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Because This Life Is Our First: Episode 16 (Final)

The end is finally here. It’s been a wonderful ride as we navigated life through the eyes of our three couples, learning what it means to love oneself as well as others. At times, the relationships portrayed have caused gnashing of teeth in addition to joyous uproar, and as much as this show has been a romantic comedy, it’s also crossed genre boundaries and been so much more. Now it’s time to say farewell to these lovable characters and hope for the best for each one of them.

 
Episode 16: “Because this life is our first”

Ji-ho watches drunk Se-hee sleep and traces his profile in the air before getting a call from Mom. She rushes to the hospital, and soon, the family welcomes their newest member. Dad wipes away a few tears, and behind them, Ji-seok audibly sobs on the floor.

Mom and Ji-ho coo over the newborn baby, agreeing that this is the greatest gift in life, and Ji-ho suddenly drops the truth to Mom: She’s getting divorced.

Ji-ho asks why Mom isn’t saying anything, but Mom says there isn’t anything to say since Ji-ho never changes her mind once she’s decided something. And besides, she already knows that the decision must have been difficult for Ji-ho, as will be the consequences afterwards.

Ji-ho asks why Mom never divorced Dad back when she was younger, recalling a time when Mom took her and Ji-seok to her parents’ house. Mom smiles, surprised that she still remembers such an old memory, and tells her that both sets of parents disapproved of their marriage.

Though they married for love, it didn’t seem to be enough to weather the hardships they faced later on, since they considered separating. But the day Mom decided to get a divorce, she looked at Dad sleeping and realized that if she broke up with him when they were dating, she would have missed him all her life. Once she realized that, she decided it is was best to just live with him.

Mom advises Ji-ho to take care of her “star pocket,” and Ji-ho gives her a quizzical look. Mom explains that everyone experiences moments that sparkle, and when that happens, it’s important to capture them and save them in your star pocket to help you through the tough times.

Using Mom’s metaphor, Ji-ho says that she’s getting divorced so she won’t lose her star. She says she wants to fill her star pocket with sparkly things, and smiles up at her mother. Mom just replies, “Bullshit.” Pwahaha! She yells at Ji-ho to keep her divorce a secret from her dad for now, and curses her under her breath as she walks away.

As Ji-ho leaves the hospital, she narrates, “It hurt. Mom’s beautiful words, that families are gifts, felt like they were scolding me. Marriage is something that sparkles. Marriage is something that makes you take another look back even if you hate the other. We took marriage too lightly. For the first time, I felt ashamed.”

Ji-ho packs her belongings, and Se-hee arrives. We revisit their goodbye scene at the door, where she suggests a parting handshake. They wish each other the best of luck since this is both their first divorce, and Ji-ho thinks that since their relationship started with a handshake, it was only right to end it with one, too.

However, looking out of the bus window, Ji-ho smiles and thinks, “The first half of our relationship was marriage, but I want our second half to be love.”

Sang-gu runs into Park while out on business, and comments on Park’s bandaged nose, which Park blames on a drunken stumble. In the elevator, Sang-gu notices Su-ji’s missing presence from the group, and Park tells him that she resigned (yes!), calling her and all women irresponsible.

Before separating, Sang-gu invites Park to smoke together, but when Park offers him a cigarette, Sang-gu explains that he quit. Park says that it might hurt his career, but Sang-gu bluntly tells him that he doesn’t want to partake in their ridiculous conversations, pointing out that even middle schoolers don’t spout such trash these days.

A familiar-looking motorcycle rides up to them, and Sang-gu introduces his new girlfriend. The motorcyclist takes off her helmet and flips her hair in slow motion, revealing Su-ji. She greets Park by his first name, and Sang-gu puts on the spare pink helmet as he takes his seat behind her. They make some jabs at Park and wave goodbye, leaving him completely stunned.

Sang-gu accompanies Su-ji while she buys bras for research, and as he bids her farewell at her apartment, she invites him in for ramyun. He laughs that he won’t get fooled that easily, but when she tells him it’s an honest invitation, he eagerly accepts.

Won-seok empties his rooftop apartment, deciding to go back to his parents’ house, and says goodbye to the pink couch one last time. Meanwhile, Se-hee puts his own place up for sale and receives potential buyers. Once they leave, Se-hee looks around and imagines Ji-ho eating here, watching soccer, and doing her usual things.

He peeks into her empty room, remembering her sleeping there, and notices a letter on the bed, which the prospective buyer had found dropped on the floor. In it, she asks if he watched soccer and if Cat is well, wondering how long it would take for him to find this. She admits to entering his room once and finding the poetry book, and to knowing about Jung-min, and apologizes to Se-hee.

Ji-ho adds an interesting story about Mongolians, who carry their dead to a remote place rather than bury or cremate them. Later, when they return to the place to check the bodies, they mourn if the body is still there but rejoice if only bones remain. She wonders what will be left in her heart on her way back after she leaves this room.

Not wanting to eat at home alone, Se-hee invites Won-seok to a meal since he’s the only one available. Having heard about Se-hee selling his place, Won-seok asks where he plans to move, and looking deflated, Se-hee says that anywhere is fine as long as it isn’t that house.

Se-hee grabs a piece of meat, and though Won-seok warns him that it needs to be cooked more, he pops it into his mouth, saying it doesn’t really matter. Won-seok asks where Ji-ho went, and Se-hee guesses Mongolia.

In reality, Ji-ho is reading comics with Ho-rang at the sauna, living at a guesthouse (housing mostly foreigners) in Seoul. Ho-rang offers her the rooftop room for Ji-ho to use since Won-seok moved out and their lease is still valid, and Ji-ho happily accepts.

Su-ji makes a pot of ramyun for Sang-gu, but as he grabs some, he struggles to eat the clump of still-hard noodles. He takes a bite, clearly shocked at how she could ruin ramyun, but pretends it’s delicious as he continues to eat the undercooked noodles.

Su-ji asks about Se-hee since she heard that he sold his house, and Sang-gu tells her that he hasn’t seen him in a while. Apparently Se-hee plans to use all of his vacation days at once, and Sang-gu complains about how much the company is suffering as a result.

Se-hee mopes on the couch while watching soccer, and dryly comments on his team scoring again. Staring at Cat, whom he calls “Woori,” Se-hee notices the nametag collar, and asks if Ji-ho put it on her before she left. He asks Woori if she understands Ji-ho’s feelings, and then proceeds to drink beer through a straw. Heh.

Meanwhile, Ji-ho also watches the soccer game at the guesthouse, and one of the guests asks why Ji-ho so much soccer, wondering if it wouldn’t get boring. With her limited English, Ji-ho tries to convey her feelings, but ultimately decides to explain it in Korean: “Just watching soccer is not important. It’s whom you watch it with that matters.”

When asked what she’s doing tomorrow, Ji-ho happily says that she’s baking a cake for her ex-husband. Ji-ho attends a baking class the next day and smiles proudly when the instructor compliments her work—but then glares when she calls Ji-ho’s chocolate cat an excellent raccoon. Heh.

Se-hee stops by the office to get the keys to Won-seok’s apartment, and finds the whole office hovered over two laptops as Won-seok races against another employee in a game. He loses badly, to his (and Bo-mi’s) chagrin.

Afterward, Won-seok and Sang-gu worry that that the rooftop apartment would be too small. Se-hee says that he just needs a place to sleep and eat, and his sudden change in philosophy makes Sang-gu nervous.

Ji-ho arrives at the rooftop apartment, and assumes the boxes and bedding are Won-seok’s leftovers. When she plops down on the bed, she’s surprised by how much it feels like her old one.

Ho-rang meets with Young-hyo at a café, and he suggests taking a vacation in March since it would be the best time to go to Bali. He calls it the perfect place for a honeymoon, to Ho-rang’s utter shock, and asks if she would go to Bali with him next year.

Bo-mi finds Won-seok and asks him to play the recording of his game earlier. She analyzes his strategy, explaining why he lost, and Won-seok praises her analysis. She tells him that games, formulas, and game formulas are her favorite things (much like Won-seok), and asks him if he wants to date.

Se-hee brings Woori to their new place, while at his old place, Ji-ho gapes at the stranger who answers the door. He informs her that he’s the new owner, and Ji-ho can’t believe Se-hee sold his home.

She tries calling him, but to no avail since he left his phone behind while buying more beer, and they both walk to the same place a small distance apart. When Ji-ho arrives, she sits outside with her cake, sighing over her missed chance to propose to him about starting again.

Ji-ho remembers the moments she shared with Se-hee, both the good and the bad, and thinks to herself that she wanted to leave that room and see what was left in her heart. Looking back, she realizes that neither hatred nor pain was left—instead, there was just longing. Staring up at the night sky, Ji-ho sighs, “My star pocket is full.”

Su-ji calls Ji-ho, wondering if she moved in and saw him yet. With dawning realization, Ji-ho slowly turns around and enters the apartment, where she finds Se-hee sleeping (with the snail doll) on the bed. She lies down next to him, and Se-hee drowsily opens his eyes.

He thinks that he’s dreaming since he misses her so much, and bitterly asks her how she found Mongolia. “Did you have fun, after leaving me behind?” he asks. She tells him that it wasn’t fun because she missed him every day, but Se-hee laughs, not believing her.

Ji-ho touches his face with her hand and says, “I love you.” Se-hee’s startled to hear it so she repeats the words, but this time he starts to cry. He calls her bad for saying that when she isn’t going to stay with him, when she’ll just be gone when he wakes. She tells him, “I’m sorry. I won’t go anywhere anymore.”

He closes his eyes and wonders, “What kind of dream is so sad? Still, I’m glad that I can see you like this. I’m glad, even if it is a dream.” Ji-ho apologizes and draws closer to Se-hee as he sleeps.

In the morning, Se-hee wakes to a cleaned room and a thermos filled with tea, and jokingly asks Woori if she made it. Cracking another beer, he steps outside, and as he takes a swig, he stares wide-eyed at Ji-ho standing in front of him.

She chides him for drinking first thing in the morning and invites him to eat breakfast instead, while he stares at her like he’s seen a ghost. Inside, she merrily eats crab, and Se-hee asks how she can eat in this situation. He points out that they’re divorced, and doesn’t understand how she suddenly showed up after disappearing.

She wonders if this means he wants her to leave, but before Ji-ho can exit the room, Se-hee grabs her arm and tells her in informal speech that he doesn’t mean that. He just wants to know where she’s been, but when she tells him that she was still in Seoul, he turns his back to her and grabs his head in frustration.

She asks if he’s mad, and though Se-hee denies it, Ji-ho clocks his expression and calls him out on his lie. Eventually Se-hee blows up, yelling at Ji-ho for not contacting him even once when she was so close, saying that he missed her and had a hard time.

Ji-ho smiles at his outburst, which only upsets him more, but she thanks him for opening his Room 19, informing him that this is the first time he’s ever told her what he feels.

Ji-ho apologizes for leaving him when he was having a hard time, and opens up her arms, offering him a hug. Se-hee rejects her offer, sulking on the bed, and Ji-ho continues to playfully pester him while he childishly pushes her away. Heh.

He pushes her onto the bed, and reminds her that he told her to stop. He asks if she needs more breakfast, and when she says that she’s done, he closes the gap between them and kisses her.

Won-seok looks at the data Bo-mi gave him about their match rate, which is over 90 percent, and meets her to give her his decision. Using an analogy, he calls Bo-mi a Mac OS, and though he finds her new, interesting, and intuitive, he still misses Windows. While he understands rationally that the Mac OS is ideal for him, his heart can’t let go of Windows.

Bo-mi graciously accepts his refusal, even calling it romantic, and gives Won-seok some advice about updating before it’s too late. She hints at Young-hyo’s planned proposal today, and Won-seok asks if she knew about this already. Bo-mi simply smirks before walking away.

Ji-ho and Se-hee cuddle in bed together, and she tries to wake him for dinner though he protests for more sleep. Se-hee offers to make omurice for her, but Ji-ho bluntly tells him to just order chicken. Hahaha.

They eat dinner outside, and Se-hee mentions that Ji-ho didn’t sign the writing contract, having heard the news from Jung-min. He thinks she gave it up because of him, but she asks why everyone thinks she’s giving up something for someone. She explains that chances are rare for people like her, so she can’t give them up easily—including love.

Ji-ho realized that what was important to her, and decided that she couldn’t give up love. Therefore, instead of giving up anything, she frames her actions as choosing something, which was love.

