[Alternate Endings] A sitcom-appropriate ending for High Kick Through The Roof
by Guest Beanie
I never pegged myself as someone who holds grudge. But truth be told, it has been 5 years since the first time I watched High Kick through The Roof, yet I still feel like throwing something whenever I remember its ending. That drama was my second sitcom, the one that I fell for deeply and made me emotionally invested in all the characters’ journeys. Which is why, I think, I was so salty when they ruined it with that infamous ending.
Set just like the usual Korean family sitcom with two big families spanning three generations and sprinkled with enough workplace and school dynamic, I thought it would be hard for it to go off the rails. Boy, was I wrong. Turned out, they only needed exactly one scene to undermine all those lovely messages the drama had steadily delivered for 125 episodes. I mean, I already prepared myself for a lackluster ending in the vein of its slice-of-life feel, but who in their right mind would kill two of the sitcom leads at the last ten minutes? I don’t know what the drama tried to convey with that particular ending. That life sucks and then you die? Because it sure felt like it, especially for Shin Se-kyung’s character.
If there is one thing I could change from that ending to make it right, it would be to erase that car accident and let those characters go to their original destination. That brave confession from Se-kyung to Ji-hoon shouldn’t be the prelude to their unnecessary death. It should be an empowering decision for her because she finally acknowledged that they both knew that she liked him as a man. It should be the moment when she can truly leave Seoul behind to pursue a better life with her family. Her first love might be painful, but it was also one of the many things that has helped her grow and mature. And when time passed, surely it would turn into a precious memory she can treasure.
Their ride together afterward would be mightily awkward, yet Ji-hoon was determined to drive her to meet her family at the harbor. For him, who had always struggled because he felt responsible to give her a better chance at life, watching her exchanging hugs and wide smiles with her sister and father would be a relieving sight. He could see them looking a bit regretful to leave their homeland behind, yet also hopeful to find out what kind of future a foreign land holds for them. That would be enough proof for Ji-hoon that he did the right thing this time. That sending her away was actually an act of kindness. Maybe it’s time for him to admit that he shouldn’t and couldn’t be the one who solved Se-kyung and her family’s problems because ultimately, they are the ones who have to make that choice.
With that burden finally lifted from his shoulder, he then goes to Dae-jeon to sort out their issues together and call her out on her attempt at noble idiocy. With a couple like them, who has been through a lot of things, I imagined we only need a short scene of them meeting in front of her house. She looks half-upset and half-relieved at seeing him, and he just looks at her tenderly.
He could understand her reluctance to face him. But, he argues, that doesn’t mean she has to cut him off completely from her life. Much like how he depended on her when work got tough, or how he always made her wait because of his busy schedule, it’s now his turn to become the emotional support she needs during her family’s financial crisis. He reminds her in his trademark no-nonsense attitude that it’s okay to receive help and that she shouldn’t draw a line between them that harshly. And I like to believe that they’ll weather this together and come out on the other side whole and happy.
I imagine that we end the last episode with an epilogue from some unspecific time in the future. The family is gathered around in the living room, reading a letter from Se-kyung. She tells them that she’s healthy and that they live happily. Even though they miss Korea a lot, they have a better future there for now, and it’ll take a while before they finally go back home. While she continues to narrate about how she finally got her GED and found a better job, we see the whole family in their familiar dynamic.
Mom and Grandma bicker good-naturedly about a cooking recipe in the kitchen. Hae-ri snatches Shin-ae’s letter from Dad’s hand to read it herself. Jung-eum visits the house, exchanging a cute little wave with Ji-hoon, and is greeted by warm hellos from the family. Grandpa scolds Jun-hyuk for still calling Jung-eum “hyung” when she is soon becoming his sister-in-law. And on TV, we see In-na’s girl group performing their new song on a music program, still as popular as ever.
Life goes on. Mundane, familiar, yet also exciting new things happen. It might be a lackluster ending, but at least this time, the drama wouldn’t end just because a certain character wanted time to stop for a moment. Because no matter how poetic it was theoretically, there is just no way I’ll let a sitcom that started with a series of meet-cutes and odd happenstances to let the curtain fall on such a depressing note.
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