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[Alternate Endings] Taking the bitter out of Goblin’s bittersweet ending

By @faraway

Before you pick up your pitchforks, I think The Lonely Shining Goblin is an exceptional drama that absolutely did not suck, and deserves all the awards and recognition. I just think that the ending deserves a little touch-up.

This might be an unpopular opinion regarding Goblin’s finale. At least it is in my group of friends, who all wholeheartedly disagree with me. My friends think that there is no better ending for Goblin, and that the finale was perfect. That I shouldn’t ask for more. But Goblin’s finale, at least for me, was rather bittersweet. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a bittersweet ending, but maybe it’s because I’m a sucker for a happy ending that I still can’t settle for that finale.

I guess I’m more satisfied with how they wrapped up Sunny and Reaper’s story. They both find each other again even in their next lives. They both can live like normal people after reincarnation, without any memories from their past lives haunting them. Though I wondered, how come Sunny’s reincarnation doesn’t have memories from her life as Sunny? Reaper didn’t give her the oblivion tea. Maybe I remember it wrong, or perhaps he did but they didn’t show it onscreen, and maybe I shouldn’t think too much about it. Other than the oblivion tea problem, their ending is enough for me.

It’s a different story for Eun-tak and our Goblin. I still can’t settle with their ending. My friends were all like, “What the hell is wrong with you?! They finally reunited again after so long, what is so sad about thaaaatttt???” Well, yes they both reunited, but at what price exactly? Goblin will have to go through all that again when Eun-tak’s reincarnation in this world is up. All the tears, all the longing, all the rain, and all the waiting. That is a one hell of a tough cycle.

Eun-tak’s reincarnation is still a mortal being, while Goblin remains immortal. They said that humans have four lives to live. What is going happen to Goblin once Eun-tak runs out of lives to live? Goblin will be all alone forever, just as he said in the finale: “My sister, my friend, and my bride have all left. And as always, I am alone.” Noooooo….

When Eun-tak’s reincarnation and Goblin are together, what name will Goblin use to call her? If Eun-tak decided not to drink the oblivion tea every time she died just for the sake of recognizing Goblin in the next life, that means the memories from her previous lives accumulate, right? Wouldn’t she miss all her friends and parents from her past lives? I mean, that’s almost the same as Goblin being left behind.

When Eun-tak’s reincarnation and Goblin are married, what are they going tell Eun-tak’s new family when Goblin will remain the way he is now, while Eun-tak keeps on aging?

This whole thing that makes my head blow up could have been prevented with just one simple thing: reincarnation for Goblin. They both might not have the names, the memories, and the faces from their past lives, but let’s leave all that to this thing called fate. If fate wants them to meet again in the next life, they will meet again.

 
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THANK YOU! I had the same exact issue! Poor Goblin is left to deal with an eternity after Eun-tak's 4 lives are over! I never thought about Goblin being reincarnated but I think I prefer your ending way better.

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There is no guarantee Eun-tak and Goblin’s reincarnations would be simultaneous. If you want them to be together, perhaps this is all you get. One of them has to stay and wait for the randomness of the others return.

I think only we have assumed his punishment is over. For gods, time is a strange beast... moments and forever are rubbery and sometimes interchangeable.

I know my next comment will not be a popular position with many viewers. SO a heads up, you may want to stop reading now.

I noted the prevalence of interpreting the show through goblin. However, for me, that leaves Eun-tak’s life a plaything of Goblin. He intervened in her birth, left her stigmatised from seeing the dead, used her as a tool to free himself and his sister, and leaves her futures with all the issues raised in the post. (...that is not a good story)

I hope DB does a - Re-write the middle. Goblin would be close to my first cab off the rank...

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This is an extremely good point. In a way, Eun-tak is Goblin's plaything or at least a distraction in his immortal life. Even if he doesn't realize it, he steps in to her life again and again without her asking/wanting it.

I also like your point that the reincarnation may not be simultaneous. I think people forget that. You may not come back immediately in this fantasy world.

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I usually dont comment but since I really liked the things you wrote I had too. I totally agree with you, poor Goblin and his bride have so much pain ahead of them. They happy now but like you mentioned its only for a while. Too bad like in Twilight, Goblin cant turn her into a Goblin lol. I thought the same thing why couldn't he just reincarnate too, isnt his punishment over yet?