Since falling in love is difficult to do even once, she doesn’t want to get married if it will hurt their love, and asks Se-hee for his opinion. He says that he never wants to be apart again, and wants to be her legal guardian so he can rush to her side first when she needs him. However, he agrees that he doesn’t want marriage to change their feelings, and proposes that they search for a solution together.

They cheer to that, but then Ji-ho asks sharply if he met with Jung-min alone. Se-hee gulps and says nervously that Jung-min called first, and Ji-ho complains jealously about Jung-min’s overstepping. Se-hee offers to change his number, but Ji-ho tells him to forget it while shooting daggers at him.

Ho-rang calls Ji-ho to tell her that she needs to throw away the pink sofa because it’s moldy and old, and will drop by after reporting it (as waste material) to the district office. After hanging up, Ji-ho gets a message from Jung-min, who congratulates her about her lawsuit.

She also tells Ji-ho that a different production company will contact her since she promoted her work purely as a fan. Ji-ho stretches happily, and looks at her phone where Se-hee is saved as “my man” with a heart.

Se-hee arrives at work, much to everyone’s surprise, but then he shocks them further when he answers a call from “mine” and replies to Ji-ho in an endearing manner. He ends the call with a kiss, and everyone reels back in horror.

Ho-rang meets with Young-hyo, who goes over his meticulous multi-year plan for marriage, but Ho-rang apologizes since she can’t accept his proposal. He asks if she can tell him the reason, and she takes out the ring Won-seok gave her.

Though she tried hard to let Young-hyo into her heart, she realized that feelings can’t be forced—they can only come to you. Without any resentment, Young-hyo accepts her decision and agrees with her statement, and the two high-five, signaling their end.

Won-seok hesitates over calling Ho-rang, and asks Se-hee if Ho-rang ever comes by the apartment. Se-hee tells Won-seok that she’s actually coming today after visiting the district office, and Won-seok jumps to the conclusion that she’s registering her marriage.

Se-hee doesn’t deny it, and instead feeds the flames of Won-seok’s misunderstanding. Won-seok rushes out of the office to stop Ho-rang, and Se-hee gives himself a congratulatory fist pump.

Won-seok spots Ho-rang getting into a car, and chases after futilely. Ho-rang arrives at the district office, and bids one last farewell to Young-hyo as they both wish the other luck in marrying someone they love.

As Ho-rang fills out the paperwork, Won-seok runs up and says that he can’t give up. She assumes that he wants to keep the couch, and reminds him that it’s old and scratched. Won-seok argues that they should cherish it all the more and asks for one more chance. So she tells him to take it, and Won-seok finally looks at the form, belatedly realizing that it’s a disposal report.

Relocating to a coffee shop, Ho-rang assures Won-seok that she could never accept a different ring, and tells him that the one he gave her is enough for this life. Ho-rang proposes first this time, asking Won-seok to marry her.

They cry together, realizing how much they missed each other, and he wonders where they’ll live now that they left the apartment. She tells him not to worry since they’ll live with his parents, and, borrowing from Young-hyo, Ho-rang shows Won-seok their five-year plan.

Ji-ho narrates that Gary Becker once said that people get married when it provides more benefits than living alone.

Talking over the phone in English, Su-ji’s business seems to be doing well, as does her relationship with Sang-gu. He picks her up and surprises her by saying he booked the same flight to accompany her on her business trip. But it turns out that she’s in business class and he’s not, and he laughs that he can’t keep up with the CEO of such a booming company.

As they get out of the car, Su-ji suggests sharing mileage points so Sang-gu can upgrade his seats, but he points out that those can only be shared with family members. Su-ji simply says that they should get married then, but Sang-gu harrumphs over her seemingly trivial reason.

She huffily tells him that she saved for years for those points, and takes back her proposal, grumbling that she even brought their son today. Sang-gu looks at the backseat to see a new doll buckled in next to their old one. With a smile plastered on his face, Sang-gu chases after Su-ji and happily announces his intentions to stick with her forever.

Ji-ho continues her narration, and says that Goethe, on the other hand, once said that there’s no such thing that’s fundamentally based on happiness, except marriage. He also said that marriage is the beginning of a relationship.

Some time later, as Ji-ho writes her script, Se-hee feeds her a red ginseng packet—the exact same PPL Ji-ho wrote into scripts when she was an assistant writer. Well played, Show. Taking a break, Ji-ho sits in a massage chair, and Se-hee asks if she wants a beer while tousling her hair.

Through her narration, Ji-ho explains that they registered their marriage three years ago, and rewrote their contract. They agree to both pay half the lease and jointly own the apartment. They also agree to visit their families separately on holidays since their feelings come first and trump any cultural norms. While they revise their contract every year, the most important condition never changes: Love is their top priority.

Ji-ho admits that their arrangement is atypical, and that during their first holiday apart, Se-hee’s mother cried and Ji-ho’s dad flipped the table. But nothing worse happened, and people just assume they’re a crazy couple. And that’s allowed Ji-ho and Se-hee to focus more on their own lives.

In her final narration, Ji-ho says, “Whether you get married or not, whether you register your marriage or not, whichever you choose, nothing goes that wrong.” Se-hee lays his head on Ji-ho’s lap, but gets up to switch the channel to watch her drama. Turning to her, Se-hee says, “I love you.”

Ji-ho continues, “What matters is spending time with the person next to you, right at this moment, no matter what.” Turning to Se-hee, Ji-ho tells him back, “I love you, too.” She grabs him, and pulls him into a kiss as the title card for this drama plays on the television screen.

Out in the street, our three couples chase after the bus, and sit all together in the back row. Bidding the viewers farewell, Ji-ho says, “To those living this moment, with all of my sincerity, I wish you the best of luck. Because this is everyone’s first life.”

 
COMMENTS

It’s a neat bow for a beautiful show that wraps up the main relationships in a way that gives closure as well as room for the future indicating that “happily ever after” isn’t a definite ending but a work in progress. From beginning to end, this show has proven to me that tropes can be subverted, a script can be tight, character development can be logical, and women have a place in dramaland besides being a Candy or generic love interest.

Who would have guessed from the premise that this show would be so contemplative and realistic, that the relationships would be so heart-achingly relatable, or that a romantic comedy would be so unafraid to address real life issues concerning family, work, friendship, and love? Though the show wasn’t perfect, and the PPL almost became too meta to be funny, I sincerely thank the creators of this show for bringing something magical to my screen.

The entire cast was absolutely fabulous, from the leads to the tertiary characters (including Cat/Woori), and I cannot praise Jung So-min and Lee Min-ki enough on their stellar performance. It was amazing to see bits of Se-hee that felt so out of character yet still perfectly in character, like the stoic way he acted “cute” to Ji-ho over the phone, and it’s really thanks to Lee Min-ki that Se-hee always felt consistent throughout the show. The subtle changes in expression and mannerism really brought the character to life, and I truly cannot imagine anyone else in the role.

I’m glad Ho-rang and Won-seok found each other after realizing what they wanted most in life was each other, flaws and all. It’s touching how the pink sofa continued to act as a metaphor for their relationship—it symbolized their misunderstandings, but was also the place where they came to talk and discuss their future. The elements weathered the couch just as they weathered each other and their relationship, and in the end, Won-seok’s misunderstanding about the sofa perfectly captures how they should move forward as a couple. They need to cherish each other and their battered relationship, and rather than assume that the scratches can’t be fixed, they need to treasure their relationship even more and treat it gently. By having them interact with almost their “ideal” type of partner, both Ho-rang and Won-seok realized that their ideas of perfect weren’t the things that would make them happy. The show didn’t try to patch up their relationship without dealing with the problems that fundamentally drove them apart in the first place, and it’s amazing to see such development from them because as Mom told Ji-ho, relationships are ultimately the same. Nothing is perfect, but it’s those happy moments that propel us forward to make it through the tough times.

Su-ji and Sang-gu mostly dealt with their issues before the ending, which allowed room for the other two, but that doesn’t mean this couple was any less lovely. It was a great choice for the show to have Su-ji propose (and for such a “trivial” reason, reflecting Ji-ho and Se-hee’s relationship but from the opposite development point) and emphasize Sang-gu’s patient and steadfast nature. They balance each other nicely and they’re an adorable couple, and I couldn’t be happier to hear that both their companies are successful!

Lastly, Ji-ho and Se-hee continue to bring me joy, and I was surprised by how invested I had become in their relationship on an emotional level. When Se-hee confessed his feelings to Ji-ho, thinking that everything was a dream, I unexpectedly teared up because I felt his emotions. I understood how scared and confused he must have felt to verbalize those feelings, and seeing them together again made me indescribably happy. Their ending was satisfying, and I’m glad that they found a solution that works for them. They may be unconventional, but that’s their charm. They don’t march to the beat of society’s drum, and instead, have found that love is the force that binds and guides them. Whether that means angering their family or causing others to point their finger, Ji-ho and Se-hee don’t care because they’ve experienced a once-in-a-lifetime chance at love and won’t change it for anything in the world. Though the future isn’t set in stone, we can only wish them luck as they continue living their life for the first time, just like the rest of us.

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Imagine there is a cake.
A 16 tiered cake.
It’s beautiful. And delicious.

The cake itself is great, your favourite flavours, and they complement each other very well, whilst being a bit new, and exciting, and exploring new combinations.
It has the perfect texture and moisture consistency.
It’s easy to eat and you don’t really want to stop eating it.

And the bottom 14 tiers have this gorgeous filling, thick and rich. Exquisite icing and decoration, gorgeous swirling patterns that you love to look at.
And the 11th tier is the most beautiful, like every other tier below it is leading up to it in its brilliance.

But then there are the top two tiers.
The 15th and 16th tiers.
And when you cut into it you find that the cake is the same but there’s a different kind of filling, and there’s not as much of it, and it tastes a bit weird. Not bad exactly… just out of odds with the rest of the cake.
And then you look at the outside, and you find the decorations are a little lopsided, and the images in the icing make no sense, and you think to yourself ‘WTF. Why is the top of the cake like this?’
And the more you look at it, the more confused you get.
And maybe some people hate the top of the cake, and can’t stomach at it, and some people find the change in flavour actually not THAT bad, but you’re still scratching your head about it, bewildered and yes, disappointed.

And then you remember that the rest of the cake tastes and looks amazing. And you’re glad you have that at least.

But still those confusing icing decorations will haunt you, perhaps for a long while, just as you remember the taste of the middle layers, and that “Sunset at the Beach” 11th tier.
This is a wedding cake, after all. ;)

That is how I feel about this show and it’s ending.
I think I’m almost ranted out at this point *that 72 comment thread on my wall*, but thank you to for recapping this show @lovepark and @murasakimi , and thank you to all the Beanies for all the wonderful conversations, analysis and insights and making the recap and the wall so much fun every week.
Goodbye show!! It was nice knowing you.

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This is what I've concluded:
I would rather have a perfect show like this with an average ending, than an average show with a perfect ending.

But the finale kinda hurt, because this show was never mediocre in all the 14 episodes. It's like, we got to a point where we trusted this show so much, but it just robbed us of a little something.
You know, like when you give a kid a candy and don't let them finish it. THAT feeling.

Nevertheless, this last episode wasn't terrible by any means, it just wasn't great by the standards this show set for itself.
In its end, this show still had (some of) that spark that made it BTLIOF, but we got a diluted version of it in the finale. I'll be forever hung up on that.

I gotta hand it to this show though: whatever your opinion is about the ending-good or bad or both or neither- this show ended with a BANG.
Boy, did it make us wax poetic these last few days!

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"I would rather have a perfect show like this with an average ending, than an average show with a perfect ending."

YES.

But then again, we wouldn't care half as much if it had been an average show. An average show wouldn't have made us feel the way we did while watching BTLIOF. That's what BTLIOF is no average show. And that's what made us care. It made some of us disappointed that the finale didn't turn out the way we expected, and it made others content that it's exactly what they wanted from this show.

Either way, this really is a gem of a show because it made us analyse and reflect. What would we do if we were Ji Ho? Se hee? Some of us will make the same choices. Others won't. In the end, each character did what they thought was right for them. And that's what matters.

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*a gem of a cake. ;)
Still a gorgeous cake over all, people standing at the back of the cutting ceremony probably wouldn't even be able to tell about the top two tiers hehehe
(and yes, considering I rarely analyse characters as real life people, it gets points for that)

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Haha! SO true! It really depends on which angle your seeing this wedding cake from. Up close we can see it's not all perfect. From afar it's the best thing to come out of a kitchen. It sparkles and glitters. Lol.
But yeah, we analyse. We can be critical. But there is never a right or wrong answer. So I salute all the Beanies who are here now and who have been since BTLIOF began. I love reading all the comments so please keep them coming!

