Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 20 (Final)
It’s not how a person dies that defines their life, but how they lived. We can all choose to live with anger and resentment, or to rise above and focus on the people we love. Life isn’t about revenge or bitterness — it’s whether you leave the world with more love in it than than when you found it that is a person’s true legacy to those they leave behind.
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
Joon-young carries Eul all the way to the hospital, where he dumps her on a bed and harshly asks the doctors to kill her, since she says she wants to die. He stalks to the hallway angrily to wait while Eul is examined, and he looks through the pictures on her phone. He finds a video that she recorded when he forgot about her and she was left alone at the cabin.
She’d pretended to be filming an interview of herself, and said that she wasn’t worried about Joon-young disappearing. Even if he were to collapse, someone would be there to help him, because the whole country loves him.
Eul says that she’s good at waiting, but her voice shakes as she adds that what she’s most scared of is that one day, she may not have to wait anymore. “I might wake up one day, and Joon-young might no longer be part of this world.” Joon-young’s eyes fill up with tears as he watches Eul cry on the video.
So his mood is softer when he goes back in Eul, brushing her hair aside and telling her that the doctor is too busy to kill her today. Since she’s only got mild gastric inflammation, she’s released.
As they walk back to the cabin, Joon-young gives Eul his scarf and coat, while she stands there numbly. He smiles and kneels to piggyback her, but her face remains blank and she walks past him.
Joon-young watches Eul walking away, then turns to face the ocean and screams, “Let me live! I don’t want to die — let me live!”
Eul turns back to him, and Joon-young continues, asking who will take care of his mother if he dies. He cries out that he’s never been a good son, and only broke his mother’s heart. He’s fighting tears, and he says that he can’t die like this, with so much he still wants to do.
He continues, saying that all the people he loves are here now: “We’re only just about to be happy. Why do I have to die now? I don’t want to die. I want to live. Let me live… I’m scared…”
At that Eul runs to Joon-young, and throws her arms around his neck. She apologizes over and over, unable to do anything else to console him.
The video of Jung-eun’s confession is aired, and the whole country is rocked by the news that two politicians covered up a hit-and-run death. Jung-eun’s face is blurred, but the media is swift to identify the parties involved.
Ji-tae’s mother fumes to hear that the case will be reopened, and watches as Assemblyman Choi arrives at the police station. He faces a flock of reporters, and promises to answer all of their questions truthfully.
Ajusshi checks on Joon-young’s mom as she’s washing dishes, and he tells her that Assemblyman Choi approved the release of the video personally. He admits that Choi had a shred of decency after all, but Mom doesn’t acknowledge him.
Assemblyman Choi tells the police every single detail about his involvement in the cover-up, even admitting that he demoted the prosecutor who refused to participate. He confesses that he did all this in return for Assemblyman Yoon’s promise to support his political advancement.
Jung-eun leaves for the airport, yelling to her father over the phone that he promised he’d take care of this for her. She shrieks that she always did what he told her to do, asking what she did that was so wrong. Really, you still don’t know? The police catch her before she gets in the car, and Jung-eun is arrested.
Jik cries over the phone to Eul, asking if their father can rest in peace now. After their talk, Joon-young asks her why she gave Assemblyman Choi the video. At first Eul lies that she didn’t and he must have stolen it, but Joon-young accuses Eul of never intending to air it.
At Joon-young’s stern glare, Eul admits that she gave Choi the video because she didn’t need it anymore. She says that it was enough for her that they found her father’s killer, but Joon-young argues that the guilty parties might have gotten away with it, and thought that what they did was okay.
Eul reminds Joon-young that Assemblyman Choi did turn in the video and take responsibility. She parrots Joon-young’s words, saying that this is the world she wants to believe in.
They’re interrupted by the delivery of a dog house, which Eul says is so that Pororo can come live with them. Joon-young looks touched when she says that she’ll just take allergy medicine, and they settle down to paint a sign for the doghouse.
Eul paints Joon-young’s nose green, and he returns the favor, and soon they’re chasing each other around the house laughing and being silly. Joon-young narrates that that night, Eul woke him up to tell him how she plans to live without him — not with heavy ideals like justice and convictions, but with simple common sense. She just wants to live in a way that doesn’t embarrass her father, Jik, or Joon-young.
Eul runs upstairs, but she grows concerned when Joon-young doesn’t follow. She goes back down but he’s nowhere to be seen. Is he having another regression? Oh thank goodness, he’s just playing with her, and he grabs her in a back hug.
Eul isn’t amused, and Joon-young turns her to face him. He holds her face and kisses her, slow and gentle.
Joon-young continues narrating that when Eul fell asleep, he received a text from his father. It’s an echo of Joon-young’s words to him, when a disillusioned Joon-young said he’d be ashamed of his father for the rest of his life. This time, Assemblyman Choi had written that he would take pride and joy in the fact that he’s Joon-young’s father, until the day he dies.
