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122

Mirror of the Witch: Episode 20 (Final)

We’re at the end of our epic Joseon fairytale, and I have to be honest, I went into this finale with pretty high expectations and more than a little bit of nervousness. Can a show stay true to the path that it’s been on for its entirety, through this many episodes, until the very end? Thankfully, Mirror of the Witch continues to do what it does best right until its last moments, bringing together romance, danger, lighthearted humor, and tears (lots of them) without losing sight of the story it set out to tell from the beginning. The result? A satisfying send-off for our beloved characters and a drama that I’ll fondly remember for being one of my favorites — at least so far — of the year.

 

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

At Cheongbing Temple, Yeon-hee wakes to find Jun nodding off next to her. He wakes up soon after and tells Yeon-hee that he feels like he’s dreaming, and he never wants to wake up. Their sweet moment is interrupted when they hear Soon-deuk calling Jun’s name.

The two head out to greet Soon-deuk, who fidgets nervously when Jun asks her about the early morning visit. She squirms even more when Yo-gwang pops up, asking her why she’s here again. Jun notices something in Soon-deuk’s hands: a pallet of medicine. It’s obviously for Yo-gwang, but Soon-deuk protests vigorously that it’s not — it’s for her.

Jun examines the medicine and says it’s good for stab wounds, like the one Yo-gwang’s currently sporting. At that, Yo-gwang grabs his injured side while Jun and Yeon-hee adorably exchange amused grins. Soon-deuk pretends that there must have been a mistake with the medicine, handing it over to Yo-gwang before hightailing it out of there.

Jun catches Soon-deuk just outside the temple and gently chides her for hiding her concern for Yo-gwang, which she denies. He asks her point-blank if she likes Yo-gwang, and again, she protests, saying that the only thing she likes is money. She adds in a more sincere tone that what she hates the most is being a burden to someone.

It’s potion-making time! Jun gets to work, telling Yeon-hee that the potion is to help out a girl who complains all the time because she’s too much of a coward. Yeon-hee smiles, knowing exactly who the girl is, and offers to help.

Soon-deuk walks through town lost in thought over Yo-gwang when she spots a suspicious-looking figure: It’s Heo Ok, trying to seem inconspicuous on his way to the super secret (not) wood shed where stowaways await their boat to Ming. Soon-deuk follows Ok and watches from afar as he offers his ticket to guards outside the shed; he’s then shuffled inside.

Soon-deuk returns to her local tavern to find Jun and Yeon-hee waiting for her, Courage Potion in hand. Jun tells her to drink it if she wants things to go well with Yo-gwang, then straight-up laughs in her face when she protests that it’s not like that.

Before Jun and Yeon-hee leave, Soon-deuk remembers to tell them about Ok and what she saw. She asks if Jun shouldn’t try to stop him from running away. Jun’s face darkens, but all he says is that he doesn’t have time to worry about Ok right now.

Jun is lost in thought as he and Yeon-hee organize potion ingredients at Cheongbing Temple. Yeon-hee finally snaps Jun out of his daze and tells him to go see Ok — he may regret it if he doesn’t, and that will just end up weighing on his heart. Jun looks resigned, knowing Yeon-hee’s right.

Jun and Yeon-hee catch Ok just as he’s leaving the shed with the rest of the stowaways. Jun says that Ok couldn’t possibly be thinking of escaping to Ming — not when he knows what happens to runaways better than anyone else. Ok is instantly defensive, asking if Jun’s brought the royal guards with him; Jun replies that he wouldn’t do that because Ok’s life would be so much worse on the run. Ok starts to clap, telling Jun he’s cool right until the end. He accuses Jun of laughing at how pathetic Ok has become.

His eyes filling with tears, Jun tells Ok that the most pathetic thing about him is his unwillingness to face consequences. He tells Ok not to run away — if he’s committed a crime, he needs to admit to it and deal with the punishment as it comes. That’s the only way left that Ok can live a respectable life, he says.

As Jun runs off, Ok yells after him that he wanted to live well, too. He looks startled when Yeon-hee heads over to him. She tells him that it’s not easy to acknowledge your wrongdoings, but that he shouldn’t throw away the last chance that Jun’s given him. She leaves him with something that might help: a Self-Awareness Potion.

Soon-deuk returns to Cheongbing Temple and tells Yo-gwang she’s come to have words with him. Clutching the empty potion bottle (yay!), she bravely asks Yo-gwang why he grabbed her hand the day he was attacked by Hyun-seo. As usual, Yo-gwang thinks she’s picking a fight, but Soon-deuk gets Yo-gwang to stop interrupting her long enough to tell him the truth: She’s come to like him.

HAHA, Yo-gwang’s tiny, monotone responses to her confession are hilarious: “Huh? What? Why?” She tells him not to worry — she hates being a burden to people, so she doesn’t plan on seeing him ever again. But as Soon-deuk turns to leave, Yo-gwang calls out that she’s not a burden, and that she shouldn’t say that she’ll never see him again so easily. He then breaks out into an adorable grin, and Soon-deuk grumbles at how cool he is.

Ok sits outside the palace walls, fretting over what to do. He decides to gulp down his potion, and the effect is immediate: He walks straight up to the palace guards to turn himself in.

At Cheongbing Temple, all but one of the candles are now lit, and Yeon-hee is beaming. Jun does his best to hide his sadness and tells Yeon-hee that they have somewhere to go.

He brings her to a pretty house in the middle of nowhere — it’s their getaway spot for the day. Yeon-hee wonders why they’re not working on the last candle, but Jun reassures her that he’s found someone to light it. He asks her to spend the day with him here, without thinking of anything else but the two of them.

They go out into the marketplace, picking up groceries and for old time’s sake, a kite. While admiring some pretty hairpins, Yeon-hee looks to the side and catches a glimpse of Hong-joo, watching her from afar. When she looks again, though, Hong-joo is gone, and Yeon-hee doesn’t mention to Jun what she saw.

On their way back, Yeon-hee stops to watch a wedding ceremony, and ack, the way Jun’s looking at her is making my heart hurt. Back at their house, the two are adorable as they make dinner together, teasing and flirting. Next, they decorate the kite with drawings of each other and take turns getting the kite to fly.

Soon-deuk sits at a tavern with a despondent — and increasingly drunk — Yo-gwang. A mysterious figure in black sits at a nearby table. As Yo-gwang drinks, he thinks back to his earlier conversation with Jun, when Jun first told him about his plans to whisk Yeon-hee away for the day. While Yo-gwang couldn’t find the words to tell Jun about the last candle, Jun told him that Hyun-seo had already filled him in, and that he would light Yeon-hee’s last candle.

Back in the present, Yo-gwang rambles on about how he hates the heavens and how bad he feels for Yeon-hee and Jun. When Soon-deuk gets up to get him some more alcohol, Yo-gwang flops to the ground, only to hear the mystery man at the next table speak up: “You should treasure your life, if you were saved from death.” (Is this the guy who saved Yo-gwang??)

Startled, Yo-gwang wonders out loud if those words were meant for him. The mystery man (cameo by Ahn Gil-kang) doesn’t acknowledge Yo-gwang directly; instead, he says it’s a sad fate, but one of the two has to die. The man opens his bag, revealing a copy of the Mauigeumseo inside, then pulls out a bottle marked “Sacrifice Potion,” which he says will kill without causing any pain.

He tells Yo-gwang to deliver the bottle and this message to the one who will be making the sacrifice: “Don’t despair too much, as your sacrifice will save the lives of millions of people.” Yo-gwang, stunned, watches the man leave, then picks up the bottle. He belatedly tries to run after the man, but he’s long gone.

Yeon-hee and Jun are asleep (it’s innocent — they’re sitting up outside on the porch) when Yeon-hee wakes with a start, her eyes flashing. She tiptoes away from Jun to take a look around the yard, and finds a note on the ground and opens it.

Cut to Hong-joo standing outside, a forlorn look on her face. Yeon-hee approaches her, tiredly asking her if she’s here to stop Yeon-hee again. But Hong-joo says no, as she’s lost all the ways she had to kill Yeon-hee. She’s here because she has something to tell Yeon-hee: The truth about the last page of the Mauigeumseo, which Hyun-seo tried so hard to hide from her.

Hong-joo says that according to this last page, the only way to light the last candle is by true love’s sacrifice; it must be Jun who lights that last candle and lays his life down for Yeon-hee. Yeon-hee calls her a liar, and Hong-joo digs the knife a little deeper and says it’s such a pity, when Yeon-hee’s probably been dreaming of a future with Jun. Yeon-hee says she doesn’t believe her, but her eyes fill with tears.

Yeon-hee replays Hong-joo’s words on her walk back, then recalls Jun’s earlier assurance that he’s found someone to light the last candle. Jun, who’s been sitting on the porch looking worried, jumps to his feet when he sees Yeon-hee walk onto the property. He starts to scold her for disappearing, but Yeon-hee just envelops Jun in a tight hug mid-sentence, letting her tears fall.