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Thank youu😊😊 It feels like Goblin will forever be punished

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I agree with your comment: "isn't his punishment over yet"?

And Eun-tak was even reincarnated into a high school student. He'll probably have to wait a year until she's an adult to kiss her. Why couldn't she have been reincarnated into a 20 year old? But then that will leave her fewer years with him. Shin got off easy during Eun-tak's first life. She died before they had to figure out how to deal with aging and watching his wife and children age and die before him.

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AAAH Goblin! I was also left bewildered and mildly disappointed with the rapid chain of events at the end: TOD, walking in the snow, Quebec again. I also wanted Goblin to somehow have a happier ending. I should have foreseen it though. It was all in the title: Lonely Shining Goblin. :(

I have steered clear of reincarnation stories ever since (except Chicago Typewriter, where I think it was done well). Usually they depress me because they tamper with memories of love, and with identity. Tbh, as a Christian it is one of the hardest cultural obstacles for me when watching Kdramas, since I don't believe in reincarnation, but for them it's a pretty important thing.

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but writer was going for heart wrenching.. epic tragic romance :)

you have to have the man/hero suffer in all tragic epic romances pining after the woman for ever and ever and ever..

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I do agree with you that reincarnation is one of the cultural obstacles when watching dramas. I don't know anything about reincarnation, it seems like each drama has its own rule regarding reincarnation. And perhaps that's what makes me confused

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Hi! I agree that there may have been some untouched scenarios from how they leave the show to us but I think it is better as that. I think the ending, though we cried too hard, was very beautiful, and at the last moment, they leave us thinking of possible scenarios that could happen--it's on us. And I'm in awe of that.

What can be a good ending for a drama with a plot of a lonely/left alone creature? Have someone, not to finally die.

It's been resolved. For me, I don't think other problems after meeting in the next life won't matter that much because they chose their lives to love each other, so it can be I guess, some kind of a sacrifice, in order to continue being with someone you love.
Next, since there are about 4 lives, I thought to myself that they will both die on Euntak's fourth. They will be content spending their lives loving each other. (I'm not sure what life they are already in at the ending, it will be about a year since I've watched... i'm not sure if it's also been mentioned)

But I do agree that goblin's reincarnation can also be an option, though I think it will make me question the whole drama more.

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This is exactly what I thought when I watched Goblin. I was more sad than happy when Goblin returned again as an immortal rather than a normal human who aged. Wasn't him being immortal a curse? So is he cursed and has to go through a never ending cycle of love and loss? :(

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Goblin is my favourite KDrama but I totally agree with you, all the thoughts that run through my head at the end were exactly what you said.

Maybe they are leaving room for a part 2, where we can watch Eun Tak become immortal? I dunno, what if they have children, what will happen with the m? Sigh all these questions.

The ending was more bitter than sweet for me & I low-key still have a problem accepting it.

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Maybe they could make it like the american movie called The Age of Adaline. Adaline who was once a mortal being then turned into immortal but at the end she's back to be a mortal being (that pretty much sounds like goblin, but without any supernatural powers)

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Great ending!

I also would have preferred for Goblin to be reincarnated. If Sunny and Reaper can both meet again, then so can Eun-tak and Goblin (with or without memories). Just like you said, "If fate wants them to meet again in the next life, they will meet again."

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Thank you😊😊😊

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Oh i agree with you so much. Reincarnation movies and the like always get me with those details and when i feel for the characters it hurts more. I like your suggestion! I recall feeling hurt and unfairness as a bitty kid watching Hollywood movies like Chances Are and Heaven Can Wait all because those sticking points you’ve mentioned.

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Thank you😊😊 I'm gonna watch those movies you mentioned above!

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I do not comment on K-dramas that much because it is the writer's world that we are peaking into...However, the ending of Goblin put an ache in my heart that even after a year has not gone away. Someone told me that after Ji Eun Tak's four life cycles, she and the Goblin would go to heaven because he came back to her life due to their contract. So, when the 4 life cycles are over, his immortal life ends as well....Still, it does not help

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I guess the writer's point was that Goblin became a sefless character who he was willing to go through the torture of eternity again just for the person he loved. Still, I did not like the fact that Goblin was still immortal when he came back to life again and that Eun-tak was again cursed by death. Though it's a life-for-a-life situation if I understood correctly, I nevertheless wished they would have one hassle-free lifetime like Reaper and Sunny's reincarnations.

