Clean With Passion for Now: Episode 16 (Final)
In spite of his challenges, our CEO found the girl of his dreams, only to have a cruel twist of fate turn their romance into a nightmare. Finding himself at a crossroads, Seon-gyeol makes a bold decision that helps to lessen Oh-sol’s burden. Since time can heal and change hearts, the destiny of Seon-gyeol and Oh-sol finally becomes clear as the the Cleaning Fairy family faces the future.
EPISODE 16 (Final): “Love with passion for now”
Unable to take her hand before they part, Seon-gyeol watches Oh-sol walk away after she wishes him well.
Seon-gyeol clears out his desk and when Secretary Kwon approaches, he assures her that there’s no reason for her to resign as well. In reply, Secretary Kwon tells Seon-gyeol that he needs to know something about his grandfather, and a flashback shows that she met Chairman Cha at an OCD lecture where they discussed her son and his grandson.
Following Geum-ja’s death, a worried Chairman Cha recruited Secretary Kwon, hoping that her experience with OCD could help his grandson. Secretary Kwon explains that without Seon-eyol, there’s no reason for her to stay at Cleaning Fairy.
Dong-hyun, Jae-min and Yeong-shik forlornly follow Seon-gyeol out of Cleaning Fairy. Seon-gyeol faces the team and asks Dong-hyun to keep him updated on his grandmother. He wishes Jae-min luck with his acting career and thanks Yeong-shik for teaching him how to enjoy hard work and then Seon-gyeol walks away from his company.
Over dinner, Oh-dol informs his family and Mr. Choi that he’s decided join a professional taekwondo team. Oh-dol then returns his prized pin to Joo-yoen with a promise, “Hold onto it again until I win a gold medal…I won’t be an idiot anymore.” When she agrees, Oh-dol sweeps Joo-yeon into a hug.
Seon-gyeol returns to the market where the 5th place card came from and is recognized by the boy who lost his tooth. Seon-gyeol asks the boy about the card and he exclaims, “…Oh, it’s…’One more time’. It gives you a chance to try one more time. It’s an awesome thing to have.”
Mr. Choi visits Chairman Cha in an official capacity, to determine how he’s handling his terminal diagnosis, and is asked why he didn’t alert the media about the Chairman’s condition. The doctor confesses that he was never serious about the threat and when Chairman Cha guesses that Mr. Choi is another victim of the redevelopment accident, he explains, “I was actually one of the assailants.” In a flashback to the day of the accident, we see that Mr. Choi held back protestors while Oh-sol’s mother was loaded onto an ambulance.
Mr. Choi describes Chairman Cha as a masochistic perfectionist, determined to protect everything that belonged to him, including his family and company. Chairman Cha says nothing when Mr. Choi asks, “But what did you manage to maintain?” After he leaves his patient, Mr. Choi runs into Seon-gyeol, who asks a favor of the doctor.
The next morning, Oh-sol tries to rouse Oh-dol out of bed and learns about his crush on Joo-yeon thanks to a partially written love letter on his desk. After Oh-dol escapes to the bathroom, Mr. Choi approaches Oh-sol for a private talk.
In his apartment, Seon-gyeol takes one last look around his house and remembers his time with Oh-sol before walking out. At the same time, Mr. Choi hands Oh-sol the necklace that Seon-gyeol planned to give her and tells her that there’s still time to say goodbye before he leaves for the States.
Chairman Cha’s assistant apologizes when his car is forced to stop at the site of the accident. Chairman Cha sees a memorial for the victims, which triggers memories of both Seon-gyeol and Oh-sol blaming him for the deaths, and he orders his car turned around.
Oh-sol is in her room staring at Seon-gyeol’s gift when the doorbell rings. Soon, Oh-sol and Oh-dol are in the living room as their father sits across from Chairman Cha, who has something to say but confesses that he’s not sure how to go about it.
Chairman Cha stands up and bows deeply to Oh-sol’s father and then to his children and finally apologizes, “I know it’s too late for an apology. I am really sorry.” Weeping, Oh-sol’s father tells Chairman Cha, “That’s enough,” and leaves the room.
Oh-sol meets with Chairman Cha on the roof and acknowledges how hard it must have been for him to apologize. She explains that it will be just as hard for her family to forgive him and that they need time. Oh-sol promises to remember what Chairman Cha did before she says goodbye.
When Oh-sol turns away, Chairman Cha speaks up, “You were right. I was the one who should have regrets and suffer. This old man’s greed has caused you too much pain. I hurt both you and Seon-gyeol too much.” Oh-sol can still hear Chairman Cha’s words when she returns to her room and at the sight of Seon-gyeol’s gift, she grabs her coat.