Taken aback, Jun asks Yeon-hee what’s wrong — is it because she’s worried about the last candle? He pulls away from her, smiles brightly, and tells her not to worry, because they’ll light the candle.

Yeon-hee: “How? By you dying instead of me?” Jun’s smile fades. Yeon-hee says Jun should have run away, so that he wouldn’t have to die because of her. “If I lose you, then I…” Yeon-hee can’t finish her sentence and shakes off his hands on her arms. She reminds him that he’d said he’d do anything for her, then asks him to leave — this is what she wants.

Jun looks back at Yeon-hee, his own eyes glistening with tears. He tells her he won’t go. Yeon-hee says that since meeting him, what’s scared her the most was Jun dying because of her. She repeats her request for him to leave, then turns away and runs.

Hyun-seo surprises Poong-yeon at home to ask him for a favor. Hyun-seo tells his son that if Yeon-hee’s curse is broken today, Poong-yeon must burn Hong-joo’s body with his spiritual fire. Poong-yeon just wants to know what would happen to Hyun-seo if Hong-joo dies. Hyun-seo says that’s something to figure out after Hong-joo is gone, and that Poong-yeon shouldn’t worry about him.

Back at Cheongbing Temple, Yeon-hee and Jun sit separately, lost in their own thoughts. Yeon-hee finds Jun and tells him there’s something she’d like to do with him.

Aw, they’re holding a marriage ceremony — with Yo-gwang presiding — and it’s all too cute. After Yeon-hee and Jun bow to one another and take sips of their drinks, Yo-gwang declares them married. Jun interrupts, saying they forgot one thing.

When Jun disappears to retrieve a flower wreath, Yeon-hee breaks down in tears and tells Yo-gwang that she wishes she had just one more day with Jun. Meanwhile, Jun, with the wreath in his hands, can’t hold back his tears either.

He composes himself and returns to the ceremony, sweetly placing the wreath on Yeon-hee’s head. He tells her that she’s stuck with him now, then adds, “I like you a lot, Yeon-hee-ah.” Yeon-hee tells him she likes him a lot too. Blinking back tears, Yeon-hee asks Jun to walk with her.

Before they head outside, Jun tells Yo-gwang that Yeon-hee doesn’t have much time left. Yo-gwang hands Jun the Sacrifice Potion, and is only able to say that he’s sorry.

Yeon-hee and Jun sit outside the temple. As the Northern Star flashes, Yeon-hee’s curse mark glows red. She collapses onto Jun’s shoulder in pain, grabbing his hand; she then loses consciousness and Jun lays her down.

As tears fall from Jun’s eyes, he thinks to himself: “The time I spent trying to save your life; I lived only because of you. I wanted to become someone who would save the one he loves.” He slowly uncorks the potion and drinks, then lies next to Yeon-hee. He says, “Now the only thing I have left is my sincere longing for you not to die. I only hope that in my last moment for you, that sincerity is enough.”

Yo-gwang watches the Northern Star flash, then fall. He goes back to Cheongbing Temple, but sees that the last candle remains unlit. Knowing what this means for Yeon-hee, he hurriedly heads out.

Meanwhile, Hyun-seo finds Hong-joo in her hideout, still very much alive.

Yo-gwang frantically searches the woods for Yeon-hee and Jun, then comes upon someone lying on the ground: It’s Jun, and he’s alone. Jun wakes, startled to see that Yeon-hee’s not next to him, then grabs the empty potion bottle, looking horrified.

Yeon-hee walks slowly in the woods, stopping to look back towards Jun. In her final message to him, she thinks: “Don’t hurt too much, and don’t miss me too much.”

As Jun desperately roams the woods for her, Yeon-hee continues her walk, stopping only to take out what must be the real Sacrifice Potion. Oh no…

Her voiceover continues: “I’ll treasure the days we spent together — days we’ll never have again. When memories of those days become ardent longing, we’ll meet again.” And then she drinks the potion, telling Jun: “Thank you. I love you, Jun-ah.”

In the temple, the final candle is lit.

At that moment, Hong-joo doubles over in pain, coughing up blood and screaming. Hyun-seo can only watch with pity in his eyes as Hong-joo writhes on the floor. Gasping for breath, she turns her eyes on him and asks if he’s enjoying watching her die.

Hong-joo says she hated this look in his eyes the most — the one that says, “You pitiful girl. Hopeless girl. Even after all you’ve been through, you still live so boldly.” But what could she do but live, she asks, and adds that everything’s not over yet.

“This pain, this curse — they won’t end when I die,” Hong-joo says. “The state of this country — do you think it’s my fault? There are those who sit on the throne, claiming it’s the will of the heavens, and those who follow blindly without knowing what’s right or wrong. Even after hundreds or thousands of years, the people will still be cursed and suffer until they die!”

As Hong-joo falls back on the floor in pain, she reaches her hand out and calls out to Hyun-seo. Hyun-seo slowly shakes his head, and finally speaks: “We’re all living cursed lives.” But then, he picks her up and folds her into his arms.

Hyun-seo carries a barely conscious Hong-joo out into the woods towards an area set up for a fire ritual; the fire is already burning bright. He asks Hong-joo if she’s in pain, and tells her that the pain is from the wounds inflicted upon her, and the wounds that Hong-joo has inflicted upon others in kind. He tells her that their sins — both hers and his — can’t be forgiven. She must carry the curse with her, but he will also go with her.

Hyun-seo carries Hong-joo towards the fire as Poong-yeon watches from a distance. Just as Hyun-seo reaches the fire, he looks back at Poong-yeon and gives him a smile. Then, instead of placing Hong-joo there, Hyun-seo walks into the fire with her.

Poong-yeon realizes what his father is doing and rushes towards the fire, but he can’t do anything to stop Hyun-seo. As the flames engulf the two, Hyun-seo and Hong-joo look into one another’s eyes, and Poong-yeon cries out for his father.

The next day, the queen dowager looks up at the sky over the palace to see the dark clouds rolling back, revealing blue skies. Tears gleam in her eyes.

A shellshocked Jun reenters Cheongbing Temple and stops in front of the candles, seeing that the last candle has been lit. Yo-gwang and Poong-yeon aren’t far behind. The three men each take in the sacrifice that Yeon-hee has made: Yo-gwang lowers his head in tears and leaves; Jun breaks down into sobs; and Poong-yeon sheds his tears quietly before heading off, leaving Jun alone with his grief.

Sometime later, civil service exams are taking place, and Jun registers for the medical exam. He takes his place among the other scholars, and when the test prompt is unveiled, he hesitates for a moment, closing his eyes before getting started. He’s done in no time, being the first to hand in his exam and heading out while all the other scholars stare in disbelief.

Aw, Yo-gwang and Soon-deuk are waiting for Jun outside the testing area. The two think Jun’s out so early because he bombed the exam, HA. Yo-gwang and Soon-deuk haven’t changed much, not being able to have a conversation without resorting to bickering, but they’re now married, looking a bit more presentable, and they even own their own tavern. Soon-deuk offers Jun drinks to cheer him up, but he declines, saying he’s got somewhere to be.

Jun catches up with Poong-yeon, who is about to leave town. Poong-yeon asks about Jun’s exam, to which Jun says he wants to keep the promise he made to Yeon-hee. Jun asks Poong-yeon if he has to go, and Poong-yeon says yes: He wants to go learn new things, and help more people — that’s his purpose in life. The two exchange warm goodbyes.

At the palace, the king is smiling and lost in thought when Jun, decked out in his new royal physician garb, comes up behind him and bows. The king hides his smile, giving Jun a once-over, and says the outfit doesn’t suit Jun at all, ha.

The king asks why Jun became a royal physician, and Jun replies that he wants to write a book before he dies: one that can help treat illnesses of both body and mind, so that it could help people all around the world — just like Jun helped the king. The king brushes off Jun’s words, saying he doesn’t need it, but as he walks away, he stops and turns, calling out to Jun: “I look forward to reading your book before I die.”

Jun returns to Cheongbing Temple and strolls around, his face betraying a multitude of emotions. He stops in front of the candles, now just a sea of melted wax, taking a moment at the last candle.

40 years later. An elderly man teaches a class of young children about Im Kkeok-jeong (a Robin Hood-esque figure who served as the inspiration for the Hong Gil-dong character), and fields a question from a student on how he can become a great doctor, too. The man — this is, of course, Heo Jun in his later years (cameo by Kim Gab-soo) — answers that a great doctor looks at a person’s heart first, instead of the body.

An older student comes by to pick Jun up, and the two go back to Jun’s chambers. The student watches reverently as Jun finishes writing the last page of the book he promised to write, the famed Dongeui Bogam (Mirror of Eastern Medicine), then asks why Jun included in the book things that have nothing to do with medicine, like seeing ghosts and making people fall in love. Jun simply replies that medicine isn’t just about tonics and treatments.

