yeo-reum: “This love, too, will end one day. Although there is no everlasting love, if we didn’t believe in it, we couldn’t hold each other’s hand.” Tae-ha: “The climax of our love has passed, and we’ll probably live bickering all the time. But I think I like it better that way.”
I’d say I’m pretty satisfied. I’m a sucker for cute, and that ending was bursting with cute. Not that this drama was completely realistic or perfect by any standards, but the ending granted our couple well-deserved happiness with a nice touch of realism. They both know they’re in for a completely different relationship from what they had before, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. They’re hopeful for what’s to come, but they know what to expect — it’s a nice combination of fate and coincidence. I think Yeo-reum had a nice way of exhibiting and articulating her understanding of those two ideas. With fate, there’s a fundamental understanding that there is a path and an ultimate destination for you. It’s reassuring yet unsettling at the same time, so screw your belief in fate. Just go with the coincidences — intentional or not — and go along with what life throws at you. It’s better that way.
The loyalty and love dynamic was brought up twice throughout this episode, and it’s a hard call to make. It’s difficult to draw the line between the two, as it’s almost a chicken and egg type of dilemma. Does loyalty foster love, or is loyalty an inherent part of love? Is one better than the other? The finale seems to tell us that they’re both essential to building and maintaining a relationship, that one can’t exist without the other. But simple loyalty isn’t going to cut it. Your blind loyalty can hinder your pursuits for love. And it’s okay to come to terms with an end and move on, cutting your ties with your previous loyalty. It’s an intriguing paradox they set up, and I can’t decide if I agree or disagree with it. But I guess it just boils down to happiness. Whatever you do, just be happy.
The honesty in this episode was so refreshing. Ha-jin finally being open and honest about his feelings was long overdue, but I guess it’s better late than never! I don’t think he wasn’t honest before; he just didn’t know how to be honest with himself, which inevitably led to the fallout. The reality was that he wasn’t happy, and I’m glad that he finally got around to understanding that. He needed that realization for himself so that he could properly make amends and get over his relationship with Yeo-reum. I’m glad he finally learned how to properly say goodbye, with his mother and with Yeo-reum. Although he wasn’t the best-written character, he had enough complexities to keep me invested and sympathizing with his internal struggles.
All the cuteness and resolution in this episode put aside, I know that this series as a whole was quite frustrating at times. Actually, more often than not, there was something in an episode that could be disputed. Simply put, there were many opinions and feelings. But I think that’s a good thing and somewhat intentional. The disagreement and discussion were sparked by questionable decisions by our flawed characters, and I can’t help but think the characters were purposely written in such a manner. They were intentionally flawed almost in an explicit manner to magnify very real flaws we may have. There were many times that I could see myself in a certain character, and that caught me off guard. It was a surreal way to experience some of my own flaws, and so I applaud the show for its writing. It was controversial, real, and quite frankly, aggravating, but that’s what made it different and realistic.
I’m a bit disappointed that the show didn’t exploit its format more, though the final meta wrap-up did conclude it quite nicely. The interview format was something really new and used quite well in this drama, and I only wish that they had used it more during the duller moments of brooding. It was a nice break from the norm, almost transcending the concept of breaking the fourth wall to breaking the third and fourth walls. The inceptions of meta in crossing over boundaries of the interviews were probably my favorite parts of the drama, making me wish I could do such things in real life. Imagine walking through a fourth dimension to whack someone on the head for talking trash about you. If only dramas were a reality… which they aren’t according to Gi-eun’s book, so conveniently titled Discovery of Romance. Meta.
Somehow, even with all this turbulence, everyone gets their happy ending. Sol and Joon-ho fulfill their potential as the most adorkable couple ever. Ha-jin and Ah-rim reunite as brother and sister (with potential for a future) after two decades doing the work that they’ve always wanted to do. Mom gets on the same page as Producer Bae and teaches her daughter a lesson while she’s at it (side note: I loved blunt Mom and her no-nonsense attitude). Even Director Yoon and Gi-eun get an unexpected match-up. And of course, our main troublesome couple, Yeo-reum and Tae-ha, who are frustrating and cute beyond words.
There were many things I appreciated from this drama. Some purely on the surface, some great nuances, and some small insignificant details. To list a few: the ongoing burning smell whenever Eric is around, how Jung Yumi cries while still being so pretty, Sung Joon’s attractiveness even in bland and shapeless clothing, Kim Seul-gi’s impressive range in acting, Eric mastering the art of the stink eye, the strange design of the PPL bikes, the rabbit named Yeo-reum that mysteriously disappeared from the plot, and the bromance between Director Yoon and Tae-ha. I’m glad the ending did live up to its title, though one can only hope that discovering romance in real life won’t be as crazy and meandering. But if it comes with a guaranteed side of cute and ducklings on your head, I’ll take it.
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 15
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 14
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 13
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 12
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 11
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 10
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 9
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 8
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 7
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 6
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 5
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 4
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 3
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 2
- Discovery of Romance: Episode 1