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What would we do if we were Ji Ho? Se hee? Be honest. The way they were all the time from the beginning. And that is the diluted version in the last two episodes, the fact that these characters didn't remain loyal to themselves. But then again, let us cheer anyway for the other wonderful 14 episodes 😉

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Exactly. That totally how i felt. Totally enjoy the 14-tier cake but last 2 tier was faulty! I'm speechless...

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Hahaha! I can't stop laughing at your analogy - it's so perfect. :D
I think I've held back from commenting anywhere about this episode, because as you say,

And the more you look at it, the more confused you get.

, and I felt like I had to switch off logic, in order to appreciate the good bits in this episode. But I'm really glad I got to experience this show with such a huge group of other dedicated fans, that's what I'll miss the most in the coming Mondays and Tuesdays!
And of course, Se Hee-sshi, Ji Ho-ya, Soo ji-ya and Sang Goo-oppa : I'm so glad I got to meet all of you!

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Haha! Thank you!
I was actually inspired by another beanie who said 'I just want my cake' as a metaphor of saying they wanted to enjoy the last episode, and then I was like 'you know what, this IS A CAKE' hahahah :P

It really was a nice experience all up tbh.

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Glad that my appreciation of a saccharine ending to this story inspired this metaphor, it is a very apt description of the show.
My opinion differs from most beanies, for many reasons, including that I had muted expectations for the finale and assumed the ending wouldn't be one I would love. But for me, following the cake metaphor, the first 14 tiers were of great cake by professionals. But the last two episodes felt like decisions I had made in my life, and I understood both Se-hee and Ji-ho's actions without much explanation. So, the last 2 tiers (the ones you freeze and keep to celebrate your one year wedding anniversary) were handmade by me and my husband, and the most important to us, even if the taste wasn't comparable.

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perfect explanation....hands down

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best. analogy. ever. 👍🏼

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Awesome analogy. haha

I also have been wanting to tell you how much I appreciated you for being honest about your opinions, and for giving us an opportunity to voice our own. It isn't easy to share negative opinions about something we all love. But if it weren't for you, I probably would have gone on, muttering to myself and throwing the entire cake away. Now that I've gotten all my frustrations out, perhaps I'll be able to move on and remember the good parts. 🎂 Can't wait for our next crack drama!

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Awwww!! hahaha noo don't throw the cake away! What a waste of cake! hahaha
But really, you're welcome and thank you for saying that, it's nice to know my rants help people sometimes hahaha :P

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Thank you! I was feeling awkward with how disappointed I was with the last 2 episodes. Not that they were bad but they just weren’t up to the standards of the rest of the series.

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Love this analogy!

Main gripes:
1) I still don't know why Ji-ho had to leave Se-hee.
2)I really didn't want Won-seok and Ho-rang back together again, because it was exactly the same as before! I felt like she would have been happier with the other guy, and it felt kind of unrealistic that Won-seok suddenly agrees to marriage when he was so adamantly reluctant before.
3)I can't believe that a show discussing all the complexities and harsh realities of marriage would conclude: "it's all about love, that's what's important." Yes, love is important, but it feels like every other drama ever. I guess I just adored seeing a thoughtful analysis of what marriage is, so that run-of-the-mill conclusion was a disservice to the message of the show.

But still, my second favourite drama of 2017. After Goblin of course.:)

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Why helllooo there! Thats it thats it thats it! Your 3 complaints are quite similar to mine! In fact the first is exactly the same! Granted - I've never been in love so i dont know how i would react in such a situation.

Funny enough i didnt mind WonRang getting married in the end as much as I thought I would. I had thought that the show would give us 3 types of couples : The Unconventional Main Couple, The Straight Up Couple and The Couple That Had to Move On. But they got back together didnt they? Sigh...

But overall, this was a different show and it definitely caught our attention. 👍

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The only couple I loved throughout the series was that of Su Ji and Sang Goo. They were absolutely adorable together and very frank and straight forward with each other.
It made no sense for Ho Rang and Won Seok to get married at the end. It just made it feel like everything that happened to them throughout the series was for nothing.
And I never could manage to get very excited for Ji Ho and Se Hee. I loved Ji Ho's character in the beginning of the show. But somehow she went from a person whose dream was to become a writer to someone who just wanted to fall in love. I mean did we really need that when we had Ho Rang obsessing over marriage?

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JH's ultimate dream, as she have said during that flashback scene with HR and SJ is actually "love".

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I mean, to that I would have to ask, why is dreaming about career fulfillment seen as more important and good than finding love? why is the idea of a woman wanting to find love as a dream and setting it as a priority seen as something wrong?

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I didn’t mean to imply that career fulfilment is a better dream than finding someone to fall in love and share your life with. It’s just that during the first couple of episodes we were shown how passionate Ji Ho was about her work and Ho Rang even said that she never looked happier than when she was writing. After that for the show to have backtracked and said that her dream wasn’t writing but falling in love left me feeling kind of disappointed; especially when we already had Ho Rang portraying someone with only personal aspirations and not professionally inclined. I had felt in the beginning that Ji Ho was a nice mix of Su Ji and Ho Rang - not as career driven as Su Ji but someone who had made her passion her profession and who also had personal aspirations seeing as how she was hesitant about entering into the contract marriage initially since she did hope to eventually fall in love and marry.

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Late to the party but absolutely agreed about your no.1. I wish instead of divorcing/leaving SH, JH just openly said her true feelings and take it from there. How is that protecting your love when your decision hurt the other person. And she didnt even seems happy that SH actually likes her and about to propose. Isnt that what you want at the first place tho? They should talk about it especially now both of them actually like each otherbut nope. Leaving is the answer. 😒😒😒

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Throughout this drama, we cheered on Se-hee and Ji-ho for their open, straightforward conversations. A rarity in K-dramas, here was a couple that were sensitive to each other's feelings and highly in touch with each other.

A pity that their final trajectory was inconsistent with the organic growth of their relationship from episode 1-14. They always worked out issues so well, that I had such faith that the final resolution--making their marriage the real deal, would be low-key and perfect.

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Maybe she left because you need to love yourself as much as you love your partner or even more. Her dream was real love. She wasn-t going to settle with something less. She did gave him hints, she knew he was interested, but not interested enough to fight for her, or else he would have said something when she asked. Besides, he never told her about his past, she learnt about it through his ex-almost wife. The kind of love she dreamt about requires total honesty. Also, I think she perceived he was a little bit shaken by his ex and she wanted to give him space to be sure that he wasn't asking her to be his wife only for her sake. During the whole series, they never imposed to each other. If she would have told him about her doubts, he had insisted in patching up their relationship and she hadn't got the kind of love she wanted. I agree to her that he wasn't ready. He hadn't even confess to her yet!

I'm almost forty, I've been in love several times, so I can relate to her. Finding the kind of love Ji Ho wanted is possible, but is as difficult as a needle in a haystack. I feel really blessed because my husband is that kind of love to me. We've been together for 17 years and I don't see how we could live apart from each other (sorry for my cheesiness). However, marrying him was never important to me. The most precious thing for us wasn't the destination (marriage) but the journey (love). I couldn't have married him if I had the tiniest suspicion that he wasn't on the same page, that's why I understand her actions and I enjoyed the ending.

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for 1, I get why Ji-ho had to leave Se-hee for a while because i dont think their relationship could have progressed without that. Ji-ho knew her feelings, but she also knew her hesitations, so she needed to take a step back and seee the big picture, and her leaving for a bit allowed her to do that. With Se-hee, he hadnt really changed from when he was dating the producer. He kind of broke, and Ji-ho put him back together, but I dont think he could have progressed without realizing how much he missed Ji-ho; their relationship might have endeed up like Se-hee's first relationship.

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Totally agree with you, when she explained Jung Mi her reason for getting a divorce and Jung Mi said she totally get it I was like "what??? How could you get it? I didn't understand at all what she was explainig" it was very frustrating.
I also agree that I was hoping both Won seoak and Hong Ran to take different paths in life it was the healthiest thing to do in my opinion.

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1) to make See Hee open his room 19
2) they realized "what they wanted most in life was each other". So Ho-rang doesn't mind wait for 5 years and Won Seok doesn't feel the pressure anymore

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Some more cake analogy thoughts.

Just because there may be a good recipe behind the top two tiers of the cake, (reasons for Ji Ho leaving) doesn't mean the execution of the cake is good, or that it makes the weird decorations and filling any less confusing (it dragged it out too long, didn't resolve all the reasons it posed for her leaving, lad clarity issues in its metaphors and it cut SH's development off at the knees)

Cake and show execution are important, along with a good recipe.
Also not everyone is going to like your recipe, even if it does work in some regards.
Sometimes a different recipe would've worked just as well. Sometimes this recipe would still work, if it weren't for the weird decorations and confusing execution of literally only two tiers.

Which is what this cake taster is mostly bothered by when it comes down to it.

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I think this analogy is getting old, but anyways. I think the fact that YOU didn't like the cake, it doesn't mean that theres is something wrong with it. Radiohead says "Just 'cause you feel it, doesn't mean it's there". In this case, I think it's the opposite. You don't feel it and it's ok.

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I stopped with it yesterday, don't worry. (my yesterday that is)
Also I did try to make it clear in the original that this was just how I felt about the show, if I were to give a metaphor of my feelings about it, and I found it useful for analyzing it.
Honestly, all my thoughts about the show are actually on the wall, I was just trying to summarize. *shrugs*
:)

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awesome analogy! totally sums up how i feel about those 2 last episodes.

oh how i wish i could forget those two..

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You wrote exactly what i was thinking! i couldn't say better.

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I upvoted by accident. I really don't know how to take it back. XD Petty, I know, but I really like the show enough to forgive the last two episodes.

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HAHAHAHAHA. well, I'm just laughing at this, so don't worry about it! And if you like it enough to forgive it, then that's awesome. There are tonnes of opinions about the end of this show and we need all of them ;)

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The good news is that this isn't "MacArthur Park." ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6a_KFJ5Ksc

Although space aliens may have abducted the top two layers and left changelings in their place...

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I empathize with all the comments that the last 2 episodes felt off. Building on sicarius's cake analogy, I feel like the last two layers still tasted amazing, but that the cake artist just ran out of time to finish decorating it as exquisitely as the previous 14 layers. Specifically: 1. Too much reliance on voice-overs (telling not showing); 2. Not showing that JH suffered while she was away (which was so jarring in comparison to SH); 3. Fuzzy continuity - I'm still not clear how much time elapsed between JH leaving and returning; 4. JH should have been more shocked to see what happened to SH (I don't think she would have left if she had known he would basically fall apart); 5. a more fleshed out apology to SH in the "dream" conversation, and also an explanation of why she left. That being said, I think that everything was resolved in a way that felt right, and I still think this show gets closer to perfect than any other K-RomCom I've seen. I could write a whole thesis on this show (but I wont')! One note on Room 19 - it can be a place of solace and refuge, but if it becomes your whole world, it can isolate you and cut you off from the people who love you (or who want to love you) - this is the double edged sword of people who spend a lot of time in Room 19 (and I am one of them). All in all, I loved this show so much and thank you recappers and Beanies for all your amazing comments.

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Every single one of your 5 points are so good! There are more things that are "off" in these last two episodes, but your 5 are really accurate, to me.

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After reading your comment I suddenly craving for cake!

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Ooh! Thank you for voicing this out. The last 2 ep didn't sit well with me too. But since almost all love it to bits, I take it that I am weird and maybe missed something.

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Thank you so much for your comment, I just finished watching this and was very disappointed with the 2 final episodes and very frustrated because I thought I was the only one that will feel this way about them. You analogy explained it perfectly. I would just remember the good episodes and move one.

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Perfectly explained!

I thought the 15th layer tasted ROTTEN, and when it was so close to the 16th layer, plus was there to be eaten in one big bite with the whole cake, it really threw off the taste. :*(

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Okay after reading so many thoughts, I so sincerely wish they could have a re-do for the last two epsidoes. Not like we all haven't thought that before, eh? (Hence the write-in theme for November!)