The two set out for the capital city. The journey through rough terrain wears Jun out, so he asks to stop and rest for a bit. The student goes to fetch some water, and as Jun catches his breath, he suddenly sees a kite flying high across the sky — and it looks awfully similar to the kite that started Jun’s journey towards Yeon-hee.

Unable to believe his eyes, Jun stands slowly, then walks toward the kite, his steps quickening. He comes across a clearing and sees Yeon-hee’s old house. A large, simple wooden frame marks the entrance to the yard; lit candles line the pathway from the yard to the house.

Without hesitation, Jun walks straight through the frame, and he’s instantly transformed back into the body of young Jun. He walks the candlelit path into Yeon-hee’s yard, his face trembling with emotion, and looks around. He sees swaths of colorful fabrics hanging throughout the property, along with a kite handle, right where Jun made that kite for Yeon-hee way back when.

He takes it all in and breaks into a smile, tears streaming down his face. He turns around slowly and comes face to face with a radiant Yeon-hee, who looks like she’s just been there waiting for him this whole time. She smiles, and he smiles back at her.

 
COMMENTS

What an incredibly poignant, bittersweet ending — I am SO happy (and teary) that the writers decided to go this way, even if it meant a heartbreaking death for Yeon-hee as she ended up being the one to sacrifice herself to get rid of the curse once and for all. It’s not that I didn’t want our main couple to get their happy ending; it’s just that the story had been so clear from the beginning that there was only one way to light that last candle. What I didn’t want was for the show to resort to the use of some kind of a deus ex machina to allow our two leads to live, and thankfully, it didn’t go that route.

Instead, Yeon-hee’s death was the right ending to this tale of curses, black magic, and the fight against an unjust system. Not only did her sacrifice lift the curse upon the royal family and the country, but it also allowed Jun to live his life, rise up beyond the ranks to which he was born, and become the Heo Jun we know in our history books. I especially loved the last moments of this episode, which ended with a hint of ambiguity: Jun and Yeon-hee do indeed meet again, though we’re not entirely sure if it’s in Jun’s mind, or if it’s in the afterlife. And that entire scene, from when Jun transforms into his younger self to when he comes face to face with Yeon-hee, was achingly beautiful.

Hong-joo will live on as the villainess who just wouldn’t quit, up until the bitter end. I tend to agree with some of the others who thought the show spent too much time going back and forth on Hong-joo’s battle against Yeon-hee (to the detriment of other parts of the story), but in the end, Hong-joo’s layered and complex character, so deftly played by Yeom Jung-ah, was fascinating to watch. I can appreciate that a person as vile as Hong-joo is still allowed a little bit of compassion; she may have gotten what was coming to her, but even then, thanks to Hyun-seo, she didn’t have to face death alone.

In his last scenes, Hyun-seo did so many things that are totally aligned with what we know of him as a character: He tried to exercise moral leadership as best he could, by calling out Hong-joo for her sins, acknowledging his own sins, and offering comfort to both Hong-joo and Poong-yeon just before walking into the fire. I’m also really glad that Hyun-seo made sure the curse would be eradicated through Poong-yeon’s spiritual fire — otherwise we might have had a reprise on the evils of black magic for another twenty episodes.

For the most part, the finale did justice to the characters that we’ve come to know and love (or hate). I loved Yo-gwang and Soon-deuk’s path to romance and the lightness and humor they brought to the story, and it was great to see that Poong-yeon found peace and a purpose in life. I was even okay with Ok’s ending, since it at least involved some self-reflection on his part, even if it was only through the help of a potion. I will say, I wished Ok’s mother had some sort of comeuppance as well, given all that she did to make our Jun and his mother so miserable — but maybe having her only son exposed for what he is and imprisoned is enough.

Though I was pretty much hooked on Mirror of the Witch from start to finish, the drama wasn’t without fault. As many commenters have pointed out, there certainly were some inconsistencies and details that the show glossed over (Who was it, exactly, that revived Yo-gwang? Was it the random mystery man with the Sacrifice Potion? If so, who the heck is he, and why did he have a copy of the Mauigeumseo??). I also could have used a little more focus on Jun and Yeon-hee throughout the latter half of the show tackling the candles head-on, instead of waiting until the final episode.

But those are minor quibbles. Overall, throughout its whole run, the story was beautifully crafted, the visuals were stunning, and this team of talented actors brought these characters to life perfectly. In my opinion, the characters — all of them so nuanced, so interesting — and the incredible performances by the entire cast are what made the show worth watching. In particular, I’ll always remember this show for introducing me to the gem that is Yoon Shi-yoon, and I’m thankful to have been a part of the ride.

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The "40년 후" chyron popped up and I gasped in horror. Then the kite showed up and I gasped again. And then that damn xylophone kicked in and I was a teary mess.

Not a perfect show, but a lovely show. And at least any weaknesses were spots where the plot got a little repetitive or threadbare, not weaknesses in style or acting. Gorgeous as a painting all the way through, and with a villain who finally was more than a moustache-twirling maniac. (She was a blood-spitting, black magic wielding maniac, sure - but she was SMART.)

Wasn't a fan of YSY before now (Flower Boy Next Door made a bad impression) but can't wait to see him again.

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+1

As always Miranda my thoughts but your words.

I liked YSY in FBND but then I had seen him in his previous works so I knew where he was stretching from.

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it's been days since the finale and I still have mixed feelings about this. part of me understand why the writers did what they did, but the other part is kind of frustrated... lol we spent 19 episodes with our leads - the few ones who never did a thing wrong and always had their heart at the right place - fighting to have a simple and normal life, while everyone else was trying to kill them. their love was one of the main forces that kept them fighting against the black magic (I know they wanted to save the royal family and the country, but deep inside they wanted to be together) and, at the end of the day, we only had a few minutes on the last episode of them actually together, just enjoying each other's company.

I'm ok with sad/bittersweet endings. I'm ok with my main couple not ending together and my rational side knows that the ending we had makes sense. but I loved these characters so much that I can't help but feel how unfair it is that the only ones with a 100% good heart didn't have what they wanted. I know life sucks most of the time, but still.... lol

while watching the last episodes, I was really mad until that last sequence, when I got a little bit sentimental lol for me, he died while waiting for the boy and when he "pass" through that gate, he's meeting her in their afterlife. my tears were dried at that point lol

I think the drama did a good job handling YSY and KSR age gap. I couldn't buy that they were supposed to be the same age in the drama, but I rooted for that couple since ep 1. I blame YSY and KSR for this ofc because they have that lost puppy face when they're crying and their characters were SO GOOD. I'll miss them.

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Btw I wonder what would happen if Yeon Hee didn't break the curse after Northern Star disappear? Would she became a witch or what? Or she will die and disappear 'cause her strength(?) is weakened?

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Yeah me too. If she is to die too because she did not break the curse, why then does she have to sacrifice herself? Is it because to end the curse on the palace, or maybe to kill the evil witch?

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yes.. if she died because of not breaking the curse in time, black magic would still be around, cursing (?!) the royal family and the whole country. that's how I understood, at least lol

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I think she would die, but the black magic would still be around, with the royal family and the country suffring? not sure though.

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She would have died because it was clearly written in the "Grimoire of Curses" that the person trying to end the curse dies if the candles are not lit within the allotted time

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I had mix feelings about the ending myself but I think i have accepted that, I think he could have been crossing over and finally see yeon-hee. I have recently found out heo joon was a historical figure. I will miss this serious really was sad for the ending though :(

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I totally cried when I watched that ending. I was thinking, what the? Did she die? Or was she alive all this time and they just met after 40years? Was it hallucination? The ending was ambiguous for me. But still, it broke my heart.
I want our leads to be together but that will be totally of the plot so I understand why things ended that way. I just want to see Yoon Shi-yoon and Kim Sae-ron together again, in some other drama, living the happy love story they should've had.

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I thought that too!! They had such awesome chemistry together that I wouldn't mind seeing them in another drama.

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When older Jun crossed the gate then switched to younger Jun, I interpreted that they finally live happily together. In another life...

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That's how I saw it too.

Jun passing on after a life well lived and being in the afterlife with Yeon-hee.

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Same here, I want to believe they're meeting in their afterlife.
God, it's been days since I've seen the finale, and I'm still choking up just reading the recap. I've never felt like this for any other drama, and I've been a K-drama fan for 10 years already. Guess I'll have to watch the last scene again and again...That is MY curse!

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yeah me too....i also thought the ending was confusing....so i made one conclusion if they're together again in heaven when Jun cross the bridge...but afterall the story of MOTW make any sense if we also talk about magic

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Jun and Yeon-Hee, a potion that will lessen my heartbreak, and to get over withdrawal symptom please.
The ending was just so beautiful and well done. Totally satisfied in a long long time.

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Ha! You drank the satisfaction potion:). I did too!