Ji-tae’s mother is furious when Assemblyman Choi arrives home and tells her that he won’t be appealing any of his charges. He says that Ji-tae was right, that they’ve become monsters, and he begs his wife to stop.
Offended, she drops to banmal, and snarls that she made him what he is now. She says that he was in the gutter when she found him and transformed him. Ji-tae walks in to hear her ask if her husband wants to go back to where he came from, poor and powerless.
She even accuses Choi of letting his own mother die when she needed a new heart, and he wasn’t able to stop stronger, richer people from cutting ahead on the transplant list. She reminds him that he’d he wanted power so that he’d never have to lose to anyone else again.
Her words are cold and angry as she asks if he wants to go back to those days, saying that he has to pay the price if he wants to keep his powerful position. She turns to Ji-tae as she spits that to protect her husband, she even manufactured Ji-tae’s car accident.
Ji-tae is too shocked to speak, and his mother tells Assemblyman Choi to get out of her house and go back to the gutter. She storms out of the room, and Ji-tae tells Choi that he no longer has to keep his promise to stay with her.
Ji-tae says that he’ll be the one to take care of her the rest of his life, but Choi answers that she’s his wife, and the mother of his children. He promises to stay, even if it’s worse than living in the gutter, and the two men smile tearfully at each other.
Jik finds Haru hovering outside his workplace, and they go for a walk. They point out each other’s pimples, guessing that they’ve been having a hard time. Haru gives Jik a kiss on the forehead, then asks if he hated it.
Jik says that he didn’t hate it — it made his heart pound. Haru says that she knows Jik lied about being gay, and that he did it because of her father. She hands her phone to Jik and asks him to give her his number again, though she promises not to call or see him again.
She says that she wants it for later, so that if she ever finds a man as good as Jik, she can call him. Jik enters his number and says to call him then, and he’ll answer.
Eul speaks to a vendor on the phone in broken English, angry that a blender she ordered has never arrived. She can’t understand what the vendor is saying, but she turns to find Ji-tae behind her, offering to handle the call on her behalf.
Ji-tae asks where Joon-young is, and Eul hesitates. Before she can explain, Joon-young walks right past them with barely a nod to Ji-tae, no recognition in his eyes. Eul explains that in the last week, Joon-young has started forgetting people, even her. Today he doesn’t even remember who he is, and she’s told him that she’s a live-in helper so he wouldn’t be upset.
Ji-tae follows Joon-young out to a nearby pier. Joon-young finally turns and asks if Ji-tae knows him, and when Ji-tae says they know each other well, Joon-young innocently asks what he was like before.
Ji-tae is honest, and tells Joon-young that he was a self-important jerk. He says that Joon-young would say hurtful things, and always thought he was right. Miffed, Joon-young tells Ji-tae to stop, but Ji-tae continues that although he was rude and hurtful, he was always right.
He says that Joon-young did crazy things that made cowards like him feel small and ashamed. Joon-young asks if that’s a compliment, and Ji-tae says that it is, which makes Joon-young laugh.
He asks if they were friends, but Ji-tae says they weren’t, that he hated Joon-young a lot, and that he wished Joon-young would disappear. But he adds with a smile, “Let’s meet again next time. I’ll treat you really well then. Like a real hyung, I’ll cherish you, and love you.”
Joon-young says to forget it, and walks away sneering that Ji-tae is weird. Ha. Ji-tae watches him go with a tearful smile. And from a short distance away, Eul watches them both.
Ajusshi finds Joon-young’s mother in the kitchen washing dishes, and without a word, he slips a ring on her finger. He says he found it and she gives it right back, saying that she’s not a beggar. So he admits that he bought it for her and puts it back on, but this time she throws it onto the floor.
She tells Ajusshi to give it to his girlfriend, and he snaps back that she’s his girlfriend. He finally tells Mom that he likes her, and she calls him crazy and tells him to get out. Ajusshi just puts the ring back on her finger a third time, then gets up to go.
Mom stands and throws a pan of water at his back, and screams that he’s crazy. She sobs that her son is dying, but Ajusshi calmly says for her to wear the ring when she goes to see Joon-young, and show it to him. Mom pounds on his chest, asking how he could do this right now.
Ajusshi tells her that Joon-young asked him to take care of her, so she should go show him the ring and say that she’ll be fine without him. He says that he knows she avoids her son because she feels guilty, but she’s his mother, so she has no reason to feel guilty. He tells her to go see Joon-young before it’s too late, and Mom sinks to the floor crying.
Ji-tae visits Jung-eun in jail, and she tells him that she’ll be released soon, still completely unrepentant. She even threatens to get revenge, saying that her father intends to crush his whole family. She’ll have Assemblyman Choi destroyed so badly he can never recover.