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I have a lot to say about this episode, but first I just want to say thank you to murasakimi and lovepark for the wonderful recaps as well as the cast, director, writer, and everyone who worked to make this show’s magic. Episodes 1-14 were absolute perfection for me and despite finale week’s flaws, this show still has my heart and soul and I don’t think I’ll ever forget how it made me feel. This was the first time I had so desperately waited for new episodes. It was the first time I refreshed YouTube incessantly to watch behind-the-scenes clips. It was the first time I rewatched episodes over and over again while the show was still airing because I loved the characters and the themes and the nuances so much. It was the first time I wrote such long essays on Dramabeans. It was the first time I had ever felt so intensely about a show, and I’ve been watching dramas for 7 years now. I will miss this show so much. I already miss the excruciating wait for Monday.

I’m going to start this post off with the positives, because that is my general feeling about this finale despite having problems with it. When the episode ended I was happy and my heart was full, so for that I was grateful.

First off, an easy one: Lee Min-ki’s acting. I mean, wow. He’s been giving it his all this whole show but seeing Se-hee’s walls come down while still remaining completely true to his character was just a joy to watch. Whether he’s got me in stitches blowing a kiss at his phone with a completely straight face or he’s making my heart ache when he cries or he’s making me swoon when he does literally anything, the boy delivers. I’ve liked him for a while now but this show just sealed the deal for me and he’s officially one of my favorite actors. I’m looking forward to binge-watching his movies and other dramas now.

Jung So-min was a new discovery for my in the drama. I didn’t even recognize her name when the casting for this drama was announced, but I was really blown away by her here. She really nailed Ji-ho’s character and make her so likable and relatable even when she did her “crazy” things, and even when Ji-ho made mistakes. I’m really going to start paying attention to her career now and I’m excited to see where it takes her.

The comedy in this episode was SO on point. I found myself laughing out loud too many times to count!

Su-ji and Sang-gu’s arc was brilliantly written and easily the most satisfying part of this show, possibly because their relationship had the most simple and straight-forward trajectory. They had their obstacles but they overcame them beautifully, and I was so happy for them by the end! I just about died when she got him a “son” to match her “daughter”. So cute.

I also love the tropes that finale DID subvert, specifically how the “traveling” thing was played out. I laughed out loud when Se-hee said “I think she went to Mongolia” and we cut to her and Ho-rang hanging out at a sauna, HAHA. I thought it was clever that Ji-ho went to...

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a hostel in Seoul and that’s how we got our obligatory main character speaking in English to a foreigner. So many dramas act as if the characters are fluent in English when usually their accent is so heavy you can hardly understand them, so I appreciated them actually showing Ji-ho struggling with her English.

I loved the parallels that were drawn between the beginning and the end of the show. Sticking them both in that rooftop house for a bit because of their ”homelessness” was fun. I also just really liked how the power imbalance of ”landlord” and ”tenant” was erased. I was initially sad that Se-hee’s house with all of its memories had been sold, but the fact that they are ”restarting” their relationship on equal footing with regards to housing made me happy. I felt that Se-hee overcoming his obsession with his house and his mortgage was an important indicator for his character growth.

I also thought it made complete sense for Ji-ho to want to terminate the contract and find out what marriage meant for her. It was a mature decision on her part. I totally respect that she wants to restart their relationship without being bound by the contract marriage that they have in place.

That being said, however…

I did not like that Ji-ho had to leave in order for Se-hee to open up. I’m glad that it made him finally tell her how he felt and Lee Min-ki blew me away in that scene (and the scene when he thought he was dreaming), but it just seemed a bit cruel. I think the writer dropped the ball on this aspect of the show. It seemed like an odd way to try and get him to talk. I understand that she gave him several chances to say what he was feeling and he didn’t take them, and I understand that she told him that it was only an intermission and that she would be back, but I can’t help but feel that it would have been much more rewarding to have her sit him down and talk. I think if she had pushed a little bit more, he would have opened up more. I was honestly hoping for both of them to talk about Se-hee’s past and Ji-ho’s assault together despite the fact that both of them already knew. I think that would have been an important conversation for them to have. Overall, while I understand why Ji-ho did what she did and I found it consistent with her character, I don’t believe that was the only choice her character could have made. She could have coaxed him out of his shell in a kinder way. At the very least, I wished she had explained to him a bit better why she needed time away or apologized more thoroughly for hurting him.

I suppose all in all I wish they had been able to decide what they wanted in their marriage and relationship without her having to leave. At the end they talk about how they drew out a new contract to fit their real relationship and they update it every year, and I think that is so adorable and in line with everything that this show has done. I wish they had focused more on that--building their new relationship--instead of the...

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separation angst.

I think there were several more emotional payoffs that could have happened in place of the angst created by episode 15, and I was disappointed that they didn’t come to fruition. There were a couple of things that seemed rushed in the finale, such as Ji-ho’s assault case and Ho-rang and Won-seok getting back together, and if episode 15 had been utilized better I think we could have gotten more satisfying endings for those plot points.

I’m wondering if the writer ran out of time at the end or just wasn't sure how to wrap everything up in only 16 episodes. There’s a lot of meat to this show and I feel like not everything that could have been addressed was fully developed. Even if episode 15 had been different, I think it would still have been difficult to tie up everything neatly.

Let me say that this show took on way more than most shows do and that in itself is impressive, and I think they explored their issues SO much better than probably any other drama out there that I’ve seen. However, because everything was so good, I’m disappointed that they didn’t follow through with some things as thoroughly as they could have. The monologues and the more metaphorical dialogues were also not quite as hard-hitting or relevant in this episode.

This is one of those rare instances where I think having more time (18 episodes, maybe?) would have been beneficial to the show. With the exception of episode 15 there were really no slow episodes, so I think it could have benefited from being just a biiit longer (if the writer utilized the time well).

But the episode has aired and I won’t spend too much time worrying about what could have been. The fact remains that 95% of this drama was the cream of the crop for me, and I think it’s because the show was so consistently good that I am so nit-picky at the end. When something has this enormous amount of potential, we want it to reach that. This drama is still at the top of my list along with my other ultimate faves like Answer Me 1997. I thought it would be a little closer to perfection, yes, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a perfect drama. If this is the closest that I can get for now, then that’s okay. I will always look back at this show with a smile on my face (and rewatch it tons), and I’m just so unbelievably happy that I was able to experience it.

To writer Yoon Nan-joong, PD Park Joon-hwa, Lee Min-ki, Jung So-min, Esom, Park Byung-eun, Kim Ga-eun, Kim Min-seok, Lee Chung-ah: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would kiss you all if I could. I hope you understand what this show has meant to so many people all across the world and how deeply we felt while watching it. You have created a truly amazing thing and you should be proud. I love you all!

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You weren’t kidding when you said you weee writing an essay! Thank you for your thoughts, mindy, they were a joy to read!

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Thank you for summing up everything that was lovely, and everything that could have been. I agree with pretty much everything you said. The show was sweet, imperfect, but still had a special sparkle.

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YES YES YES! I agree with you on most of the points. i was happy with the finale but i guess even my expectations had skyrocketed subconsciously. of course I am happy that SH and JH got their happy ending but it wasn't upto my expectations(yeah yeah I am still holding grudges from episode 15)...while JH got what she wanted ,I felt that it could have easily gone wrong.SH could have completely destroyed himself pining for her and he almost did...so while I was happy with their reunion it didn't have the same impact for me... she forced him to open up his room 19...when i thought the whole point of that was to keep somethings private no matter how close they are....yes SH needed to show his emotions...and reveal his feelings for her....but i am not quite happy with the way it was done (sorry)
as for HR and WS, I feel conflicted. while i am happy that they got back together, on the other hand i felt as though it was too convenient..as if to just tie everything up in a neat little bow...well I guess all's well that ends well....SH playing matchmaker..guess that was a pleasant surprise...
SJ and SG well they were perfection...i will leave it at that....
I also liked the parallels drawn between HR and WS and JH and SH marriage...while the former decide to stay with their in laws..the latter chose to consciously stay away from them...i guess it all comes down to an understanding with your better half...as JH said we can't understand each other if we don't try..i don't think i am making sense..hehe...
in the last scene JH was sitting on the couch...i thought she was more comfortable on the floor...well i am done with my nitpickings...
all in all i can't take away the praise and credit that this entire team deserves...this was a gem of a show...i have watched dramas before..but not one that compelled me to think so much about the characters and their actions....so much so that i opened an account on DB just to share my thoughts even though i have been a silent spectator here for almost 2 years....this goes right up on the top of my all time favourites along with reply 1997(yes mindy me too)...i wish the cast and crew all the best and hope to see them in the future soon..along with you fellow beanies....because..... after all this is my first time commenting on a drama...

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts! It was a great read. I hope to see you in other recap/comment threads!

Also- I agree with your point about Room 19. I thought the same as you. Room 19 was supposed to be a private space for the individual to retreat to. Something that they don't need to share with others (no matter how close they are). So why did Ji ho feel the need to enter into Se hee's Room 19? And more particularly, what exactly was inside Se hee's Room 19? (It definitely is not what Sang-gu suggested, LOL). Was it Jung-min? His past with her? Or was it just a room where he kept all his emotions and feelings locked up? Because if it was the latter, I could understand Ji Ho wanting to know the feelings of Se hee who has never opened himself up to her.

So, while I understand Ji Ho, I still don't think she had the right to force open Se hee's Room 19. In her mind she had decided that Se hee will not open up himself so she was going to force it out of him. And that's why she left. I believe that Se hee was ready to open up (the proposal is one indication). He had already found out how much he loves her so he would have confessed and told her how he feels. But, I still get the feeling that Ji ho would have left anyway? Even if he had confessed, it probably was not enough?

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@ravennightstar

For me, JiHo left for herself, that's it. Because SeHee was too difficult for her to handle, because the marriage was way too messy for her to cope with.

She didn't know what the hell was going on and even when she does know that he does love her, she couldn't comprehend how deep his Mariana-Trench-depth of love for her was until his half-asleep confession and after learning that he sold his house in just the two months she was away. (His house!)

I'm not quite sure she even expected him to change much, if at all.

I did think for a moment that she was manipulating him into forcing his emotions out into the wide open when she revealed that she was only in Insadong the whole time... but I realised that she never intended to come back when she left and really left for her own sake. Only once she realised that she couldn't give up on SeHee, she went back to him, chasing after him like this is a brand new relationship. And thankfully, SeHee got it this time. You don't have to be cheesy, but it's best to be honest with your feelings and ideas so that everyone knows where they stand with you and where you're coming from. You don't make decisions for them. Trust that they can handle whatever truths you throw their way and trust that they will tell or show you if they cannot. Only then do you decide your next step.

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@ravennightstar

And I just wanted to add that, yeah, so I thought that when she was about to leave, no matter what he did, she'd still leave, because she's leaving for herself.

I believe that everone needs to have their Room 19 but JiHo wanted to enter SeHee's because his Room 19 stores EVERYTHING. From his spontaneous real emotions to his average desires. And that just makes her confused because she doesn't know what to make of him at all.

Room 19 should only be for one's own deepest darkest secrets and desires, personal things that once revealed will break you apart. SeHee was breaking apart because his Room 19, which stores his feelings, was kept shut.

JiHo probably just wanted a look at his spontaneous emotions and average ideas. Everything else, she'll leave in there. She learnt about his past only by accident, and she's never demanded that he explain everything. I think she recognises that that is the part of SeHee's Room 19 that she shouldn't touch. Unless he offers to open up himself.

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That's the thing that disturbed me a lot, that it could have gone south. It reminded me of a film I watched. In the film, there were two best friends and one of them was a wallflower kind of person who loves to live in her own dreamy world. The other friend, in an attempt to bring her out of her shell, writes letters to her in the name of another person upon whom the friend had a little crush. But things went bad due to some unpredictable events and the little prank cost a lot to both of them.
I know what happened here was not as serious but I can never understand people playing god when other people's emotions are involved.

BTW enjoyed the drama a lot.

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I agree with you about Room 19. I feel like forcing him to open up his Room 19 was a little too much like the trope of the heroine having to know everything about the hero and trying to heal the hurt hero, even though it looked like Ji Ho was rebelling against the trope when she left.

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But... Do you remember how the book ends? The couple gets divorced because the woman chooses to keep the secret of the room over her husband's hurt. I think that, maybe, what the author tried to convey is that although having a room 19 is necessary, it can't be more important than your relationship. When you really love someone, you have to make lots of concessions to make it work.

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Thanks for your thoughts Mindy!

Just wanted to add that of the many tropes that were subverted, I loved that we didn't have the age old "we met as kids."
I hate that trope, and it makes me roll my eyes every time. It should just be killed and never be used, except in the cases where it's actually beneficial to the plot, like in friends-to-lovers stories.