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I wasnt entirely satisfied with the ending as some loose ends remained untied (who revived yo gwang) but I loved most of the characters and their endings! most of all i loved the relationship between KSR and YSY! despite the lack of traditional romantic scenes this was a couple that managed to circumvent their real life age gap and convey a beautiful and pure love :)) don't think this ending was the only possible way for the show to go however but I felt like I had expected the ending to be unpredictable.
don't you think sometimes when fans come up with a variety of endings for a show (eg who will light the last candle) the writers will just make an ending that no one thought of, even if it's disappointing/weird. I've seen other shows where this happened too and while I understand why they do it(to surprise?) i hate it if it's at the risk of the show's plot.
anywayy thank you to the recappers of the drama for helping me stay updated on the show even when I gave up on the more dry episodes!

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Did this drama have flaws? yes. Did this drama keep me hooked every week to come back for more? YES. The most satisfying/masochistic feeling I get from watching a drama is the crack factor and boy was I addicted. I'm still conflicted about the ending, you always root for a happy one, but that last scene was so beautifully acted/directed that I felt that they did get their happy ending in a way. Once I realized I was in a pool of (happy?) tears I knew the ending got to me.

Ill be suffering from withdrawals for a period of time. Hopefully not 40 years.

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I've seen 10 years later, 20 years later but.. 40 years later is a first. I was flabbergasted when i saw that ?

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I didn't get to watch the whole show but I had to watch this episode for Kim Gab-soo <3. He is one of my fav legendary 50s and beyond.

I'm happy that this show ended with the historical Heo Joon. I knew he wasn't going to die. He had to live to write the Dongeui Bogam which he is still famous for.

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I'm so dumb I thought it was a coincidence that his name was Heo Jun. Like. I didn't realize he was THAT Heo Jun until he sat for the exam (yuuuuup, I'm that dumb hahah)

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Nope. You're not the only only one. I, too, didn't realize it until the end.

Wasn't a big fan of YSY until this drama (and 1N2D)

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You are not. I didn't think they'd end with anything related to the real Heo Joon.

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I loved this show, but I hated the crap out once-again-the-woman-dies ending. You create this beautiful badass character and then the only way you see fit to finish up your narrative is that she kills herself in some noble sacrifice pseudo Romeo and Juliet crap? Booooooo-ring.

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I love fantasy sageuks as much (well, probably more) than the next person but this is a recurring theme with their endings, that the woman dies and they meet agaain in the next life (Arang and the Magistrate, Gu Family Book etc)

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Yeah, true. But this one somehow felt so much more insulting to me. It was an affront to that character that she just literally went off and died somewhere. I'd have been ok with her dying if she went out swinging. Or throwing people around like rag dolls with her witch powers. I actually was fine with the Arang and the Magistrate ending... it made a weird kind of sense. Gu Family Book-- ugh. Let's not talk about that one.

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But i thought her dying made sense and was so beautiful, coz she actually died for Heo Jun who she loves so much. The last time she thought Heo Jun died she stormed into the palace in a badass fury, felt like xmen Storm, lol.

She didn't sacrifice for the royal family but for Heo Jun, coz she knows that if she doesn't do it, Heo Jun will totally die for her, which she can't bear to let happen.

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While I can see the need for someone to do at the end (after all, that was a major recurring theme), it felt like a bit of a cop-out when it was Yeon-hee who ended up dying when everyone on "team YH" had the goal of ensuring that she wasn't killed and to lift the curse that was on her.

And while I loved the cameo by Ahn Gil-kang, it was too much of an easy way out/lazy writing by the writer to have some mysterious guy hand Yo-gwang a bottle of deadly potion (as it was never really showing how Yo-gwang came back from death/near death).

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Wouldn't have made Jun based on a historical character since that pretty much meant YH was the one who was going to die (and what an anti-climatic way to go).

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Ugh you know what, your comment made me realize there IS a way out for this story.

Yeon-hee should've made the Sacrifice Potion for herself. She drinks it -> Dies -> her wish to save her loved ones get fulfilled -> the final candle is lit because of her wish -> she comes back to life.

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Ah..such bittersweet ending. Pass the tissues, please. Sniff. Some people said they prefer happy endings but we all know that's impossible. Heo Jun lived his life to the fullest..just like what Yeon Hee wanted of him. He died after completing the book..and found his YH again. Sure..40 years meant he have married another..have his own family..but in the afterlife..he met his first love..his true soul mate again.

The drama has such beautiful cinematography and sountracks...and those somehow made the romance between HJ & YH seemingly more pure and true.

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Actually, Heo Jun, the historical figure, didn't marry! So we can imagine he lived his life dedicated to his one true love :)

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Feels like Gu Family Book ending all over again, although admittedly it's better than GFB's ending and ONLY 40 years later not some 400 years later.
The show went downhill from ep 10 onwards. It's still enjoyable and the characters make the drama memorable, but it lost its charm and magic from that point. Part of me wants Jun and Yeon Hee to be happily ever after, with the curse or not. But yeah I guess you'll never get really REALLY Happy Ending in Sageuk. A bittersweet ending is probably the fittest one, considering the theme.

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GFB ending is better. Kang Chi was able to see the girl (forgot Suzy's character..lol) even if it took him 400 years. And perhaps they will spend a few years before the girl dies again.

How about here? In the afterlife, maybe?

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GFB's ending was terrible, absolutely terrible.

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of course it is terrible.. but compared to this, MOTW's ending was more terrible. Atleast to me.

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Thank you for the beautifully written recap:) and its like you've drugged into my mind and expressed exactly how I felt about this drama. The cast, crew, story were woven together perfectly:).

I loved every moment of the show and was completely satisfied with the ending.

SideNote. I'm an even bigger fan of the cast now. I've seen other woke they've done (what originally drew me into the drama was YSY and KSR). and now I'm looking forward to more from them..all of them:)

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I have a mix feelings on this ending. All through out the series they are trying to save the life of Yeon-hee and in the end she decided to kill herself instead. What a way to troll the sacrifice of the people who died for her and the viewers as well.

HOWEVER, the ending was poignant and heartbreaking that I am letting it pass. I also like how the Jun had a meaningful life after loosing Yeon-hee. He might have not saved the life of the girl she loves (and also his mom) but he certainly saved hundreds of lives becoming a doctor. I really love the part where they finally met.

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when YeonHui ended up dying. I felt like i wasted 20 hours of my life. It's kind of childish. But what happened to those 19 episodes of trying to save her? Where is her "happily ever after?".

And also, after all what Hong Joo have done, She had an easy death in the arms of her love. While YH on the other hand died alone.

Where's the justice here?

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"And also, after all what Hong Joo have done, She had an easy death in the arms of her love. While YH on the other hand died alone."

RIGHT?! i think that's what gets me with this ending. I feel like everyone in this drama had the best ending they could have - giving their circumstances - except our main couple. and they were really the good guys during the whole journey lol

like I know life is not fair and all, but damn it... it really left me with this frustrating feeling at the end. lol

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You are taking the rant out of my mouth! Have been stewing on this since last sunday, duh. Hoong Joo died in the arms of the man she loves, after spouting out misuse of power by the ones who have 'em (which is what she actually DID). I mean, if somebody just watch the last episode, they probably would think she is the tragic heroine.
We want justice, writer-nim!

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Totally! Hong Joo did some really bad stuff, but you can see the legit grievance that led her to become so corrupt. She was really tragic, and a great villain. I would think that our heroine would get at least that good of a send off.

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I binged-watched this drama in a few days leading up to finale week (which I'm glad I did, because I hate waiting for dramas that Ive become fully engrossed in to air!) and honestly it was an amazing few days lol.

The ending felt rushed which made me clock that really, the moments leading up to the King finally being relieved from his affliction was were the writer must've planned for it to all end.
The build up around that moment was honestly really brilliant and if it wrapped up around the Kings affliction, it would have been a fantastic finale imo.

But regardless, when Yeon-Hee took her life instead of HJ I was relieved. If I'm being honest, it was right for her to die. That man spent a great portion of his life helping her, putting her first before himself, even up till the very end. It wasn't just him, but so many people were risking their lives for YH, so it was good that in the end, she was the one that had to go.

Yoon Shi Yoon blew me away with his acting. I've seen him in a previous drama which he also was good in, but he outdid himself here. His ability to convey a variety of emotions is top-notch, even his face at the end made me well up with tears.

My favourite scene ever in this whole drama was the time HJ spent with YH in the temple. The moment YH tried to pick up a box that was too high and HJ got it for her.. The way he looked at her.. Ugh! Too beautiful.

Lee Ji-Hoon who played the King?? This was his breakout role imo! He did so well, everybody did and it was the life, the depth, that all the actors gave their characters which made this drama so compelling.

Its not one my all time fave dramas (but if anyone knew what was, I'm sure you'd all be like "really??") but the best one I've seen this year so far and I'm REALLY picky! Lol. xx

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I was pleasantly surprised by the ending and thought that her dying for true love was poignant and very in character. She honestly could not have coped if Jun ended up killing himself for her. We saw truth to this in the beginning of the show when she found out strangers died because of her actions (more like HJ's actions), when she found out what her curse exactly was, and then again later when she went all vengeful when she thought Jun was killed.