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Add me to the list of people who were disappointed with the ending. Also what happened to DeokHwa? Bittersweet is the perfect word to describe the ending.

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THIS! I love Goblin to pieces, but that bittersweet ending left me aching. It wasn't a happy ending, more like delayed suffering for our lonely shining goblin. I kept thinking "but eun tak only have 4 lives! What will happen after she lived all of it?".

In my mind I always imagine it like this, that after the 4 cycles of eun tak's life, somehow the Gods would finally take away the goblin's immortality, And then he would finally die and be at peace.

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or at the begining of Euntak's 4th live, The Butterfly God can remove Shin's immortality and he then can enjoy the live of a mortal with his bride's last life, with all the aging and life normal problems. When their hairs both turn gray and their hands wrinkle, then they will hand in hand enter their stairs to heaven.

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Why does everyone presume Goblin is immortal? He never was to begin with... I never assumed he came back immortal -- I thought now it would be is choice when he's believes it's time to stop paying the penance set upon him, he can go. (Like the American show Lucifer says... all of Hell's doors are open for anyone to leave at anytime.)

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Um, he was definitely immortal. I remember him mentioning attempting to commit suicide but not being able to, and he had talked about wanting to die and move on many times during the series... I do agree that the whole penance idea was the reason why he was able to take out the sword, kill the eunuch, and finally "die". But considering the fact that he had his goblin powers and hadn't aged 18 years after Eun-tak died and reincarnated, I'm pretty sure we're supposed to assume he's still immortal in the finale.

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I actually understand @elsol69 comment about immortality. Goblin came back to the world and after the bets are off - he may be immortal or not; it is quite possible that he can die or leave the world now, he waited for Eun-tak but it is possible that he can leave the world now if he wants to

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Thank you for this. I thought it was such a sad ending! Thinking about all the years he will be alone in between her reincarnations breaks my heart. He ends up as lonely as he ever was. I loved the story but the end made me not want to watch this drama ever again.

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I LOVE BOYS OVER FLOWERS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH

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I didn’t mind the tragic aspect of Eun Tak’s death, but I agree with you that one of the things her death did was make it glaringly obvious that after her next three lifetimes are done Goblin would be in the exact same position he was in at the start, only without the hope of finding his bride. That being said I don’t think I’d be thrilled if Goblin got reincarnated either, because it would feel like the show was trying to solve everyone’s problems the same way (Reaper and Sunny). If only there was some other magical third option

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I guess a third opton would be to have them both die. I'm reminded of two of the souls the reaper reaped- the one with the blind man and the dog. I think the dog died first and waited for his master. Maybe Eun-tak would be like the dog, waiting for a mortal Shin to die. And then they walk up the stairway to heaven.

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I kind of like your option. In fact I expected both of them to become mortal, like a Beren and Luthien story but switched roles: Beren/EunTak & Luthien/Goblin. Then we can cry for both of them dying but they get to end up together forever.

Eeek, now I think of Goblin as Arwen who's left pining long after Aragorn's death... but even she dies. Tolkien was less cruel than KES.

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I’m one of those who likes Goblin’s ending. I admit that I cared way more for the Reaper love story so I left feeling very content but even thinking about it now, I would’ve been pissed if they reincarnated Goblin too.

The only reason I think Wang Yeo and Sunny got their happy ending was because having those tragic memories gave them so much pain. Leaving all that behind and starting all over again was the only way things would work out for them. In every other drama (GFB, Rooftop Prince) we always complain that it’s not the same person without their memories etc. Reaper and Sunny despite not being their original selves found a way back to each other as different people. That was a blessing to them and diety’s forgiveness after all the suffering.

However, Goblin’s case is so different. If he forgot Eun-tak, and she forgot him, then they wouldn’t be them anymore. Their memories of each other is something they cherish and gives them more happiness than pain. It’s a love that isn’t tragic (to them) so forgetting it all seems like punishment from the diety rather than mercy. If I had to reeeeally change that ending, then I’d probably make Eun-tak immortal for all the sacrifices she made and the good person that she is. She can be an angel if that’s something that exist in the world KES created.