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*TWO THUMBS UP!* *MORE IF I HAD THEM*

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I totally agree with your opinion. I'm okay with the last two episodes and I'm happy with the ending but I don't like that Ji Ho acted in a cruel way to See Hee.

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thank you for writing this. but i have to disagree with you with how the last two eps have been presented. i am a minority here who doesn't think the the last 2 episodes are flaw at all. it is intentional to be like it is, just like boknam painful episodes. i can't deny eps 15 was puzzling, partly because i clearly didn't get idea with JH logic. but then after watched eps 16, i finally got the whole message of the show. since ep1, this show was nothing but told us the story about marriage.
the first half of the show tell us how two people meet and get married. even though marriage is advertised as the way to celebrate love between two people, sometime if not all the time, irl people are settle down less than that. sometime we married because our partner fits our need, or because we fits theirs. in this show, of course the reason is typical dramaland, but irl people do married more of practical reason like the perfect timing,social pressure, ages, financial benefit, to have kid soon, etc.
and then come the second half, where they're actually falling in love. some people do loving their partner after they get married. but some married people don't, they just get compromise with it.
the last two episodes, JH got confused and she got scared even though knowing SH going to "propose" to her. at that time, she also confused why she didn't feel happy with SH mutual feeling. that's because she didn't want them to be that couple who 'fortunate' enough to fall in love after marriage. JH dream is to be in love, so her logic to think that marriage supposed to be about love was she being truthful with her character. when she decided to end their 'contract', it was not about SH, or JM, or SH's father. that decision was about her, and her feeling, that she wanted to protect that pure feeling. as confusion as it is, it does make sense to me in a way she respect the marriage as something as sacred as love. so realizing that their marriage was only based on trivial reason, and how wrong that they took it lightly, seemed to insult the love itself, and she didn't want to start a relationship or marriage based on false circumstances. that's why she did the intermission. i oppose people who said JH being passive aggressive or manipulating here by leaving SH. all i see that she wanted to start it all over again but with the right reason. and i don't think she planed to leave as "leaving forever". she clearly said that to JM when JM thinks she got divorced for good, and mock the way JM thinking. she was leaving but still planed to go back, that's what the 'mongolian' story was all about, and that intermission question. she wanted to make sure her own feeling first. she never intended to leave him. of course, what she didn't realize that SH didn't get the message (well, you and me both, pal). in the end, her intermission also helped SH deal with his own problem (his father, closure with JM, his true feeling about JH) and it helped...

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...and it helped their relationship in the way SH finally opened up his emotion.
people say marriage and love is not always the same, but shouldn't it be ? i think that's what this show is trying to remind us and i believe the last two episodes are required to be made like it is, albeit not caters what most kdrama viewer amused by, in order to deliver that beautiful message.

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I don't necessarily view Ji Ho's leaving as being cruel nor do I agree that Se Hee could be coaxed out of his shell and profess his love for Ji Ho. Se Hee had opportunities but failed to express the feelings and thoughts that Ji Ho longed to hear. When it was clear that she wanted to terminate their contract and leave, Se Hee obliged given his promise to Ji Ho's mother of not stopping her in pursuit of what she wanted to do. Admittedly, Ji Ho did manipulate their relationship by leaving and then later on returning when the timing was right. Se Hee needed to feel and thus recognize the hurt and depths of his feelings for Ji Ho. This profound emotional discomfort drove him to handle the loss by taking a leave from work, drinking a bit too much and finally crying. And who cannot relate to such a reaction when you've been left and regrettably not acted on your feelings? He seemed to be flatlining until the jolt of love opened the flow of anger and tears which Ji Ho longed to see.
Granted that certain issues were not handled in detail ie the assault on Ji Ho or a more in depth discussion of the relationship between Se Hee and Jung Min, but not all issues need to be viewed under the microscope and thus become laborious efforts on clarification and justification. That they were addressed and seemingly handled were enough so as not to distract from nor dilute the story of the main characters. 16 episodes were perfect; any more would have been superflous and the succinctness of the finale episode would have been compromised and less impactfully delightful, romantic, tender, heartwarming and heartfulfilled.

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Less is more.

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Everyone is forgetting that we knew what Se hee was thinking from the voiceover because we're the outside observer. Ji Ho couldn't read his mind like we did but she knew she couldn't and wouldn't be responsible for taking care of him if he couldn't resolve his emotions and tell her how he felt. She was taking a big chance. The other thing is how the writer really did subvert the separation trope by having Ji ho not really leave, especially for very long. I think it was only a couple of weeks because that's how long Se hee took his vacation. I also think our expectations were not only too high but also we probably already predicted in our own mind that things would happen the way we wanted them to. Maybe they were hoping for a higher rating and an extended episode, or maybe some scenes were cut for plot's sake. The last episode was very long (22 minutes over?). If they had added the cute sound effects and musical cues it would have helped our mental state. I wasn't as disappointed as most of the comments I've read so far and I wonder if you didn't just expect it to be worse because of past experience. I'm waiting for someone to analyze it in a positive light.

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I miss the cute sound effects, which I think a bit lacking in the last 2 episodes. At second watch, and with a re-adjusted view of episode 15, I think the viewing experience was a bit different. During my first watch of ep 16, I came into it already feeling upset and confused with episode 15, which, of course, reflected in my biasness when viewing the show. I was more critical and annoyed with little things. At second viewing with re-adjusted understanding, I was like.. hey, it wasn't all that bad, it was okay. I'm pretty much happy with it. Maybe it's because I want closure, but maybe because I have too high hopes on the show that I WANT it to end on my terms (I'm a selfish viewer haha).

But overall, I think I'm pretty happy, and I'm actually eager to read more positive comments so I could ease my previously confused heart.

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First, let me preface this with I did not like the story arc between JH and SH in episode 15, and I I was upset with myself that I didn't wait to see both 15 and 16 together. I hated seeing SH going through all what he did, and I got miffed when I saw JH having fun with HR at the sauna and baking cakes, clueless to what SH was going through. (Why didn't that get conveyed through her friends? Why didn't SG check up on him?) So I was just really not liking that part of the show...But..this statement:

"nor do I agree that Se Hee could be coaxed out of his shell and profess his love for Ji Ho."

I totally agree with that statement. I'm not so sure that Se Hee would have come out with the words that Ji Ho wanted to hear that day on the couch. I can only remember one of the statements he was contemplating saying to her in his form of "confessing": "Should we get married for real?" That's like "Should we sleep together?" Even though SE asked JH that, and she agreed to it, she still felt that her love was one-sided, and at THAT time, it was enough for her. This time, something like "Should we get married for real" wasn't going to cut it with her. She even said all of 3 of his ways of "confessing" were cheesy.

And I too was like "why won't she just be clear and tell him what's bothering her?" I would have liked seeing more open and honest communications like they did at the beginning, but I understand how it turned out to be this way in the end (another topic). but I digress..

So, say if she sat and explained to him why she felt she needed to leave, and her frustrations with him not showing any emotions with her - Idk, maybe he would have said "Saranghae" after they did the deed ;P (- ugh! mind get out of the gutter! but you know what I'm talking about..I digress again! SQUIRREL! Lol at myself!)

continuing on...so, she share how she feels...I just see him listening intently, maybe nodding that he understands how she feels, but I don't think it would have changed anything as far as how he acted. I still think it would have been difficult for him to change right then and there. Sometimes people need a little jolt to wake them up. I think that Se Hee probably needed to go through SOMETHING before he could truly express to JH some of those emotions that he locked up and put away for 12 years.

Anyhoo, still love love love the show!

I know this was long. Thanks for reading

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Sorry if any of the above didn't make sense. It's late and I'm tired. Hopefully you are able to get the gist of it. :)

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I think most of us forget that the reason Ji-Ho's leaving isn't Se-Hee but herself. She never meant it to open his heart. It was meant to know herself. She wanted a fresh start by erasing whatever status and situation they were in. She did plan to comeback to see what was left in her heart, not what will happen to Se-Hee because she left. It showed when she visited his house, thinking that he will be there, living his usual life.

At first, when I watched episode 15, I cursed the writer too. I blamed writer-nim for ruining my beloved heroine character. But after watching episode 16, I finally found peace about Ji-Ho act. And I love the writer for making it so subtle for us to analize and find it ourself.

Btw, love your comments. You are one of the most consistent and thorough beanies. As a newbie who register only after this drama even thought I have been a silent reader for years, I learn a lot from you. Thank you so much. Let's meet again in another great drama.

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Exactly right!

This is one time where I am getting a bit frustrated reading beanie comments. Not because I think I am right or they're wrong but because THEY DID NOT WATCH THE SEQUENCE PLAY OUT IN THE DRAMA and therefore have made some incorrect assumptions.

1) JH separating from SH and coming back WAS NOT HER PLAN. At the time, JH did NOT intend to come back. Her breakup with SH in Ep 15 was, to her, an end to their relationship. There was no nefarious plot to manipulate him.

2) JH deciding to come back to SH was BEFORE she had any knowledge that SH had changed. (she went to the old apartment - remember). She came back, not to fulfill some manipulative plot, but to TRY to rekindle a relationship that she finally understood in herself that she wanted.

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I totally get what your saying, however her comments about Mongolians returning and their relationship being a game of two halves made me think that she did intend to come back and restart the relationship on her terms when she was ready. Maybe I've misread the plot but that's how it appeared to me.

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@Sarah

I am reading subs so perhaps this may not be accurate.

The Mongolian story struck me. But this is my interpretation

1) It is about a death... a metaphor for the end of a relationship
2) The send the body to a distant location... i.e. separation from the relationship
3) They return... i.e. revisit their memories
4) If the body is there it was an unhappy death... i.e. if bad memories remain then perhaps the relationship was bad to begin with
5) If the body has gone then it was a joyous death... i.e. the bad memories have faded. Even though the relationship has ended, there is peace in knowing that it ended well.

This is why this story, accentuates the point that she never had intention to return to SH. To her she was only wondering if the memory of this relationship was going to be sad or happy.
This is indicative of her confusion. She thinks the relationship has ended. She doesn't know if it will remain a happy or sad memory for her.

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Maybe our perceptions of the drama are just based on whether or not we think Jiho intended to come back. For me, she did. I.e. The conversation with Sehee about intermission, the conversation with Jm about "why is (divorce) a sad ending?", the fact that she said that she loved him and yet didn't appear heartbroken at all after she left, we're all indicators to me that she was planning on coming back. To each his own I suppose, art allows us to perceive and interpret the same work differently.

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+1000000 Thank you for this comment. My thoughts, exactly.

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If she didn't mean to come back then why would she say on the bus as she was leaving, The first part of our relationship was about marriage, I want the second part to be about love.

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I agree that there was no nefarious plot to manipulate him. My read on the rest was that JH left to see what was in her heart and didn't know if she would be back. I was fine with that. My problem was that I felt mixed messages were being sent with the intermission remark, the letter, the first half marriage, second half love narration and it made it hard to know what the heck was going on in JH's mind.

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@latebloomer

The editing of ep 14, 15 and 16 is a bit of a problem. So I tried to piece it together as a time sequence instead of the drama scene sequence.

0) JH meets SH's dad for dinner and gets money from him. On the way back JH thinks she took marriage too lightly.
1) After she comes home, JH announces desire to end contract to SH. They talk and JH cries that night.
2) JH wakes up next morning and SH has fed the cat and taken the recycling out
3) JH goes to cafe and resigns. About the same time SH is talking to his parents about divorce.
4) JH goes to meet JM at rock climbing. SH and SG are drinking and SH asks about how to propose.
5) JH goes to meet SJ for drinks where she learns of SH's proposal question from SJ. JH tells SJ that she is hurting because of her marriage.
6) On the way back home from SJ's place, JH meets SG and drunk SH. (somewhere here SJ also drives to her mum's place??)
7) JH has conversation with SG. As SG leaves, he gets text from WS. WS and HR talk on the phone.
8) While SH is drunk sleeping, JH gets call to go to hospital
9) JH has conversation with her mum. (and gets scolded for taking divorce too lightly).
10) She returns home makes soup/tea for SH and writes letter mentioning Mongol burial ceremony that she hides.
10) JH meets SH's mum next morning returns money. SH gets call and meets JM around the same time. He learns that JH knew about their former relationship.
11) JH returns home to pack and clean and SH returns from meeting JM.
12) JH and SH end contract. JH tells SH she already informed parent's. SH decides not to propose.
13) JH leaves. At the door she asks about soccer intermission.
14) On the bus she thinks about the second half of her relationship.
15) SH cries that night.