Overall a very satisfying show that always left me waiting for the next episode and ended with tears, joy, and overall feeling of rightness!

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I pretty much cried throughout the entire episode and it is rare that a drama wrings out so many tears from me (admittedly, I consciously stay away from melodramas). However, this drama captured my heart and interest throughout. I still think 16 episodes would have been best.

With that being said, I was conflicted about the ending because I wanted so badly for them to win their battle and live happily together (I mean really they went through hell and back!). However, after thinking about it I realized that maybe Yeon Hee dying was the most fitting (since we couldn't wish away the curse).

Although Yeon Hee never asked to be put in that position in the first place, she did not want the person she loved most to die for her (and subsequently live her life without him). That makes her the real hero in this story and I am here for it. In the end she accomplished what she set out to do (break the curse) and the people that loved and protected her continued to live on to the fullest and with greater purpose and determination. Sidenote -They really could have made Hong Joo look like she was in more pain/agony than that, it was only fitting but maybe that just means i'm evil. ha.

Lastly, I interpreted the ending scenes as them reuniting in the afterlife and I was really pleased with that. I genuinely believe in true love transcending our physical form (what can I say i'm a romantic). Their love for each other was so deep that they met 40 years later in the afterlife to continue to love each other forever <3 I'm really going to miss these characters.

P.S I may have typed an entirely incoherent essay, apologies if i made zero sense! Going to find some tissue now.

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@JustJo,

I assure you, your post is crystal clear and coherent... and I understand and concur with every word.

I, too, should have bought stock in Kleenex...

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I totally get how people are torn by the ending. But to me, it makes so much sense. Although YH was often in danger, requiring Jun to save her over and over again, the actual goal in the story was to break the curse, not save YH's life. While I wanted her to live happily ever after with Jun, I was never 100% sure that she could avoid death, even if the curse was broken, because the curse was a part of her from the very beginning. YH's life had been nothing but pain up to that point, and if Jun had died to break the curse, her life would have continued to be pain until she died. Death was the only way YH could truly get rid of the curse in her life.

I will miss this show and these characters so much. The actors brought this story to life in a beautiful way and I commend them and all involved for a story well told.

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Am still feeling despondent over the ending, and after a week too T_T
The biggest disappointment for me is they were handed the solution to the curse (someone has to be a sacrifice) by an unknown ajusshi and they (and us, the viewer) have just to accept is as the die die the only way. Huh? I think it's an insult to our intelligence that we just have to believe that this mister is the know-all without giving any reason, unless they are planning to make a sequel, or prequel, or I missed something somewhere.
And I know the ending is basically the happy end that the world needed because Jun needs to write his book and Yeon Hui needs to save a lot of people instead of just herself, but what about their own happy ending T_T So bitching out about the ending coz I want my happy ending, like nowwww, not in another 40 years... Was remembering Jun telling Yeon Hee that he found his reason to life, which is to save Yeon Hui, but then the decision was taken from him and he has to save the world instead.
Also, finding it hard to believe that Poong Yeon didn't have a clue on Hyun Soe suicide plan, coz the fire got stairs, yes stairs, to walk straight into the big big bonfire. Like, duh!
Still love this drama for its beautifully depicted and acted characters, the brainy villainy, and the fantasy vibe, but so wishing that there might be more explanation, and a happy ending.

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I love this drama from start to finish :) I think the ending suited that drama well...it would've been weird had thay miraculously pulled a happy ending.

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And so I wept and wept and wept for their sincere yet tragic love. Uhhh, never imagine that the writer will take turned and twisted it into a tragic love lost story a la Jdorama. Duh, my heart...

KGS as older Jun is only worsen the knotted in my heart. He nailed the way he poignantly portraying the sadness and longing. The the last scene... Duh! My heart constricted and pulled, hard. I wept all over again.

Thanks for the recap, Chocolate!

And thank you to all dear Benies friends, for the company in this ride, watching this wonderful drama together. See you around!

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I'm surprised at how invested I was in these characters. I don't think I've cried this much since King 2 Hearts. I was a little stunned that they didn't produce some miracle happy ending. I appreciated all the layers in the story and the characters. Their motivations and relationships felt real and it seems fitting for it to end the way it did. In real life loved ones die and others are left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on. I loved that that they all lived their best lives even with Yeon Hee gone. Overall I loved this show even with its faults and missteps. I will really miss watching Jun and Yeon Hee together.

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The very first k-drama I ever watched was "Me, too, Flower", and though that train jumped off the rails and crashed into crazy town, I stuck with the series because of YSY's magnetic performance. I've loved seeing him do anything; he's amazing! This series just confirmed for me hiw awesome he is.

Of course, everyone in this drama was great. KSR was a pleasure to watch. Both of the actors from "School 2013" (Yo-kwang & the king) had bigger roles in this series and I think they did a marvelous job. I love them all! Thank you for an engaging drama and for the recaps here. Now, onto "W"!!!!!

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Warts and all, I really enjoyed this drama. Yes, lots of poignancy. I felt more of that than sadness during the last two episodes. I think the lead male, YSY, did a great job showing true love. Sir Monk was a support system for both SR & HJ. They couldn't have gotten through any of it w/out him.

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I gave up on the main couple's story line by episode 13. Only stuck around for the awesome villain.

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Okay...whew

So I did watch until the finish even though the plot got sluggish and repetitive there in the middle. There were times when I was like really! Are you really going to male the same mistake all over again! This drama could have been about 4-6 episodes shorter than it was.

But, all in all a nice finish that did make some sense plot wise. I still was despondent over their being separated. Although is it just me or is anyone else thinking that the Queen Mother could have sacrificed herself in her daughters place? Just a thought...

Finally, When she died and he didn't did anyone else get Gu Family Book flashbacks! It sent a shiver down my spine. Brrr
Thank god the ending didn't follow that form.

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I have a lot of complaints about this drama, mostly because of the writing, but I just can't discredit how awesome the actors were. Each actor performed so well that I stuck around just to watch them pour their hearts out into the characters. MotW also had the best special effects I've seen in a kdrama. Those CG people deserve more than just a pat in the back!

It surprised me how invested I was in the love story. What Jun and Yeonhee had was so genuine. It's beautiful. I'm so grateful that we spent more time seeing them together in the last 2 episodes. Although I enjoyed watching Hongjoo, she took all the spotlight from everyone so it was great to see more of the remaining cast.

Kwak Shiyang! He was amazing in this drama. I've always thought of him as the pretty guy who's acting is so-so. Totally proved me wrong.

Thank you so much for recapping this show! Wouldn't be this much fun without you, guys!

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Yeah, the CG people, producers, and network brass deserve and should receive accolades for maintaining the CG quality for all 20 episodes and not skimping on the budget.

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Thanks for the CGI reminder. That tiger was phenomenal, as were the guardian wolves.

This was my first time seeing KSY -- another member of the cast I'll keep my eyes peeled for.

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Ok, now I know why they always had those "perfect date" before "noble separation" (I remove the "idiot" word here) in almost every kdorama. It's a tradition which even already exist in Joseon era!
Long live the "I need to leave him/her because I love him/her so let's lift him/her to heaven then throw him/her to hell so there's no way he/she can move on from me after I leave him/her" trope!

One the other note, it may be the first kdrama where nobody complaint on the lack of skinship and no kiss between OTP. Well, considering everyone's concern on the age gap during casting news, the end result is quite understandable.
(even there's complaint on Prime Minister and I even with the age gap, or in case of female lead age there's also complaint on Cantabile Tomorrow or High School Love On)

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I love how you leave the word "idiot" out.. ^^

Oh, and we don't complaint over the non existence of Sub ppl as well.. *LOL*

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honestly sepaking, i am not satisfied with the ending. why? actually it doesnt mind for me if yeon hee was dead. but why there is no somebody looking for her and burried her body. they sunk in their sadness. maybe some people will think that they did it, but why they didnt show it. i think it will better if they show the way they looking for and burried his body. i am sorry for my bad speaking. i can't speak english well.

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Many thanks to all the MOTW recappers - chocolatte, SailorJumun, girlfriday, javabeans, hazelair, HappilyEverAfter, and opensesame. Mirror of the Witch, truly an underrated gem of a show and a fine example of how to excel at mixing and balancing multiple genres. We were treated to horror, fantasy, romance, drama, and historical. And a lovely OST to boot.

Watching MOTW week to week/on the weekend was anything but mundane. The viewer could expect to be enchanted, entranced. Out of the starting gate on May 13th with the very 1st episode, writer Yang Hyuk-Moon held the audience spellbound and didn't let up on holding the rapt attention of the audience with the July 16th finale.

Yum Jung-Ah as Shaman Hong-Joo: impressive acting, a memorable character, a noteworthy performance, and a layered villain.

The ending - not surprised by it, expected as much. Yes it's bittersweet but it certainly didn't take away or destroy my overall enjoyment of the MOTW.