What I desperately wanted instead was for Goblin to have introduced himself to Lee Hyuk. They could’ve started all over again and become friends and he could’ve been a brother to Sunny the way he never had the chance to in her 3rd life. I hate that he just walked away when he saw them together. But I also believe he and Eun-tak would eventually meet them. Sunny did that to her when she lost her memory. She’d also do the same. Plus she was soooo close to Reaper too!

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This entry just reminded me of all the anger I felt when I watched the finale... All of my problems with the finale (all of which this article has already mentioned) would have been fixed if they had just changed one thing! I don't remember all of the details exactly, but when Shin came back from the snowy underworld (or whatever it was), why couldn't he have come back as a human? Considering why he was given immortal life + powers in the first place, him coming back as a goblin made no sense whatsoever. However, if he had come back as a human, he and Eun-tak could enjoy the remainder of their lives together as mortal beings and equals!

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I see where you are coming from, but remember his immortality is a punishment and a blessing. I think the bittersweet end is the only that the writer could remain true to the story premise. The blood of countless children's of the gods stains the Goblin battle sword for which he is being punish. But at the same time, for those mortals who in their darkest moments call out to the void, if they are lucky, Goblin is their answer.

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the ending was fair. They both said they'd rather a sad love then no love at all, so it's what they chose. but while we're on the subject of happy endings, why can't we just make Eun-Tak immortal too? like an angel or something? Or yup, let Goblin finally grow old with her and die

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Well thank heavens I am not alone. That ending actually ruined the whole thing for me. I don't get why the most noble of all the characters was the one who has to suffer the most, in every way cmon! It's like he was being punished for the principles he stood for and the good things he did for others! I'm still fuming mad about it so I can't say that drama was the highlight of the year in kdramas for me and it was such a waste. I don't care if some people think otherwise it was a horrible ending. I have a lot of beef with that drama actually including EuanTak's character who stayed a whole lot younger than the matured version. I also have another beef with the "matured" version but let's not get into that. I mean I had a hard time buying into the fact that Goblin wasn't being inappropriate in their intimate moments because she was young for most of the story. Should I blame the actress for having played it too well-overplayed actually.

but yes I agree with all the sentiments here, GOblin's got a bad rap. Too bad

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T_T I was enlightened, but at the same time, was depressed!
I wish you would give a storyline to solve all the questions you come across with...
Like Ji Ho in BTIOFL said about ending of the "Graduate" movie, at the ending of a supposed-to-be happy ending, the couples sitting in bus, not looking entirely happy or expecting of their future together, but feeling nervous and unsure... I guess that's how life is, and how any drama/movie ends. There's no optimal ending for someone's life that a drama/movie can satisfy all viewers. It seems the best ending give you bittersweet feelings of continuation of life, with challenge, with unresolved problems from past, with uncertainty... but surely with hope and love... At least Goblin and Eun-tak can be happy finding each other and enjoy their companion for another lifetime, right?

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I was actually expecting the drama to promote Eun Tak to a heavenly being, like an angel or something, since she sacrificed herself. Talk about imagination haha.

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This was the first Happy ending that made me feel sad.
Why ..... Because it was given in a context of lonliness.
To that end i would have preffered goblin with his entire family.

Goblin euntak sunny reaper his nephew and secretary all together.

Spending time being happy reaper goblin shenanigans. That would have been a truly happy ending !

I hate the writer for traumatizing me with that ending having promised a better finale.
She killed my love for the drama I ll never be able to watch it again!

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As far as i'm concerned, Goblin had only 15 episodes and you cant tell me otherwise.

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Ha! I think my husband agrees with you! When we do rewatches, he refuses to watch 16. I watch the first half and then I’m done. I love Goblin, make no mistake. It was a gorgeous drama, but even I thought the ending could have been more impactful. Some skinship would have been nice at the end—a warm embrace, something that showed the longing after 50-75 years or so of waiting for each other the second time. I want to think that Eun Tak was brought back immortal that second life as well—that God opened that door for her after seeing her self-sacrifice and that she and Kim Shin live out their immortal lives handing our Subway sandwiches to mortals who are hungry of a miracle! 😜

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I think the ending was consistent for the story and the characters. Other viewers mention that it was always to be a sad love story. Human life is in part sad and hopefully happy. To truly appreciate the happiness, we have to acknowledge the sadness otherwise it is tedious monotony like the Goblin’s life before his bride can into it.
The Goblin was punished by the gods because he no longer valued human life and that included his own. I don’t think it was simply that he killed so many in battle. In choosing to return to immortality for the chance, even briefly, to be with his bride, he accepted that life was an emotional struggle to be valued.
I do agree with @Tom’s point about poor Eun Tak being reduced to a vehicule for the Gobin’s character arc. Sigh, unfortunately not unsual for heroines in dramaland to be reduced to handmaidens of the hero.