Only some time later does SH find out about the letter and reads about the Mongol story (and assumes that JH went there)

From this time sequence, I think it is probably accurate to say that JH intended to end the relationship before the idea of the intermission came to her.

The Mongol burial story in the letter (indicating the relationship has ended) is written BEFORE JH leaves. JH says she's hurting and doesn't see happiness in marriage and love.

The question of the soccer intermission happens as she's leaving. This is after JH kept asking SH if he had anything more to say and if he was going to rent out his place to another tenant. (At this point JH knows that SH has decided against proposing to her)

The idea of a 2nd half only verbalized AFTER JH left SH. (this is the unrealistic part - it happens too quickly. Would have been better if it happens around the time when JH was talking to HR in the sauna. This is drama land time after all!)

This is why I don't feel JH intended any cruelty or manipulation of SH at the time of their divorce. She genuinely wanted to end the marriage and relationship.

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@tummy
Number 5 on your sequence is actually before number 1, I think. It was when she visited SuJi and drank beer with teary eyes.

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@tikasitompul

Hard to say - it could be that you're right. I am going by JH clothes (ha ha!) to place that conversation scene in time.

JH is wearing the same clothes when she hears about the proposal SMS from SJ as when she tears up telling SJ she's hurt by the relationship. (these two snippets are separated by at least 1 drama episode, I believe)

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It's weird. I sort of understood Ji Ho when she left in episode 15, but then episode 16 left me a little confused about her. I'm pretty sure she didn't intend to come back...but somehow this episode seemed to have her come back too easily? Episode 15 and 16 really felt like the writer ran out of time, so it seemed like the writer took JH's decision to leave too lightly.

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If there is one flaw of this show (mentioned by a few beanies in different forms) is that everything happens too quickly (even by drama-land standards).

The entire Bok-Nam thing, the decision to marry, the wedding ceremony, the time interval between the memorial event and the kimchi event, the time it took for the beach conversation/kiss... is all sorta time compressed. Makes it seem like this entire drama except for last episode happened in the space of a month or two.

And although the editing was pretty good, the intercuts back and forth makes it a bit difficult to follow the sequence of events. It's effective to do a slow reveal of motivation - but can be a bit overdone here.

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@tummy
You're right. Most of the episode is about one or two days events. The BokNam thing started from the first morning after marriage (end of episode 6), the same day she's already on his bike, next day is first day at work and the same day at night is the end of episode 7. Only 2 days.
Episode 8 is event shorter. Only 1 day.
They actually married only for a few weeks! Hahahaha!!!

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THANK YOU. i made the same comment before i read yours. i am very happy i am not the one who think JH left because of her own confusion, and not because she tried to teach SH "a lesson", as people say she's being manipulative. now knowing some people do catch the last 2 episodes meaning, i can happily re-watching this show and appreciated it even more.

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That’s one of my main issues with the finale ~ they never ACTUALLY TALKED about their room 19s. All that processing was done with Jung Min separately instead of together. 🧐

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I think this was a fairly good example of "show" rather than "tell".

In their reconciliation breakfast - JM says she's happy that SH is finally revealing his emotions to her. This implicitly means he is now taking things out of his room 19 and sharing them with her.

The whole point of JH coming back to SH is that she has realised that she is willing to be with JH even if he never shows her what is in his room 19. She accepts her happiness is with him, regardless. (so it makes the room 19 thing moot for her)

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Thanks for expressing so many of the things I thought and felt about this drama.

I think one of the things that was disappointing about the last two episodes was that they were predictable, instead of surprising us the way the earlier episodes did. I think they turned out this way because the writer had already decided on the reconciliation scene between Se Hee and Ji Ho, where Se Hee has lost everything but Kitty, and finally melts down and expresses his feelings. That was a beautiful scene, beautifully acted by Lee Min Ki, but was it worth the contrived separation?

How much more powerful would it have been if Se Hee had taken responsibility for her tears in a different way that night, and had opened her bedroom door instead of backing away. Backing away was the predictable route. He could have surprised her and us by opening the door, comforting her and expressing his feelings for her. In other words, crossing his own boundaries in the same way he did when he kissed her on the sea wall. That would have been less predictable and would have shown more growth on his part. When you think about it, what growth did he show in the last two episodes as they were written? He retreated not only from Ji Ho, never making any effort to stop her from leaving or find her after she left, but also retreated from his apartment and his job. He didn't do anything to move forward, except melt down and express his misery. And Ji Ho got to reconcile with him without ever having to explain why she put him through that, so it didn't really feel like she had earned her happy ending either.

Last gripe: I really got tired of hearing about Room 19. It was effective to start with, but it got tiresome through overuse and misuse. And the same with the star pocket and the Mongolian bones.

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The Mongolian bones, in particular, was some incredible opaque nonsense when intended as metaphor here. I felt like Ji Ho's mother, responding to her nonsense with "Bullshit!" and walking away muttering curses.

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Interesting that you read the final SH episodes so differently from me. (No right or wrong answers so this is not a criticism)

SH moving out of his apartment (his safe space), his taking time off from his job (his profession), his desire to get drunk and eat with WS (his physical isolation), his meltdowns (his emotional isolation), are significant moves FORWARD.

And JH never had to explain her actions (in my mind). For a woman who never dated or had romantic relations - she accepted his invitation to sleep with him (and she WAS anticipating sex that night). In this respect, she has physically and emotionally shown SH that she's all in (and he knew implicitly she was a virgin too. It doesn't take a genius to know the significance of that step for her). In return, she got nothing from SH. (yes, he should have opened the door that night) If I were in her position - I'd be throwing bricks at his head rather than simply move out.

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"SH moving out of his apartment (his safe space), his taking time off from his job (his profession), his desire to get drunk and eat with WS (his physical isolation), his meltdowns (his emotional isolation), are significant moves FORWARD."

This!

And I am certain that if JiHo didn't comeback after some time, SeHee will search and find her himself. Selling his house and leaving his job temporarily is his way, consciously or unconsciously, to cut everything that tie and lock him down.

But in another parallel world, @lindag scenario would be awesome too. It would be great if he had open the door and comfort her.
And honestly, I have lots of parallel world about this drama. We only need imagination and idle time for that.
Imagination also needed to fill some missing parts. For example, what happen after the reconciliation kiss to the cuddling at night? JiHo lost her sweater while SeHee still dressed the same. Did he go straight to sleep? Hmmm....

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Mindy,I love this essay! you are one of the most faithful amongst all Beanies who live watched BTIOFL.

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*awaiting moderation* :P

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Hahaha! Only you, sic!

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Shoot and apparently me too! 😂 (awaiting moderation, that is)

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It's cos I tagged the recappers I think hahah :P

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Dear BTLIOF, because and despite of everything:
Thank you for all the romance, bromance, womance AND catmance!

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On a different note....
This might sound weird (even to me), but I'm not heartbroken that this show ended like I usually am when a show I love does. I am a little sad, and I will surely miss it, but...
The fact that it happened is enough for me.

I laughed and cried, for AND with the characters. This show took me so deep into their worlds, but also out of myself and got me thinking about MY own life. It was so poignant at times that while watching it, I often felt like I was also having a conversation with myself.
For that, we have to thank the great directing, the nuanced acting, and the eloquent writing. It wasn't all perfect, but it damn NEARLY was.... and that counts for something.
Now that it's over, for me BTLIOF will inhabit its own special place in my heart and exist in its near-perfection forever.

Thank you show, for existing and reminding us all that indeed: THIS IS OUR FIRST LIFE. Sometimes, it can surprise us... if we let it. And we're allowed to make mistakes, but we must also not forget to be kind to ourselves or others.

Lastly, shout-out to @lovepark and @murasakimi for the wonderful recaps and always putting things in perspective. Your words always added a layer to my own interpretations.
I'm also grateful to YOU Beanies, for all the insightful, intelligent and fangirling/boying discussions we had. It's always a pleasure.
Until we meet in the next recap of another amazing show!

(PS: Just edited this comment, bc the original was "awaiting moderation", I think bc I said "last but not least?" Didn't wanna wait though)

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Even I'm not heartbroken that this show has ended - it's like I've experienced it in so much detail during it's run - through all the waiting, and pondering, and reading Beanies' comments - that now my stomach is finally full (continuing @sicarius's cake analogy :p) and I'm completely satiated, and need nothing more. :D [But.. another behind the scenes/NG video will be posted, and I'll have to eat my words as I rush to re-watch it over and over, but eh, what's new in that. :p ]

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I have the same feeling. There were things I didn't love about the episode (that I go into in my own comment), but the show did do a wonderful job of feeling complete in the end. It would almost feel wrong to go back for more episodes, like ruining something precious.

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Aiiish sorry for posting twice. Got too excited in copy pasting. TT_TT
Delete button isn't working?

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I love this show because of how much it taught me about myself. My personality is similar to Se Hee. I too find it difficult to express my emotions. I assume that the person can notice my care for them through my actions rather than my words. It's me thinking that I'm being considerate to the person by not getting angry or sad towards them. I learned that not everyone will appreciate this and it can actually be more of a burden to the other person because the will always be unsure about how you truly feel about them. Sometimes you really have to say it in words in order for them to know. I hope people can understand us Se Hee types also. Due to anxiety, shyness, or past traumas, sometimes it really is that difficult expressing yourself freely. We feel a lot more than people realize and go to the extreme when hurt (e.g selling your house when your g.f breaks up with you...LOL). It's not a lack of interest or commitment, it's just us being cautious and assuming we're being considerate towards you. Patience is key, the emotions will come, it just takes a while to become comfortable.

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You're right.
Sometimes the people that seem like they don't feel at all, are the ones that feel the most.

Also, yes LOL to Se-hee selling his house... considering that JH was gone for like 1-2 months.
I'm not an expert, but I guess love can really strike you hard.

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My husband is like that, too. At the beginning of our relationship he used to drive me crazy because I never knew what he was feeling. So one day I told him "look, if you don't speak to me, I won't have other choice, and I'll have to guess. And the thing is I'm not veru optimistic so my guess will be always the worst scenario". After that he understood that I really needed his words to clarify the meaning of his actions and we've been together for half of my life.

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A close to perfect drama. Best drama ever.

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A lot of beanies have expressed a bit of disappointment at the last few episodes. Most of them directed at Ji-Ho's leaving and wondering why the writer chose this path.

From reading the many comments, it seems that many were hoping for a gradual deepening of the relationship without any major discontinuities.

To be honest, my immediate feelings after watching ep 15 were not dissimilar. A bit frustrated and feeling that the story became a bit forced with the usual "separation" trope. But I think ep 15 and 16 when watched together brings the drama to a really satisfying and logical close and very much kept to the tone of the entire series.

In previous comments, I used the term "run away" to describe JH's actions but I would really like to revise that to "move forward". This is entirely consistent with her character.

The genesis of this drama was JH meeting SH at the lowest point in her life. When she was finally ready to give up and start "going back" rather than "moving ahead". She said that her life was already a failure and was prepared to go home to her family and give up her plans to be a writer.

JH is idealistic, to a fault, and is hyper aware of her feelings. Although she felt, in the preceding episodes to ep15, that she had found a "sacred love" she was unprepared for the complexities of marriage and relationship with an actual person in the form of SH. She found her "love" didn't bring her much happiness at the time - and how true is that in reality!

Although we see in the last episode that, in terms of the physical world, SH had changed the most - giving up his cherished house, it is worth looking twice at how they got back together. The scenes where JH baked a cake and intended to ask SH to restart their relationship clearly indicates she had rethought her ideals in much the same way as SH had also changed. Recall that she didn't know that SH had moved house or that SH had become more willing to talk. She was now indicating that, warts and all, she was accepting SH as a person with no more preconditions. Finding out his change was a pleasant discovery and not something she anticipated had already happened.

To me, this is the most significant point of this separation. It could appear (to many beanies) that she was manipulating or forcing SH to change on her behalf. But the sequence of the drama shows that this is in fact, untrue. She already changed her thinking during the separation period prior to knowing anything had changed about SH.

And this completes a very satisfying arc in the story as well as thematically to the entire drama - both of them consciously and individually CHOOSING TO CHANGE while neither being sure that the change would lead to them back together. This is a story of self discovery as much as finding the one true pairing.

I am so glad that the writer didn't choose to use some dramatic element like sudden illness/accident, ex GF/BF, moving overseas for the final...