My take on how things played out:
Princess Yun Hee / Seo Ri was born/transplanted from one womb to another through the use of dark magic. YH/SR's death helped defeat/marked an end to the era of dark magic. We've watched as YH/SR and HJ mixed potions (to grant wishes/light candles) but the storyline never really delved into how the famed Dongeui Bogam (Mirror of Eastern Medicine) actually came about. Hence, from the beginning the media/press releases for MOTW touting the historical HJ (who we see in episode 20) was always in the back of my mind even though for the majority of the drama (episodes 1-19) fantasy HJ (??) was center stage (with YH/SR, who is not a part of real history therefore a fantasy too).

Yo-Gwang: the weakest link in the drama character wise. A lot of the problems encountered by our main characters (Joon, Yun Hee / Seo Ri, Hyun-Seo, and Poong-Yeon) were unnecessarily prolonged and could have been avoided all together if not for the actions/inaction of Yo-Gwang. If he had simply followed through on orders and not ignored the tale tale signs of what should be done and/or was happening right in front of his face. In the end, he's the character that is brought back to life from death/survives near death experiences more than once (ending on a happy note in terms of a romantic pairing). Yeah right.

So excited about the return of Yoon Shi-Yoon from military duty. To have him back onscreen in such a great project like Mirror of the Witch just makes me beam with delight.

Hope Choi Sung Won is successful in his cancer treatments/recovers from his battle with acute leukemia.

No regrets about watching MOTW whatsoever, I made the right decision. A great follow up to to the previous Friday & Saturday jTBC drama Ms. Temper & Nam Jung-Gi.

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Been meaning to ask, would someone be willing to provide a link to an article, blogpost, etc. where it mentions MOTW was extended from 16 to 20 episodes?

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I'm sorry that I couldn't offer more help,but as somebody who searched about MOTV before it even got started,I know that Wikipedia,Asian wiki and dramafever sported this " No. Of eps:16".
But now,they sport "20 eps" and that's how I got to know it was extended.
Try this,anyway.
http://dramanice.biz/watch-online/mirror-of-the-witch/episode-15

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Thanks peony.

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I cried a lot but at the same time I was relieved to see them together again. Even being in the afterlife, it was so comforting to know that they ended up together. I guess it was the best way to end it.

All in all, it has been very entertaining and a lovely show. It filled my summer weekend breakfasts with adventure and thrill, haha!!
The actors were all superb, some of them really impressive. I was already a fan of Yoon Shi Yoon and he didn't dissapoint. But also Yeon Hee, Hong Hoo, Poong Yeon, the king...all of them made an impression and I am looking forward to their next projects.

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My Fridays and Saturdays will never be the same. I truly enjoyed Mirror of the Witch. The characters were utterly fascinating and the production was top notch! I have no complaints regarding the writing, direction, or cinematography. I loved it all!

With that said, I really had to sit and think about the ending. Since they never addressed the whole Yo-Gwang revival scene, I assumed it was going to come into play in the final episode to save Jun.

What we got was completely different! After all the suffering Yeon-hee went through, I really wanted a happy ending for her. I could not see the reason she had to die. But after thinking about it, I get why they decided to end it that way.

I love the thought of Yeon Hee waiting for Jun in the afterlife (my interpretation). I loved the final scene when he walked through the archway! You could see the joy on his face and when he finally came face to face with the woman he loved after all these years, my heart couldn't take it! The love shining on both of their faces had me squealing with happiness!

Overall, the ending was a great way to end this fantastic story. I look forward to watching more from Yoon Shi-yoon and Kim Sae-ron. Especially if it's another drama with them together!

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As much as I loved the characters, the initial story trajectory, the scoring, and the visuals, I must say I was pretty disappointed at how the writers decided to end MOTW. It wasn't so much about the death of Yeon-hui, because I could've accepted that. Besides, it's obvious that Jun wouldn't die at that point because he's supposed to be a historical figure who had written the famous medical book.

I was honestly looking forward to an epic showdown between HJ and YH. Because didn't YH's biological mother predicted a violent death for the shamaness? But HJ's death turned out to be a rather 'peaceful' one. Argh!

I was anticipating a bit more Harry Potter-Voldermort kind of climax. Flashes of lightning, spewing out of curses and spells in the middle of the night. Blood. Chopped up HJ. Instead, that. *sigh*

Nonetheless, my love for MOTW will forever be in my heart. Thanks to all the valiant recappers! <3

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On hindsight, I realize that YH's sacrifice projected the growth of her character. In the beginning, she wanted to live JUST BECAUSE. She wanted to be acknowledged. She wanted answers. But in the end, she chose to be the bigger person and sacrificed her life for the good of all, happily ever after be damned. Her interactions with Jun and the love that blossomed between them gave her that boost to go beyond her own desires and consider the fate of the kingdom. If that wasn't princess-like of her in the truest sense of the word, I don't know what is. :)

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This show is Beautiful. With all it's heartbreak and tragedy...it is very beautiful. It rips my heart, but still leaves me with a warm feeling seeing the unconditional and selfless love between two people.

Usually, i am all for a person moving on in life - but i am so grateful that Jun spent 40 years of his life waiting to reunite with Yeon Hi. I loved the fact that he honored Yeon Hi's sacrifice when no one (except a handful of people) knows what this girl actually did for the people. To the people of the kingdom she is still the cursed princess who is the root cause of their problems. They will never know that it's her sacrifice that saved the kingdom in a way. That is what breaks my heart so much - Yeon hi never got acknowledged - as a princess, as a daughter or even as someone who sacrificed for the greater good. So i am grateful at-least Jun spent his life honoring her sacrifice and serving people who got saved in all this too. But what is amazing is that, although Yeon Hi started her quest to break the curse because her father insisted upon it, at the end of the day she sacrificed to save Jun's life. That's what makes Jun living his life and valuing her sacrifice even more beautiful.

The ending - one way to interpret it is as Yeon Hi being stuck with Jun forever...in his memories. Just as he said during their marriage - that she is now stuck with him forever *sheds a tear*. Which is why in a way i interpret the ending as Jun's imagination - a happy place where he can go and FIND Yeon hi or where Yeon hi finds him... she is always with him since she is stuck to him forever.

But i love Jun finding Yeon Hi in his afterlife theory too. Because in a way even Yeon Hi was waiting for Jun....and as he fulfils his promise of living a meaningful life, she calls him back to him to reunite forever.

Whatever the interpretation...i love the ending...there could not have been a better ending. However bitter-sweet or sad, as chocolatte said there could not have been any other way because it was time and again it was reiterated that there HAS to be a sacrifice. If there was a sudden twist, although i'd be happy the OTP is together, i'd be wanting for more story-wise. But i like that the writers had the guts to go for this ending and staying true to the story. I appreciate their sincerity towards the story and their characters. This is the very reason that this show will remain one of my all time favorites. It was a great journey and i will remember Mirror of the witch as a show with a beautiful love story and not as a show with a sad ending.

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I agree with you wholeheartedly about this drama! It's one of my all time favourite now, and I feel kinda sad that I only get to watch it this late!
The cast did such amazing job that they made me shed many tears to this most spectacular fantasy drama this year!
I think they chose the right ending..
Even if it's tragedy, it's 100% better than wonder-couple plot we see nowadays.

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What I liked about the drama:

* set dressing (beautiful, I loved the temple-on-the-rock-entrance, the bridges, vines and Yeon-Hee's house in the forest) and costuming
* acting (all-around strong performances)
* characterization (believable, clear motivation)
* atmosphere (helped a lot by the sometimes creepy traditional Korean, sometimes funny classical soundtrack)
* camera and cinematography (they managed to keep the soft, ethereal feeling of the trailers)
* not afraid of sad endings

What I did not like:
* the writing!! (Boy, was this drama repetitive and spinning its wheels in the second half - and then it had to cram it the last three candles in the last two episodes?? And hey, let's throw in some plot obstacles in the form of the queen who is against marrying a commoner for good measure...)
* faulty logic (no guards in the palace? people walking into the bedrooms of royalty without any problems? Deus-ex-machina monk who saves Yo-Gwang and only reappears at the end? Nobody can find Yeon-Hee's body? Unlimited supply of female goons?)
* making characters extremely dumb for the sake of having a plot (the monks deciding on stupid, illogical actions, Poong-Yoon lighting the fire and then being shocked to see his father walk into it, everybody listening to Hoong-Joo and nobody stopping possessed-murderous head monk etc. etc. )

It makes me sad to think how this drama could have benefitted from somebody revising the script for internal logic and plot progression...

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chocolatte,

Thanks so much for the final recap! And "well done!" to the entire recapping crew who made this supernatural tale more accessible and enjoyable.

What a great ending!!! Watching it raw was amazing... There were a bunch of twists that I never saw coming.

For me, as tragic as it was, Yeon-Hee's ending was apropos. From the get-go, her very existence was the result of black magic. Her twin brother died because of it, so how could she be exempt? More importantly, there was a larger curse that had to be lifted -- the one on Joseon -- and she was the only party in a position to accomplish that.