Seon-gyeol sits at the airport atop a handkerchief and clutches his ticket to the States with his gloved hands. Seon-gyeol stands up just as Oh-sol’s taxi drops her off at the airport and after checking the departure schedule, Oh-sol runs for Seon-gyeol’s gate.
Seon-gyeol turns around expectantly and then walks towards his gate while Oh-sol runs through the airport. Oh-sol never catches up to Seon-gyeol and she stands in the airport and cries when she realizes that he’s gone.
Chairman Cha holds a press conference to finally take public responsibility for the redevelopment tragedy. He also announces his resignation from AG Group and his intention to donate his personal assets to charity.
As Oh-sol rides a bus, she explains, “Nobody is talking about that person. I don’t dare to utter that name as well. As time passes by, the memories of him that filled my heart become smaller.”
The next time Oh-sol visits her mother, she’s runs into her former cleaning crew and learns that Seon-gyeol assigned them to clean her mother’s area. Oh-sol approaches her mother’s resting place and when she imagines Seon-gyeol cleaning it, tears spill from her eyes as she admits to herself, “But sometimes, very seldom, I miss you.”
Two years later, a disheveled, smelly, drunk weaves through the airport with a bottle of soju and slams into Seon-gyeol, who doesn’t hesitate to help the man to his feet. When he exits the terminal, Seon-gyeol answers a call from his mother and breathes in the air.
A polished looking Oh-sol handles a business call on her way to work at a sports agency, where it’s obvious that she’s capable and well liked. At the end of her day, Oh-sol calls her father and offers to pick up dinner on the way home just as it begins to snow. Seon-gyeol looks out at the falling snow just as his taxi drives past Oh-sol. As she walks across the street, Oh-sol slips but someone catches her. Oh-sol is speechless at the sight of Seon-gyeol, who smiles and says, “It’s been a long time, Ms. Gil.”
They visit a cafe, where Oh-sol learns that Seon-gyeol just returned from the States. When Oh-sol sees that the skin on his hands looks normal, she asks how he’s doing and Seon-gyeol admits that he’s much better.
Seon-gyeol finds the courage to apologize for his grandfather’s part in her mother’s death and her brother’s troubles. Seon-gyeol regrets that he didn’t apologize before he left, but explains that he couldn’t face Oh-sol because his feelings for her only caused her pain.
It’s Oh-sol’s turn to apologize, because she has to leave, but when she stands up, Seon-gyeol pulls out the 5th place card and asks, “If this is still valid, I’d like us to start over. You and I, from the beginning. I want another chance.”
When Mr. Choi finds Oh-sol staring at the card, he guesses that the machine is back, but she explains that Seon-gyeol is the one who’s back. Oh-sol reports that Seon-gyeol’s condition is much improved and after a brief pause, Mr. Choi smiles, “He’s back. That’s great.”
Mae-hwa runs to Seon-gyeol when he enters her boutique and everyone is surprised when he thanks her boyfriend and her assistant for taking care of his mother in his absence. When Seon-gyeol tells Chairman Yang, “I think I can trust you with my mother,” the man starts to cry, but after Seon-gyeol places his mother’s hand into Chairman Yang’s, everyone laughs happily.
Seon-gyeol exits his car at his grandfather’s house where a young boy informs him that he just stepped in bird poop. He figures out that the boy is Secretary Kwon’s son and after a brief reunion with his former assistant, Seon-gyeol asks Secretary Kwon where he can find his grandfather.
His assistant pushes his wheelchair through the garden, where Chairman Cha notices some early blooms. He smiles at the thought of another spring and when he looks up and sees Seon-gyeol, Chairman Cha lifts his arms in welcome.
Chairman Cha and his grandson sit in the garden and the old man shares, “They say that you gain a lot more from letting go. That saying is so true.” Seon-gyeol heard that his grandfather hired management specialists to run AG Group and donated all of his assets. Chairman Cha confesses that he didn’t expect to see his grandson again and when Seon-gyeol grasps his grandfather’s hand, the old man smiles gratefully.
At work, Oh-sol gets a text from Seon-gyeol, “Can we meet up briefly today? I’ll be in the area.” Suddenly, there are murmurs about a handsome man and when Oh-sol investigates, she’s shocked to see Seon-gyeol washing windows outside.
Embarrassed when Seon-gyeol winks at her and uses their signature “heart” move on the windows, Oh-sol walks away. She turns around at the sound of gasps in time to see Seon-gyeol disappear from sight. Oh-sol runs to the street as Seon-gyeol safely untangles himself from his ropes and he’s thrilled by her show of concern. Seon-gyeol suggests dinner and offers to wait when Oh-sol tells him that she has to work late.