She asks why Ji-tae isn’t lecturing her like usual, but he just says, “If I say there was ever a time I’d felt something for you, will you believe me?” He’d even entertained the thought that having her for a girlfriend might have made life fun and happy.
As he explains, Jung-eun remembers their first meeting, when Ji-tae had been looking for an essay tutor and was shocked to have her show up. She had assured him that she didn’t pull strings to get this position, but interviewed properly with his mother and earned this spot.
She’d talked about how smart and talented she is, saying that she was trying to impress him. She’d said that she’d liked him for eight years, and he’d been adorably flustered.
But now Ji-tae looks at Jung-eun with an impassive face, and says that he’d rather she stay in jail and do her time. If she does, he promises to wait: “If you can be recovered, if there is so much as a speck of dust’s worth of hope, I’ll be at your side.”
Jung-eun cries, but when Ji-tae promises to visit her again she yells at him to never come back.
Joon-young’s mom goes to see him at the cabin, but he doesn’t recognize her, and her presence seems to make him nervous. She manages to hold back her tears and says that she’s here to see Eul, so Joon-young invites her in.
Hearing that Eul messed up an attempt to cook spicy beef soup, Mom cooks for Joon-young while he watches from a wary distance. Then she invites him to taste it, and he accepts happily. Eul comes home and sees them, then goes to the upstairs balcony to give them privacy.
Joon-young tastes the soup and pronounces it delicious, while his mother doesn’t take her eyes off his face. He says carelessly that it tastes just like his mother’s soup, then he freezes. Mom thinks the soup is bad and reaches to take the bowl, but Joon-young clutches her hand tightly. He looks up with tears in his eyes, and apologizes for not recognizing her.
Joon-young washes his face then rejoins his mother, back to himself again. He tells her that she looks pretty with his old cheeky grin, and she admits that her earrings and outfit are gifts from Gook-young and Man-ok. She shows him the ring from Ajusshi, telling Joon-young that he proposed, and Joon-young happily congratulates her.
Mom says that now she’ll have two sweet stepchildren in Gook-young and Man-ok, and Joon-young says ruefully that he was a bad son. Mom says that he was a good son when he was little, that he always slept and ate well, and never got sick or cried. She adds that every time he looked at her, he smiled.
Joon-young goes with it, allowing her to think he was a great son. Then he grows serious and says that he doesn’t want her to think that he didn’t do the best he could. He says that he always lived hard, and that if he had it to do over again, he couldn’t do better. But he still feels sorry towards her.
As Joon-young apologizes, tears stream down his face. Mom tells him to visit her whenever he misses her, and that when the flowers bloom and the wind blows, she’ll think that he’s there. Even when it rains or snows, she’ll think that he came by.
She softly thanks Joon-young for being her son, and Joon-young says through his tears that it was a great honor to have her as his mother.
Ji-tae holds a press conference, revealing that the tax audit revealed that KJ Group has many issues to repair. He announces that both his and his mother’s resignations, then he looks over to see Assemblyman Choi watching him, smiling proudly.
Assemblyman Choi leaves, and his assistant runs over to tell him that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. But Choi looks unconcerned, and just asks his assistant to find him a good beef soup restaurant nearby.
That night Joon-young catches Eul taking selcas to send to Jik, and he sits to join her. They don’t have any pictures of them together, so Joon-young takes several, teasing that his good looks are wasted on her, hee.
Later they sit on the patio, and Eul notices that Joon-young seems tired. She offers to let him rest on her shoulder, and he complains that she’ll just wake him up to play. Eul promises that she won’t, and Joon-young lays his head on her shoulder and closes his eyes.
Eul immediately asks if he’s asleep, and he says yes. She asks again a second later, and he says not yet. Eul asks if she’s really not pretty, and Joon-young answers sleepily that she’s so pretty he can hardly look at her.
A short while later, Eul asks again if Joon-young is sleeping, and this time there’s no answer. Oh no. Eul seems to stiffen, heart in her throat as she asks if he’s really sleeping.
Then she says she won’t force him to answer, or wake him to play with her. She says that he’s had a really long day, so he can forget about his mother, his father, and even her. “Don’t think about anything, just sleep. Thank you, Joon-young-ah. See you tomorrow.”
Eul looks up, tears in her eyes, and a shooting star streaks across the sky.
It’s some time later, and spring is in full bloom. Gook-young and Man-ok (who have thankfully gotten better haircuts) are cleaning out Joon-young’s house, and Gook-young stops to marvel at the new leaves on a tree that Joon-young thought was dead.
He sneaks off to take a call from Na-ri, who calls him Oppa and asks if they can go to dinner tonight after they see a movie. Aww, there really is a lid for every pot.
President Namgoong calls them inside to watch a video that he found of Joon-young. It’s the video he made after he found out about his illness, and learned that he didn’t have long to live. He says that he was shocked at first, but then he realized that everyone dies.