I'm still mystified by the Sacrifice Potion. So Jun gets the bottle of Sacrifice Potion Lite, and Yeon-Hee cooks up her own batch of Sacrifice Potion Industrial
Strength? Or did Yeon-Hee pull a switcheroo and snitch the real McCoy from Yo-Gwang or Jun while I was somehow mesmerized fnord?

I realized later that Sacrifice Drink Lite did actually deliver MIB's stated effect -- but 40 years later, after Jun completed his own mission. As I understood the scene, the elderly Jun (yay, Kim Gab-soo!!) sat down to rest and either expired on the spot... or as he stepped through the gateway as he followed the kite to its tether. Either interpretation works for me. It was his transition as he crossed the threshold that got me where I live.

As for the Man in Black (yay for Ahn Gil-kang!!!), in the earlier part of the scene, Yo-Gwang says to Soon-Deuk, "Wound? What? My wound? Do you know how many times I almost died?" It makes me suspect that Yo-Gwang might be a lot older than he looks... and that MIB could be another Taoist master on par with Hyun-Seo.

By the time the curse descends on Hong-Joo, she is a shell of her earlier self. Instead of leading an apocalyptic last stand between Evil and Everything Else, she goes out with a whimper in the arms of her teacher on a one-way stroll into the internal fire. Another parallel with a twist... as Yeon-Hee makes like a cat and sneaks off alone to meet her destiny.

I was touched by the scene with Hyun-Seo and Poong-Yeon. In a delayed response to his son's query as to why he didn't trust him or ask for his help, His Excellency did exactly that. But only after PY was rid of the black magic and had come to understand his misapprehension of protecting Yeon-Hee.

It was a treat to meet so many fine new-to-me actors in this production. YSY, Yum Jung-Ah, Lee Ji-Hoon, Kim Sae-Ron, Lee Yi-Kyung, and Lee Sung-Jae (whom I actually saw in THE KING'S FACE, but didn't recognize)... among others. Really, the entire cast and crew did a great job. The costuming and music were gorgeous, and I am left with beautiful fairy tale memories. Thanks, MOTW!

Thanks to all the Beanies and recappers whose thoughtful posts and considered opinions were such fun to read and discuss. If I don't cross paths with you over at BEAUTIFUL MIND, then for sure at MOON LOVERS: SCARLET HEART: GORYEO starting in August. ;-)

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Goodbye,PP
It was a pleasure to read your kind and insightful comments at the end of almost each and every MOTW recap.
Are you a chemistry or English literature student?Both will explain your use of language.Anyways,I won't be here anymore for more than a year,since I have exams.Commenting is something I shouldn't be doing.So bye everybody,I'll sure miss you all.

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Aloha, Peony!

Aw, shucks. I'm glad I was able to contribute to the discussions. ;-)

Just stopped by a year after the finale, and found your message. I hope that your studies are going well, and that you ace your exams.

To answer your question, I did a double major in English Literature and German, and could have had a minor in history if I'd taken another course or two. My dad is a retired chemical engineer, my kid sister is a biochemist by training, and our uncle was a chemistry professor. Alas, I have no mind for chemistry, except of the kitchen variety. I've had a life-long interest in gardening, herbal medicine, metaphysics, alternative healing of various kinds -- and now am a full-blown fan of Kdrama. ;-)

If you have not been able to do much Kdrama watching, I just want to tip you off to another wonderful drama with Yoon Si-Yoon. THE GREATEST HIT is winding up on 22 July 2017, and it is a blast. It has been my weekly shot of sunshine while live-watching some dark thrillers.

Here's hoping our paths cross again at DramaBeans after you get through your exams. Hwaiting! ;-)

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This drama make me wasting of my time for almost 20 hours.
It so deabak until ep.6 and everything become lost logic, so many error in script, the pilot moving so slow and the way they fire candles so random and stupid. The main character make me feel they stupid more and more after ep and ep, they really don't realize the important of broke the crush or care about death of supporting characters.
So wasting of time, until the end. I don't know the meaning of this drama. Is that "The way you born not good, you will die" or "You is the unnecessary with this country, you will die" or "Stupid, fall in romance love? Die".
I really hate Yo Gwang character and his loveline. It's unnecessary with this drama. He so stupid and why he don't die?. He always hiding the truth which everyone need to know.
And where they get the book show how to broke the crush? Have a similar event like that before?
So Huh Joon don't have any talent. He just copy the book of Yeon Hee. Woa, what a same for Huh Joon.
So much thinks i want to tell but i think i will never watch drama of this writer (and director too) again.

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Its a pity you did not get the drama but it's ok. It wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

Jun did have talent. He just cured "supernatural" diseases by "copying" Yeon Hi's book. Oh btw, that was not book of Yeon Hi...the grimoire of curses was lent to her too...so i guess every witch just "copies" it. It was clearly shown Jun giving his exams, you think they ask supernatural mumbo jumbo in that? Do u think Jun passed it without talent?

And what purpose would have served if Yo Gwang didn't hide the truth? It honestly would make no difference if Yo Gwang was oh so honest. You make it sound like he had some ulterior motive behind it.

The meaning behind this drama was - keeping fighting the bad, till your last breath, without giving up...but if it comes to your loved ones do not hesitate even once sacrificing yourself for them.

There may be a lot flaws in the show, but the reasoning behind lighting the candles is definitely not one of them. Yes, the manner in which they were lit did seem rushed, but the logic was bang on, with no error at all.

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An observation, a complaint or two, and my interpretation:

The man at the end with the sacrifice potion was indeed the man who saved Yo-gwang. Notice the bracelet he wears. I went back to the beginning of Episode 5 where we see Yo-gwang saved and the man has the same bracelet on...the one that the camera focused on before showing us his face in this episode. While I'm glad we got to learn who saved Yo-gwang, the appearance of the character feels little tacked on (deus ex machina anyone?) and opens up a whole lot more questions than it answers.

I assume he's some kind of traveling monk. Maybe the original author of the book. But why save Yo-gwang and then not intervene until the end again? How does he seem know so much about what's going on?

Another complaint I have: I don't like how "peaceful" Hong-joo's death was, especially in comparison with our main characters. Sure, I could understand her complaints about the political system and the corruption present but I didn't agree with her ruthless tactics to solve the problem. She's a complex enough character that I can sympathize with her at times but that doesn't mean I wasn't still interested in seeing her ripped apart by the curse backfiring. It's bloodthirsty but I wanted to see her attacked by the magic more visually the coughing up blood. Then she gets princess-carried and an affectionate look from the guy she enslaved as he walks them into the fire.

I felt like it undermined the romantic relationship (a little) of our main characters who weren't together when YH sacrificed herself. We don't even get a scene of Jun finding her body.

My interpretation of the end: Jun peacefully passes away by the path and joins YH in the afterlife. Though I was sad we couldn't see them alive and happy together, I thought the ending worked quite well. Bittersweet ending is better than a sad or nonsensical one.

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Ooo, nice point about the bracelet. Glad you took the time to observe and verify, at least now I feel they have planned this all along instead of just giving Ahn Gil Kang a cameo...

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Something must be wrong with me as I did not tear up once through all the Jun-Yeon Hee heartache in this finale but damn you Hyun-seo&Hong-joo for making me teary-eyed in your final scene!

Despite its flaws in the writing department, it was a beautiful drama overall with amazing acting, directing and cinematography and hopefully JTBC will continue to produce sageuks.

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Not a bad drama but kinda overrated. Relationships were generally well done, Hong Joo was a formidable villain, characters were generally well done. The conflicts though...

That black magic dagger is the dumbest source of conflict ever. It was sitting around in Hyun Seo's study that Hong Joo happens to discover, then gains evil powers because of it. She kills the king, gets banished from the kingdom by Hyun Seo, comes back years later to transfer kids to the Queen's womb, gets in on the curse nonsense, stirs crap for about 15 episodes.

Then only way later Hyun Seo goes, you know what son, you should burn that thing with spiritual fire, Hong Joo will no longer be a threat. You know, the spiritual fire I totally had for at least 20 years before I died a bullshit death a while ago.

In the first place, why would he keep black magic artifacts of mass destruction in his room when he could burn everything with spiritual fire?

And double Hyun Seo death fakeouts. It took 3 tries for Hyun Seo to die properly.

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I agree with you. This drama had a lot going for it, but the lack of logic in the areas you mentioned (and others you didn't but I'm sure might have) were so distracting that I spent too much time wondering how things could be the way they were and not enough time enjoying the drama. The believability factor is so important to a drama, and though I allow for the fact that I am not knowledgeable in the area of black magic, the latter episodes had me thinking the writer was trying to pull the wool over my eyes.

As you mentioned, Hyun Soo (the zombie that would not die) was one of them. So the black magic had run out, but he's still walking around? I found myself wondering where he hangs out, how he spends his free time, and even if he was eating.