When they finally sit down to eat, Oh-sol gently explains to Seon-gyeol, “The time is up. You can’t exchange the fifth-place prize anymore.” She tells him that it’s been a year since the machine that dispensed it broke and two years since they broke up. Oh-sol apologizes that Seon-gyeol waited so long only to be disappointed but when she stands to leave, he notices the swan necklace around her neck. Seon-gyeol follows Oh-sol outside, “It’s like a dream to be in front of you like this…I won’t rush you to like me…I’ll wait for you to make up your mind.”
Mr. Choi meets with his patients, who are all doing much better. The fortune teller presents Mr. Choi with a parting gift from the three of them, two tickets to an ice rink, and then they commemorate their last counseling session with a photo. Once he’s home, Mr. Choi reads an offer to join the faculty at Rochester and looks at the tickets in his hand.
Oh-dol has a taekwondo competition and when it looks as if his opponent is getting the upper hand, Joo-yeon yells from the stands, “Oh-dol, pull yourself together, will you?” Invigorated, Oh-dol wins his match and he cheers as Joo-yeon nods proudly.
Oh-sol’s father watches the match on TV with his security guard friend, who congratulates him because Oh-dol just made the national team. Her father brags that he’ll accompany Oh-dol to the Olympics and when he returns to wash a car, he wonders why it’s so clean.
Seon-gyeol pops up and greets him, “Hello, Father. How have you been? I’m sorry I couldn’t come earlier.” When Seon-gyeol explains that he wants to work with Oh-sol’s father from now on, he’s told to leave. After Seon-gyeol admits that it’s shameless to ask for forgiveness, Oh-sol’s father growls, “There is no need for an apology or forgiveness,” and stomps off angrily.
Oh-sol is in her room, thinking about Seon-gyeol when she’s interrupted by a phone call. Outside, Seon-gyeol looks at Oh-sol’s house and wishes that he could use magic to make her appear and after uttering, “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. Abracadabra. Hakuna-matata,” he’s surprised when she runs out.
Seon-gyeol stammers that he’s in the neighborhood to visit his friend from Minnesota and then asks Oh-sol if she’s going somewhere. Soon, Seon-gyeol is driving Oh-sol, who’s busy with calls about a client. When they get to a hospital, Oh-sol checks on her client’s condition and is able to report that he only suffered a minor injury when her boss arrives.
Relieved, Oh-sol’s boss looks up at Seon-gyeol and guesses that he’s her boyfriend. She corrects him, but her boss includes Seon-gyeol when he offers to treat Oh-sol to a meal. Before they follow him out, Oh-sol remembers to thank Seon-gyeol, who admiringly observes, “You have become an impressive person over the last two years.”
Over dinner, Oh-sol’s boss calls Seon-gyeol a “reliable boyfriend” and Oh-sol politely overlooks the comment. He’s taken a liking to Seon-gyeol and pours him drink after drink and by the time they leave the restaurant, Seon-gyeol is very drunk.
Oh-sol moves to get a taxi until Seon-gyeol grabs her and asks her to sit with him a little longer. After she sits down, Seon-gyeol confesses, “On the day we said goodbye, we didn’t even hold hands for the last time…That’s why I left for the U.S….I really tried so hard, and gave it my best.”
Seon-gyeol looks at Oh-sol and asks, “Can you compliment me at least once? I wish you could smile at me. Just once.” When Seon-gyeol’s eyes grow heavy, he drops his head onto Oh-sol’s shoulder and falls asleep. Oh-sol touches his face softly and whispers, “You did well.”
While Seon-gyeol sleeps, Oh-sol makes a confession of her own, “I was like that too. For two years, there wasn’t a single moment I forgot about you… I missed you so much.” Even though she knew that her family could never accept her feelings for Seon-gyeol, Oh-sol admits, “I missed you dearly…I said I wouldn’t do anything that I’d regret. But…There was nothing I could do.”
Seon-gyeol texts Oh-sol the next day and indulges in a fist pump when she replies, just as Mr. Choi walks in. Embarrassed, Seon-gyeol scolds him for barging in unannounced but Mr. Choi reminds him that he voluntarily looked after his place in his absence. Seon-gyeol thanks him for also checking on him while he was in the U.S. and promises to repay Mr. Choi for everything that he’s done.
Mr. Choi asks, “How are things with Oh-sol,” and Seon-gyeol can’t hide his smile. Seon-gyeol cringes at the “American” way Mr. Choi expresses his feelings, “I wish the two of you happiness. Both you and Oh-sol mean a lot to me.” However, when Mr. Choi opens his arms for an American-style greeting, Seon-gyeol agrees and is surprised when the doctor jumps into his arms.