Joon-young “What worries me the most is that the people I love might think I was unhappy. I was truly happy. I lived a warm life and couldn’t have asked for more. It could even be that knowing that my time is limited helped reveal my true feelings, and gave me courage. It may even be my final blessing.
“Yesterday marked the end of the three months the doctor gave me. When you find this and watch the video, am I still alive? And my love Eul, how is she living now?”
Eul harasses her work sunbae about some videos regarding doctors taking bribes that she’s been working on for months. He agrees that they shouldn’t cover it up, but then he hands her a fat wad of cash and asks her to turn a blind eye just this once.
Eul does allow that she had a lot of expenses, and gasps when he shows her the key to his new car. Then she points out the camera in the ceiling and tells him to wave, ha. Thanks to him, she can add “bribing the media” to the offenders’ list of charges.
She heads to the bus stop, where there’s a poster of Joon-young with flowers and a giant smile that says, “You have done well today.” Eul smiles back at the poster, and says, “Right? I did really well today, didn’t I?”
She gives Joon-young’s picture a sweet little kiss, and stands back to smile. “See you tomorrow, Joon-young-ah.”
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed Uncontrollably Fond despite the criticism it’s attracted. In my opinion it was an interesting story with real, flawed characters, and it made me feel a lot of things. Yes, many of those feelings were frustration, annoyance, and sometimes even anger, but any of those is better than a show that makes you feel nothing. I was especially impressed by the acting, in particular Kim Woo-bin’s portrayal of Joon-young. He showed more nuance and subtlety than in any his previous roles, and I’ve seen literally every drama he’s done since White Christmas. Im Joo-hwan and Im Joo-eun turned in their usual stellar performances, and I even thought Suzy was better here than I’ve ever seen her.
I was really happy with the way Joon-young’s death was handled, with such simple beauty and dignity. I’ve known from early on that there was really only one way this show could end, but I was dreading a big dramatic death scene with lot of tears and wailing. So I loved that his passing was gentle and easy, just falling asleep next to the girl he’s always loved. It reinforces that Joon-young was more than just how he died — he was the sum of his life, and the way he left this world was only a small part of that. Regardless of whether the choices he made were right or wrong, whether he was sometimes a jerk and made people hate him, he always tried to do what was right. And he always loved fully and without reservation, even when the ones he loved weren’t ready to love him back. He never let that stop him, and always loved with his whole heart wide open.
I thought that Assemblyman Choi was possibly one of the best antagonists I’ve seen in a drama, because he was much closer to what corrupt people look like in real life. They aren’t mustache-twirling cape-swirling villains whose every action is designed to bring down the pure-as-snow hero. True villains can be good fathers, loyal husbands, and they can even convince themselves that their evil actions are for the greater good. It’s what makes truly evil people so frightening — they’re often convinced that they’re doing what’s right. Assemblyman Choi had a lot of good qualities, and I have all the admiration for Yoo Oh-sung, who showed both sides of Choi’s personality with great skill. And at the end of the day, knowing what a deeply good man his son was, and what he missed out on by refusing to be in his life, was enough for him to make the decision to be a better person. I’m happy that he got a chance to tell Joon-young that he would be proud to remember him as his son.
For that matter, I think that’s one of the things that this drama did very right — it never painted any of its characters into any tropes, never pigeonholed them into “good” or “bad” roles. Jik and Ji-tae’s mother were the only characters who only embodied one side of the coin — everyone else could have gone either way at any given time. At times, I hated both Joon-young and Eul for their actions, and I sometimes even liked Assemblyman Choi and Jung-eun and felt they had the potential to be good people, if only they chose to.
I have particularly enjoyed watching Eul’s journey, because while I didn’t understand her decisions a lot of the time, what’s important is that she never lived her life for anyone but herself. She always stood up for her convictions, and when she loved someone she was loyal to a fault. I loved how her relationship with Joon-young taught her that things like justice and conscience are good ideas, but that what gets us through the day is simple common sense. Just do the best you can at any given moment, and the rest will take care of itself.
Though Uncontrollably Fond had a lot of issues throughout its run, I was always caught up in the story, and was deeply invested in Joon-young and Eul’s romance. They were the very definition of star-crossed lovers, who fell in love early in their lives but just couldn’t ever connect. It took a terminal illness to make them let go of the past and just love each other without any burdens or lingering resentments, but though their time together was short, Joon-young was able to end his life exactly where he wanted to be — with the woman he loves, who loves him in return. In the end, it’s all any of us could possibly hope for.
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 19
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 18
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 17
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 16
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 15
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 14
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 13
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 12
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 11
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 10
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 9
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 8
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 7
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 6
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 5
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 4
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 3
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 2
- Uncontrollably Fond: Episode 1