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Im confused about the curse. In the first ep, the queen was cursed that the twins will die once they turn 17. If they live, whoever loves them & the people they love will die. So heres where im confused:

1. It was said by the narrator in ep1 that the kingdom has been encased in darkness & disease even bef the queen got pregnant. Why is it in the long run they tied it to the twins curse? Their curse is diff to begin with as it involves who they love & loves them in return.

2. I think it was also mentioned they cannot kill Hong-joo or else the curse will not be lifted. Why? Is it bec she transferred the prince's curse to the princess?

3. I understand that Yeon-hee has to break her curse or else Jun will die (based in the curse given by her biological mother). So why is it that Hong-joo is so fixated on preventing the curse to be lifted? Is it again connected to her transferring the curse? Did she offer her life in exchange for the curse to be xferred?

4. What curse did Hong-joo take with her when she died? The love curse? And what was her revenge plan anyway? Use the prince as puppet?

I started watching the series bec the plot was so interesting. Great cast, acting, character development, effects, etc. However i wasnt sold on some things like the reason for Hong-joo's revenge (they did something despicable to her but not as vile & evil as she did with other people like Hae-ran) and the entirety of the curse. I like stories that leaves something in my imagination but what mirror of the witch has are holes that i cant quite fill in.

Or maybe I wasnt just watching it clearly? Lol! If someone can fill me in, thanks much! Thank you also Dramabeans for yor recaps :

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gonna miss this drama for sure!
i've always been a fan of yoon shi yoon and its another great performance from him just makes me love him even more. kim sae ron is really good too. its my first time to watch her drama and im a fan of her now. all the cast did their best to portray their characters and im very thankful that i watch this show.. the ending just makes me cry but i love it!
thank you for the recap! :)

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What a ride, I can’t believe it ended. My thoughts about it:

I adored this drama, but as much as I loved it, I can admit that the plot felt repetitive in the second half.
Every two episodes from like episode 14 story went more or less like this: Hong Joo was exposed, Hong Joo was caught, Seo-ri was framed, Heo Joon tried to help her, Hong Joo was released to catch her or sth, Seo-ri came to her herself, Hong Joo lost again.

It should be 16 episodes long, not 20 episodes to be honest. It would be more condensed and focused on important plotpoints without repeating itself, also did writer forget about 5 candles more to light until the last episode? Like, I legit thought they would havefocused on saving Seo-ri and lighting the candles when king imprisoned Hong Joo. But they didn't and let Hong Joo free again? I was like 'wut'? Missed opportunity to break this formulaic circle drama's got itself in and finally end Hong Joo's story for good.

Anyways, great drama nontheless. Lemme repeat myself once though, I just wish they finished Hong Joo's storyline in ep 16, then focused on lighting the candles and fluff OR condense the whole storyline in 16 episodes and not add more - literally my only complaint after watching finale.

Story was unpredictable (mostly) and thrilling, visuals breathtaking, actors rocked their roles, soundtrack was beautiful (Lim Jung-hee's Sadness is seriously one of my faves OSTs ever, bless the creators for giving it to me), dark and mysterious atmosphere stayed with the drama till the very end.

But I want to pay the biggest respects to two of our main actors, who carried this drama with their unusually strong chemistry, brilliant performances and not over-acted, but tugging on our heartstrings emoting.
Yoon Shi-yoon and Kim Sae-ron surely became one of my fave actors after MotW, so I'm grateful I got to deiscover their talents through this drama. Age gap didn't even bother me once, Heo Joon and Seo-ri were absolutely amazing together or separately and I'm going to remember MotW for giving me one of the most epic and heart-breaking star-crossed lovers romance I've watched in Kdramas so far.

What a ride that was, I don't regret picking MotW up at all and I'll surely watch it again someday. Anticipating next projects of both YSY and KSR.

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I'm in two minds about the mysterious Yo-Gwang saver. It feels like Show is trying to give us some closure on YG's miraculous revival, but it doesn't quite do it because we don't know who he is, and why he likes to drop by only at critical moments.

A part of me is kinda disappointed that the sacrifice potion didn't work like a test of will/faith, y'know, testing if someone loves Yeon Hee enough to give up his life, but still letting him live because love is so great. Maybe I'm too optimistic.

I'm also really sad that Yeon Hee ended up dying alone. I wished she at least took the potion when Jun was asleep, so that he can at least embrace her in her death.

That's not to say I didn't love the show. I'm not huge on fantasy plots, but it mostly delivered very well, and gosh, all those effects were truly gorgeous and the set had a wonderful mysterious aura. I'm also kinda glad it ended when it did, because any more dragging would have turned it from something beautiful to savour, into a long-winded and wishy washy affair.

It's one of the rare full-length dramas where the "adult" characters have a very pure and innocent love throughout. Ordinarily, that would seem set up and cliched, but the actors did a marvellous job. All those episodes where Hong Joo kept pushing YH to the brim made me worry that she would forget how to be happy, so I kinda teared up when she smiled so brightly, like a young girl dizzy in love, when she's with Jun.

The way they're in tune with each other, always knowing what the other is feeling, and anticipating their needs is amazing too. Both of them had rage-filled near-murder incidents, but one always manages to come in and calm the other down in time. YH is also probably the only one who knew and could understand that in spite of ALL of Jun's grieviances towards Heo Ok, he still wanted his brother to live well. Man, I'd be torn between bringing the troops, or making sure that Heo Ok lives in fear the rest of his runaway life.

(Question: I know YH kinda has nowhere else to go esides the temple, but it's kinda weird that all of them kept taking turns to be injured/captured there, and still keep returning blatantly. Isn't it easier for the king and Hong Joo to stake them out there permanently?)

I haven't been a huge fan of Hyun Seo, but his scene with Hong Joo was quite touching. I can't help feeling sorry for Poong Yeon, to lose everyone who treasures, and how would it feel to watch your father sacrifice his life with another (evil) woman?

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If I'm not mistaken, this is writernim's first project. And for a first project, I must say that he did a relatively good job. I hope he could do better in the future. :)

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Who swapped the potions,dude?
So Ahn Gil kang' s cameo was for no use? I mean neither his appearance revealed whether he revived Yo gwang or not,nor his portion was given to the person it supposed to be.
If he was an MOTV watcher and watched the last ep he must probably be thinking," this is the most useless and stupidest cameo I've ever done"

Or it could just be me missing something,probably.

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Why is Ahn Gil-kang always giving out dangerous potions...? http://www.dramabeans.com/2014/10/surplus-princess-series-review/

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I know, right? I should ask him for one when I see him in person.

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Thanks,Mary.And if you are the real db writer song jae rim mary,here are 2 questions I always wanted to ask you?
1. Why does not your comments appear in a yellow box?
2. Doesn't Yo gwang look like(a little) like Woon in moon embracing the sun?( honestly doesn't mean to offend you)

@ Eyes,
You sure have good eyes.Thanks for solving Yo gwang reviver mystery.I posted mine before reading your comment.But sure the writer-nim cannot expect all of us to be Sherlocks like you,they should've detailed the whole thing more.

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And oh,aigoo,Jade emperor,why did you let things end like this in a teary mess instead of giving them a second chance like ya did before?I' m satisfied with the end,sure.But still...

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That cameo totally threw me off. I wonder if that was meant to be longer but fell victim to the editing room coz I was sitting there and was just ?????? What's happening, who's this dude, did he appear before, why does know everything and he also has the book, huh????? Maybe they're thinking about doing a spin off and he'll be part of that? Lol, I have no idea.

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A part of me was disappointed by the ending. I mean poor Yeon hee spent her whole life cursed, in distress and in trouble of one sort and the other and still couldn't get the happy ending she deserved.

And showing Jun pining after her almost forty-one years later is NOT how I expected the show to end. So, so sad.....

I like that Yeon hee switched the portions so that Jun would not die, but I truly didn't expect her to die instead. I was hoping for a plot twist where they both survived. So does the last scene mean that Jun somehow stumbled into a living Yeon hee in the forest, or he found a house in the forest that reminded him of his dead love? I can't quite understand it.

And poor, poor Poong-yeon losing everyone he really loves. I hesitate to say it, but the drama's ending was truly tragic.

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Hello, all :)!

I am of the opinion that Heo Jun is dead at the end and that through death, he is finally reunited with Yeonhee. If we look at the set up before the final scene and some of the symbolism, we can safely interpret it this way. I believe that he died around the time that he sat down in exhaustion. Perhaps he died from a heart attack which we, the viewers, did not witness? His energy is suddenly revived when he sees the kite, and then he passes through a gate. He passes from the world of the living to the world of the dead (or the afterlife).

I do not have much else to add here. I liked the show, even though it had a number of faults (one of which was the length. The story would have been better told with fewer episodes). Kudos to Eyes (comment number 40 above) for noticing that the bracelet worn by the man who revives Yogwang in episode 5 is the same one worn by the man who appears briefly in the final episode. I always wondered who revived the Taoist monk all those episodes ago, but I did not make that connection after watching the finale.

Sorry if what I wrote does not make that much sense :).

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