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arc. It ended on a very true note for the main characters.

Thanks for the recaps.

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You sum it beautifully. As we discussed above, JiHo left SeHee for herself and not because she tried to manipulate SeHee. One think I am sure though, she planned to comeback. It is after all an intermission. They took time to evaluate what went wrong and made a new plan. Her plan was meant for herself, the leaving and the coming back. Never intended as a maneuver to bend SeHee.

If JiHo didn't come back after a certain time, perhaps SeHee will live everything and go to (Mongolia? Or Namhe?) in order to find her. He already sold his house and SangGu thought he will give up his job too.

And that, looking for JiHo, will be his second half after the intermission.

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I agree. She left for herself, and she was being the same old JH who isn't thinking about what will happen in the future. The driving factor of JH's actions was always her feelings, after all. She was just back at being a defender, imo.

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Ah... the Defender thing... I almost forget about it.

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Thank you for summing this up 😭 sending virtual hug for this comment!!!

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Yes! I completely agree. She was going to try to make things work with SH even if nothing had changed. She just needed to clear her head and get strong again. I think she was genuinely shocked to find out how much had changed in his life. Something I wish the final episode had had more time to show.

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I had sort of the opposite feeling abt episodes 15 and 16. I wasn't too frustrated with Ji Ho in episode 15, since I thought I understood all the reasons why she left. I liked how she was willing to get some space for herself. She didn't intend to come back, but I got the feeling she would and then they would talk it out and their relationship would be rock solid. Then I watched episode 16 and felt like maybe I didn't know why she left, and that something was missing to cement their relationship. The ending narration and how they signed a new contract helped ease some of that.

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thank you for all the lovely recaps! [murasakimi too]

i really loved this drama. ji ho in particular — even if her actions in the finale episodes were polarizing for some viewers.

i’ll admit that i didn’t see the reveal that she knew se hee was gonna confess coming [i try not to predict what’d happen next in this show too much; i think that’s worked out for the best]. but even so. i think her leaving for a while to give both her and SH space to figure things out was completely justified. yes, she knows that he likes her, but she also knows how tragic his first almost-marriage was. she said they should end the contract in part because she felt trapped by it, the overbearing expectations of her in-laws, and the institution of marriage in general. of course she wants him to tell her what HE wants, and i’m sure she was hoping — in those moments when she asked if he had anything else to say to her in ep 15 — that he would confess to her, tell her to stay with him, etc. she wants him to actively choose her, not because she happened to appear in the right place at the right time. and yet, she knows through jung min how painful, devastating, and traumatic the first choice he made was. JH said it to her mother-in-law herself: it’s true that that was in the past, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t happen again in a different form. so she’s firm on her decision to leave, because her and SH both need to mull over what their relationship means to them, and how they can manage being in a relationship with each other in light of the external circumstances that impose upon it.

her mongolia letter encapsulated this really well. the letter makes it clear that she’s not leaving for his sake, but for her own sake too. though it was hilarious that SH took it more literally than it was meant to be, i think his misreading of the letter also signified a change in his interiority. as he told SG last week, JH is a transparent person. and he has mostly managed to read her pretty well and be respectful of her thoughts and feelings. but by the time he reads the letter, he’s so caught up in his own wallowing and the intensity of his own feelings for her, that he has to ask kitty what JH is thinking [and that reminds me that he also didn’t get the significance of JH putting the nametag on kitty again, for the same reason]. i’m sure the excessive beer drinking didn’t help.

and that’s why he was so mad when she told him that she’s been in insadong the whole time. his reaction is totally valid because, yeah, he sold his apartment, drank himself into a stupor, and could barely sleep because she left him. i found their reunion scene so, so moving: SH [in his alleged dream state, lol] finally tells JH how he feels, and JH in turn realizes how much he missed her, and apologizes. she apologized again the next morning, and thanked him for opening his room 19 to her. i think that’s enough. i don’t see anything wrong with her having a chuckle because he finally had an...

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...Emotional Outburst in front of her — it wasn’t trivializing his feelings, and how else should she have reacted? i mean, they did enough crying the night before. it would’ve been emotionally manipulative for her to do all this while knowing in advance that he would sell the house, take time off from work, damage his liver through cass binge-drinking, and so on…but how could she have known all that was going to happen, when he’s never been vulnerable enough in front of her to let her know how important she is to him?

i don’t know if JH was 100% sure what his answer would be when she came back to give him the cake. but she gave herself time to process what she wants, and now wants to find out what he wants. and that’s what we get with the chicken and beer scene, which was heartwarming, cute, and funny all at once. basically this show — and these two wonderful characters [who are flawed people, but perfectly formed characters in this narrative imo] — in a nutshell.

finally...i can’t help but wonder how different the critique of these two characters would look if their genders were switched.

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Wow... I can't stop nodding while reading your comments. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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Thanks for the recap! I...wasn’t totally satisfied with this episode. I think the ending saved it a little by going back to the contemplative, sweet show that we know and love but I can’t get over Ji-ho’s total lack of communication and empathy for what she put Se-hee through. I understand needing some extra time to make sure this is what she wanted, but she could have told Se-hee her plans instead of walking out and then basically manipulating him into confessing. I was kinda mad, and it made me annoyed when they reconciled, rather than happy. Her leaving would have made more sense if they’d had a big fight or something, but I had hoped that with where they were in their relationship, she’d show Se-hee the respect of informing him of what was going on. I just didn’t get her gap in logic, and it put a stain on this finale for me. Granted, Se-hee also kept freezing up instead of confessing, so I can see how the separation was necessary narratively and how he needed to grow too...But the whole thing just felt off to me.

However, I will still remember this show as a funny, thoughtful look at pursuing love and your dreams, instead of remembering this weird misstep. I loved each and every one of these characters, and the different topics and hardships it addressed were so painfully real that I feel like I grew as a person right along with our characters. I will miss you, show!

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I can be forgiving of all the missteps in this last episode- HR and WS hurriedly back together, the point of JH's non-trip, the reason for not signing a contract with JM, the unresolved sexual assault case, whathaveyou, etc.
But there's one thing I CANNOT forgive:

Why did they make JH (bc I'm not mad at JH herself, but the writer) act so NON-CHALANTLY the morning she got back to Se-hee?
First off all, the night before...she found SH nursing a broken heart, and got to know how much she actually meant to him. The poor boy thought he was dreaming, thought she wouldn't be next to him come morning. That was a great performance by both actors and such a raw, beautiful moment... but then YOU LET HIM WAKE UP ALONE?!! After you said you loved him? In what world is that right? Did you not see his heart bleeding (and mine)? Though a bit inebriated, wasn't he technically showing how he really feels?

I felt that JH's self-righteous attitude at breakfast was just adding insult to injury, all at the expense of getting SH to gurgle-up his feelings. Yes, "gurgle-up", because SH actually didn't willingly show his emotions, he was FORCED to.

What a missed opportunity. They could've woken up together, shared an earnest moment, and talked about the rest over breakfast. UGH.
(There should be a peer-review system for drama scripts, seriously.)

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"but then YOU LET HIM WAKE UP ALONE?!! After you said you loved him?"

YES I was shouting at my screen too!! Gaaah

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Hmm? I liked it the way it was in the drama though. Because people don't all wake up at the same time. And he'd be shocked either way at her appearance, whether next to him on the bed or outside at the washline. If she were still in bed he'd probably think he's still sleeping. So what if his heart was bleeding. It was bleeding because she wasn't there but now she is, for always. She just stepped out a bit.

I'm not quite sure SeHee was forced to show his emotions. I mean, he could have left the house before his flare up. In the end, he just showed his emotions just because... he can now.

I dunno. That's just me.

I don't know if I'm just daft, but I didn't see the self-righteousness in JiHo at breakfast. I quite like that she was just acting normal and not coddling him. Huh. Same scenes different interpretations.

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Love your revised morning-after. (And thumbs up to the peer-review for dramas. Definitely needed, especially in finale week, where the majority of drama writers seem to lose their cool)

My reaction was like Se-hee's while they were eating breakfast. How can you be happily eating that crab when you've disappeared for two months?!?!

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I agree with PeepsLeAwesomePotato (wow... your name...). I am content with the wake up scene. Waking up together in the same bed will be cliche and just another version of the previous dream scene.
But we all have expectations about how these two will act at the reunite scene. Especially SeHee.
I too, at first hoping the same thing, that he will wake up and see her sleeping, or smiling, or even snoring. Hahahaha... But as I said before, now I am so content.

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Yes, Ji Ho behaving that way at breakfast really shows she was manipulating Se Hee - despite how raw and painful his feelings were, how she witnessed exactly how wrecked he was the previous evening, she disingenuously said "Oh, you want me to leave? I'll leave then" to get what she wanted from him. Ugh.

And the rest of the finale was showing her dominance over him, since he was in the weaker position of having revealed exactly how much he needed her. (She never revealed how much she needed him to him.) Example: 1) when she got mad that he'd met with his ex, he meekly offered to change his phone number to appease her. 2) The scene of him hand-feeding her ginseng while she worked (we never saw her doing similar for him). 3) Her sitting in the PPL massage chair like a queen sitting on a throne while he doted on her.

I just feel like she was downright abusive to him. It's possible, as some Beanies say, that she didn't mean to manipulate him at first by leaving and was just doing her own thing. But what about after she found out he was nearly destroyed by losing her, and then chose to manipulate him with the threat of leaving again?

So much for the equality-contract-writing: what we were shown was that she was the boss of their relationship.

In fact, all 3 of the women had the upper hand in their relationships at the end. I had a problem with that, tbh: wish fulfillment is one thing, but it's so uneven it bothers me.

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I am putting on my rose tinted but ever so critical glasses for the breakfast scene. Ha ha!

The critical point was the night before when sleepy SH confesses his feelings for JH. At that point the sly minx JH comes to the forefront. Nothing was going to chase her away from her man (now she heard the words).

There was always a bit of asymmetry in their knowledge. SH was pretty certain that JH loved him (she accepted his kiss and his invitation to sleep together) and by coming back (that morning) SH pretty much knew he had her back too so he began his hurt puppy SH role.

Analysis of the "fan service" / sexual foreplay for breakfast scenes:

1) She was hanging out the laundry (for goodness sakes) - not a sign of someone who was going to leave anytime soon.
2) She doesn't have the chin down posture. She is casually licking her fingers and saying "so you want me to leave?" - both of them knowing full well what SH had said the night before. Minx!
3) His mock outburst..."how could you do this to me?". Starting his puppy dog routine.
4) She asks to hug him. He says "no!". But his body language says exactly the opposite. Rather than moving away towards the door - he goes inward to the bed and sits (ie. takes an inferior position). She repeats and he literally shuffles down the bed ("shiro!") He's really playing cute little puppy.
4) Finally puppy turns into a wolf and pounces... "so you wanna play?". End of foreplay.
5) Cut to clothes flying in the breeze...

All the ginseng feeding/massage scenes - ha ha! JH paying back SH for treating her like a tenant/maid - making her clean house, feed cat and take out the recycling. PAYBACK!!!

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@tummy,

Thank you! Now I get it. ;-)

I really didn't understand what all the huhu was over her eating the doggone spicy crab. Geez.

Sometimes I feel so dense. -- Then again, it may have been the subtitles. ;-)

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But JH WAS a tenant, and the chores were what she contractually agreed to in exchange for a really low rent.

I agree that they needed a reset: for a healthy relationship, Se Hee had too much power because it was his house when she had no place else (she was willing) to go. Also things had the potential to be so confusing and ambiguous in Se Hee's house: tenant/landlord? Fake marriage? Real marriage? Dating?

But I don't believe payback or tit-for-tat is a healthy way for a relationship to function.

I think they should have been equals in the relationship in the end, not for their positions to be reversed in terms of power and then some (after all, Ji Ho always took things a step farther than the situation warranted).

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@Jamie Opso

Two points (one perhaps slightly more serious than the other)

1) Everything after the climactic part was "fan service". The writer is making pretty bows, wrapping up the "happily ever after" part of the drama... kinda think there was no more "message" there.

2) The serious point. Even if there were a contractual agreement, once you knew that you and the other party had begun a serious emotional bond - I think insisting on fulfilling the terms would be rather boorish, at best. Legal, no doubt, but rather unseemly, don't you think?

On a lighter side: most of the previous comment was tongue-in-cheek...

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@tummy, thanks for your reply.

I do think their relationship was confusing, and that they needed a reset.