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Yeah about heroines being reduced to handmaidens. I feel like a lot of romantic kdramas tend to start off with the heroines voice to ease the majority female audience into the story, but then we get introduced to the hero. And as he gets more entrenched in the heroine's life and as he wins over the audience with his angst and charm, the story shifts to the hero's point-of-view and the heroine becomes more of a supporting role.

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But wasn't Goblin's time back on earth due to their contract? When Eun tak lives her final life, won't the contract end, and he'll be able to move on to the afterlife? That's how I choose to think about it.

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That's actually a REALLY good way to look at it! Omg, I'm super happy now! THANK YOU!

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Love this post! I agree 100%. I wanted ET to gain immortality in death. For example, if she came back as an angel, or if the same god who made Goblin immortal made her inmortal, I would have been so happy. As it stands, it’s too sad for me to think about them sufferings in each life until he suffers alone - For-Ever. Jeepers! I vote for Season 2 to correct this.

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THANK YOU! My exact thinking and feeling about the finale. How could they leave Kim Shin to suffer through immortality like that? Completely unnecessary.

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I might be among a very few people who could see there are faults in this series. I can’t believe people went over the moon for this. I couldn't get over the fact that everyone thinks it is okay that a high-schooler falls in love with a middle age man. Given many sexual harassment events happened, why can’t they avoid this young poor girl vs old rich man romance? It is so cliché. Why not make Eun Tak to be 25 or 29 to begin with? Besides beautiful filmography, great music, and extremely talented acting, I found there was lack of chemistry between Kim Shin and Eun Tak. Why did they fall in love? Because she was cute and innocent? Wouldn’t it be weird to have a middle age man who does nothing but brooding all day long falling in love with a highschooler? I couldn't relate to them. I love Gong Yoo and Coffee Prince. His chemistry with Yoon Eun-Hye was very relatable: their gazes, touches, thoughts, and kisses. Gong Yoo’s bromance with Grim Reaper is very relatable because they have similarity: age, experience, etc. Everything between Gong Yoo and Kim Go-Eun is just awkward despite how talented they are in acting. Poor directing and forceful cliché romance. I am disappointed in Gong Yoo in this series as he wasn’t allowed to flourish to his true talent but had to fit in a mold created by the writer. He should go back to the silver screen where he is allowed to create. Drama series like these only cater to the audiences. Waste of talent.

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I'm aware I'm late to posting, but no matter how many times I rewatch Goblin (don't ask, seriously), I can't stop asking the same MANY unanswered questions! 1) Why was the ending so dry? He's waited 30+ years to reunite with her and they don't even hug? WHAT?
2) What happened to Duk Hwa besides the obvious aging? We didn't get to see anything about him growing up.
3) What does this mean for Ji Eun Tak and Kim Shin? He's still very obviously a Goblin, so does that just mean that he's going to live with her three more times and then continue to live? Will he eventually be able to die? Will Ji Eun Tak and Kim Shin be able to live a good, and happy life?
SO. MANY. UNANSWERED. QUESTIONS.
But even so, I can't say enough how much I loved this drama. I can't ever watch this drama without crying. One of my all time favorites for sure! Sarang!

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An easy fix would have been to insert a line from Ajumma Grandma saying the clock is now ticking on Goblin's punishment, that he's just got one human lifespan remaining starting... NOW! A butterfly lands on the Quebec tombstone as a voiceover says they've been granted the privilege of growing old together (though technically Goblin guy already has a eight year head start, if you assume his first death was at 37).

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Well the writer surely managed one thing - I’ll always have lingering feeling whenever I think about this drama.

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Omg I totally agree with you. I actually wanted her to become an angel after she saved those people. If you become a grim reaper by committing a terrible act why couldn’t you become an angel after committing an amazing one. Also, if I remember correctly the grim reapers mention the existence of angels in one of the episodes.

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