Fan service, though, may not have been intended to have a serious meaning - may have meant to tie things up in a pretty and fluffy bow - but HAD a meaning nonetheless.

Imagine if the show had ended with the 3 men of the couples getting everything they originally wanted from their relationships: Won Seok still with Ho Rang but unmarried and no children; SG managing to domesticate Su Ji to a more conventional lifestyle/marriage; and Se Hee still dictating the terms of emotional engagement and boundaries with Ji Ho. That wouldn't feel satisfactory at all, and neither does this fan service ending where the women get it all.

Anyway, there were many things I loved about this show, but Ji Ho's unilateralism in a relationship was not one of them.

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I liked the way the finale unfolded. I still think it was cruel of Ji Ho to leave Se Hee the way she did, but I understood her motives a little better at the end. I think this is one of the most straight-up feminist dramas I've ever watched. I loved how Ji Ho and Se Hee negotiated their relationship at the end. My husband and I have a similar arrangement these days, after 20 years together. Each of us takes care of our own family obligations without burdening the other person, and I think it has worked pretty well for us. Korean family obligations are a huge source of stress for women in Korea. (I've always thought that all the women who come to the US, ostensibly for their kids' education, may also be trying to escape some of that burden.)

It was also awesome to see Su Ji's final arc, getting revenge on the man who harassed her and founding her own company. I loved that it was Su Ji herself, and not her boyfriend, who punched the asshole. It was good to watch this drama at the same time all the post-Weinstein stories are coming out in American media.

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It was soooooo satisfying to watch Su Ji punch him right in the face! 😋

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Easily one of my favorites of 2017<333

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No reason to look forward to Mondays now :(( Watching this drama has been amazing experience, I'm not ready to let these characters go.

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And Se hee's "Ji ho-ya" at the end!!! Ugh dead

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This was my perfect drama. Congrats to all those involved with its creation, and thank you for the excellent recaps and commentary.

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THIS DRAMA WAS FUCKING PERFECT!!!
I will never forget about it <3

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Thank you so much for the recap, @murasakimi and @lovepark. I looked forward for the recaps as much as I did the show! I have nothing but appreciation for this show. Someone finally gave me a satisfying ending and for that I am greatful. Lee Min Ki totally blew me away these last two episodes. I was so impressed how he breathed life into his character and showed us more depth of emotion and understanding of Se-Hee than I ever thought possible. I won’t say much more, I’ll just be nodding in agreement with everyone’s comments. Thank you, Beanies for making this one of my favorite recaps to go with an amazingly well-rounded drama! Special mention to @Tom who needs to register so I can find more of his expert cinematic deconstructions. But no pressure! Until next drama...

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Horang and Won seok have probably been one of the most controversial arcs of the show, and this is probably an unpopular opinion, but I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out for them and how the evolution of their relationship played out. If I was writing I would have ended their arc at episode 15, where Horang told WS she was glad to have spent the best part of her life with him and asking to stay a part of her life. I wouldn't have had HR end up with the accountant, or WS with Bomi (I love BM, but not as a love interest for WS); I'd have left their futures open to any possibilities. That said, I do think the ending works for them. It feels true to their characters and not unlikely in the real world where flawed, sometimes slightly dysfunctional relationships are the norm.

We're introduced to them as a couple that fights, breaks up, and gets back together A LOT. As the story goes on we learn figure out that it's because they really can't communicate with each other so they fight, but neither really wants to live without the other.

Horang at first comes across as really selfish and immature. She got a lot of flack for expecting WS to read her mind, for not allowing him to discuss his interests, for being so set on marriage despite the sacrifices WS would have to make, for her comments about "shaping" WS to a boyfriend and husband, and for basing her worth and tying her happiness to marriage and family. We slowly gained more sympathy for her as we learn more about their past relationship, see glimpses of the underlying love she has for WS, and

At first WS gained all the sympathy for sticking with an immature girlfriend who constantly breaks up with him, who doesn't care about his interests, and expects him to know what she's thinking about their future without saying it. Over time it becomes more apparent that maybe he wasn't (or shouldn't have been) as clueless about her desire for marriage after all, and we become more aware the ways he may treat HR unfairly- by allowing her to support him indefinitely with no real commitment, by going back on promises to save for the future without notice, and his history of making little comments demeaning her intelligence or speaking in a manner he knew she couldn't understand (and hated).

All in all, neither were being very good and understanding partners to the other. They both put themselves first and refused to compromise. Neither was willing to begin difficult conversations. Thus they broke up. A lot of the commentariat think this is where it should have ended, but based on where we found them at the beginning it does make sense to me that they ultimately got back together.

They love each other, and there are a lot of little moments that show the love is real. We see it in how WS reacts to HR crying and comforts her. We see it in HR's reaction when WS tells her his app was belittled. We see it in Wonseok's reaction when he realizes that HR might find greater happiness...

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We see it in Wonseok's reaction when he realizes that HR might find greater happiness without him than she can with him. We see it when HR declares that she wanted to get married now because she'd be marrying WS, not because she wanted to be married (say what you will, I believe her because I can't imagine her staying and supporting an unsuccessful app developer for 7 years if she didn't love and want to marry HIM specifically, plus she was not excited at the aspect of marrying the compatible, eager-to-wed, reasonably successful accountant).

During their separation they, once again, came to the conclusion that they wanted to spend their lives together more than they wanted their own way, so they got back together and compromised-- we finally see them having an actual conversation about what would make marriage workable for them and their situation. We don't know exactly what said compromise and 5-year marriage plan looks likes (besides living with WS's parents), but it's obvious from the end that they did figure it out. They probably still are, but that's just how those two operate. I think we all know a couple that fights a lot but simply can't stay away from each other.

Is their relationship the most healthy? Probably not. But no one has a perfect relationship, and it's not exactly toxic, either. They'll continue to get better at communication and compromise day-by-day. Are they the most "compatible" partners for each other? No, but apparently they value the excitement of loving someone so different from themselves more than they'd value a partner who "gets" them. They both had a chance for that, neither took it.

I've heard a few people comment on how HR and WS have been a good foil for JH and SH, and I have loved seeing how two different couples navigate love and marriage. All three couples got happy endings, but each ending (and marriage) is different because all people are different and thus, all successful relationships and marriages are different. This is what I've loved about BTLIOF. It's a case study of how different people find happiness and satisfaction in life. All the characters, including all the second leads and side characters, are all so well-fleshed out and consistent throughout the series. Everyone seemed like a real person, with real flaws and believable personalities, and I truly enjoyed watching everyone's stories.

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And finally some notes on Horang and Wonseok as individuals.

I am one of Horang's biggest cheerleaders. Maybe it's because I grew up in a conservative environment where women were encouraged to embrace being a wife and mother as the highest honor and most noble profession. I know a lot of women who married early, do not have large career aspirations, and some who lived their lives in near sole preparation for a marriage and children that never came. It's not the path I've lived, and while my family and close friends are completely supportive of the life I have instead, there are times I feel I must fall short somewhere because I haven't been able to follow what was presented to me as the "ideal" lifestyle. Most days I love my career and find great satisfaction in the work I do, but it doesn't negate the fact that I want a family but have been unsuccessful at creating one, so I very much feel for Horang, who probably feels 10x the pain I do.

I get how frustrated and heartbroken she must be, and I just can't disparage her for making home and family her focus and priority. I can't fault her for not having great career ambitions or for looking for her worth in being a wife and mother. It frustrates me to no end to hear comments saying that she needs to find value outside these goals, because I think she already does see that she (and other women) can be valuable in ways outside the home, but that's not what she wants for herself. We meet HR at one of the lowest points of her life, when she sees a lifelong dream slipping from her grasp while others around her easily achieve it, and that likely impacts how she feels about herself and life right now. Let her mourn that her life isn't going how she'd planned! I have faith that Horang would ultimately have figured out how to live a happy, satisfying life even if her break with WS was permanent, and even if she never married at all. That's not what she wanted, though, so I'm glad she got her dream in the end.

And Wonseok, oh I just adore him. As HR's cheerleader I adamantly defended her in the comments, especially in earlier episodes where she was getting what I saw as more than her share of blame and ridicule, but I have loved WS from the beginning. He is a sweetheart, he is brilliant, hard working, and giving, he is a puppy I want to snuggle and pet, and HR is so, so lucky to have him. Ever since the first hints of a Wonseok and Bomi pairing I have loathed the idea, even though I love them both. It took a while to figure out why, and it's because I truly don't know that WS would have ever gotten over HR, even if that's what would have been best for him. This is the reason I'm glad the couple worked out.

People often say that in every relationship there is one person that loves more. I'm not sure that's always true, but in the case of Horang and Wonseok it's definitely WS. I don't doubt that HR loves WS in return, but there are simply some people in this world with a...

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I don't doubt that HR loves WS in return, but there are simply some people in this world with a greater capacity for love and WS is one of those people. Because his capacity for love is greater, his willingness to give and sacrifice for it is also greater and, for better or worse, he gave his heart to HR. It's beautiful and a little unfair for him, but that's why the relationship is able to work.

From the beginning it's been obvious that WS is stupidly in love with HR. He might not always know what she wants, but he always wants to give it to her, whether it be a couch, a ring, perilla seed-free hangover soup, or a wedding he's not sure he's ready for. He didn't want to marry yet because he didn't think he was capable of providing the type of life he wanted HR to have. He broke up with her not because of anything he wanted, but because he thought she would finder greater happiness without him than she could with him. While both had to compromise to make their relationship and marriage possible, he ended up sacrificing more-- the largest sacrifice, of course, being his dream of developing his own app. I do hope that HR gives him the time to keep working on his own projects and will allow him to try to strike out on his own again when they're more financially stable, but for now he set aside his personal dream to make their shared dream a reality. His love for HR and his dream of happiness for her and a life together is greater than his personal dream, and that's beautiful. He's beautiful.

Whenever Wonseok cradles Horang's cheeks and wipes her tears (and he does that a lot) I thank Writer-nim for including such a character in her story and God for creating and allowing the world to have people like him.

Phew, sorry for the novel!!

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I have mixed feelings about Won-seok and Ho-rang's ending. I felt like their getting back together was the most surprising and fantastical aspect of the drama. It's not just about specific compromises, the two of them just have very different attitudes about life. Ho-rang craves a very typical nuclear family structure and has been saving for it since day one and Wo-seok is someone who feels suffocated putting on a tie. Their love runs deep and their lives are intertwined but their differences are irreconcilable. They've grown up together and grown apart, or from "lovers to old friends" as Ho-rang so aptly puts it.

/i/That being said though,/i/ I'm not mad at their ending. How many times have we seen couples like Ho-rang and Wo-seok who have been together for years not make it in real life? While their break up rang true to me, I'm also glad that at least within the realms of this drama their obstacles are surmountable and love conquers all.

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Wow, this is an interesting take on Wonseok. I had been so frustrated with him that I had forgotten that he had good qualities that would make Horang fall in love with him.

I thought HR and WS getting back together and deciding on a 5 year plan was a nice surprise. It's a vision of them working things through together, understanding that both parties in teh relationship will make sacrifices and compromises in the name of love. However, I do think it happened sort of fast?

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I agree with everything you said (so eloquently too, thank you!) except...I don't quite get why he was so opposed to marriage. IMHO, he was already an old married man and we know he was, is, deeply in love with her. How different would married life have been (assuming children don't come too soon?)

However, I do like the way they got back together. WonSeok finally gets to go a night club and live it up. It's not so great. The perfect girl (for him) is his for the taking...yet they really aren't all that compatible, strangely enough. The heart wants what it wants. I particularly loved his mac v windows comparison.

I don't think HR will be a burden to him or suffocate him or keep him from realizing his dream. She IS his dream; he just didn't fully realize it yet. And she could very well be the making of him.

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He was opposed to marriage because Ho Rang didn’t just want the legitimacy and social tag of marriage. She wanted the ‘nice house in a good neighbourhood’ and kids to go with it which he felt he couldn’t provide at the time because he was busy following his dream of making his app successful. Any business takes a couple of years to take off so he didn’t think he would be able to be financially stable enough to provide Ho Rang what she wanted from the marriage; especially since she never intended to continue working after getting married either.

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Aahhh i want to agree with you on that point you made about Ho Rang wanting marriage for HERSELF!! I really didn't feel like she saw herself as worthless without a husband and family or that she was created to be only a wife and mother, but this was something she so desperately craved for and tried hard to achieve...the inly thing was that her and WonSeok weren't on the same temperature. That was the way I saw HoRang's ambition.

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