Later, Mr. Choi smiles at Oh-sol as she skates smoothly towards him. It must be his first time on ice skates because Oh-sol shouts, “Falling on the ice won’t kill you. Just give it a shot!” After he gamely tries and keeps falling, Oh-sol asks why Mr. Choi would want to meet at an ice rink when he can’t skate.
When Oh-sol extends her hand to help him stand up, Mr. Choi gazes at her smiling face and confesses, “If you didn’t reach your hand out to me back then, I wouldn’t be where I am now…Thanks for everything, and I’ll continue to be grateful.” Mr. Choi stands up without Oh-sol’s help and then takes in her happy face as he skates beside her.
The next day Oh-sol calls Mr. Choi for breakfast but his rooms are empty, except for one last yogurt and a sketch of the plant that he gave her. In a wavering voice, Oh-sol breathes, “This isn’t fair,” and in voiceover, she explains, “Just like that, he brought me solace once again and left.”
Yeong-shik lectures a young class of taekwondo students when a deliveryman arrives with a package — Dong-hyun! At a restaurant, they watch Jae-min get slapped in a drama on television just as he walks in, decked out in sunglasses. When Yeong-shik asks Dong-hyun why he called them together, Seon-gyeol shows up and answers, “I summoned you guys.”
Seon-gyeol shares a meal with the cleaning team, who are surprised when their former CEO licks his fingers. When Jae-min asks about the purpose of their meeting, Seon-gyeol passes out a business plan and asks, “Would you like to join me?”
Don-hyun and Yeong-shik readily agree but Jae-min hesitates because of his thriving acting career. Jae-min promises to promote the business just as Secretary Kwon walks in to ask if she can work with them again. When Seon-gyeol invites Secretary Kwon to sit down, it looks as if he has everyone he needs for a fresh start.
They get started right away when Secretary Kwon accompanies Seon-gyeol to purchase needed equipment. Dong-hyun, Yeong-shik and Jae-min join them at a modest building that will serve as the new office and in the following days, everyone works hard at cleaning and painting.
Oh-sol’s father finishes washing a car and announces, “Let’s call it a day…Aren’t you going to eat? I’m starving,” and then barks at Seon-gyeol, “Get the tools!” Over what looks like their first meal together, Oh-sol’s father brings up Seon-gyeol’s plans to start a new cleaning company and wonders why he has to continue in that field. Seon-gyeol brightly explains, “I still believe in it…I love seeing smiles on people’s faces after cleaning…Also, cleaning is what I’m best at.”
Oh-sol’s father confesses that Seon-gyeol’s cleaning efforts at his wife’s resting place comforted him, so he understands what Seon-gyeol is talking about. Oh-sol’s father looks troubled when he brings up Oh-sol and admits, “I always feel sorry for my dear girl.”
Oh-sol and her brother join their father to visit to their mother, something they don’t usually do. Oh-dol proudly shows off his national team jacket before his father asks for some privacy. Once he’s alone, Oh-sol’s father tearfully tells his wife, “I think I’ll forgive them now,” and explains the reason for his change of heart, “I want Oh-sol to be loved by someone she loves. I don’t want her to have any regrets…Don’t you agree?”
When Oh-sol’s father rejoins his children, he tells Oh-sol, “He’s waited long enough.” At her puzzled expression, Oh-sol’s father explains, “I’m talking about Seon-gyeol. I think he’s a nice guy,” and Oh-dol nods in agreement. When he tells his daughter, “Go to him,” Oh-sol promises not to see Seon-gyeol again. She comes to her senses when her father offers to take back his permission and after Oh-dol urges, “Go. Don’t make him wait any longer,” Oh-sol eagerly runs away.
Oh-sol surprises Seon-gyeol at his new company while he’s taking out the trash. She throws her arms around his neck and proposes, “Let’s start over. Let’s go back to the beginning,” and a tear escapes when Oh-sol pulls Seon-gyeol into a kiss. A light snow starts to fall as Seon-gyeol’s hands find Oh-sol’s waist and when he pulls her closer, they kiss…and kiss…and kiss some more…
The old team stares up as Jae-min laughs, “What is up with the company’s name?” Dong-hyun insists that he likes it and Yeong-shik gives Seon-gyeol a thumbs up when he arrives with his arm around Oh-sol. Secretary Kwon completes the team as they look up at the new company’s sign, and then we hear the name when Seon-gyeol faces the camera to read, “Clean,” while Oh-sol adds, “With Passion,” and then everyone yells together, “For Now,” and jump into the air.
I appreciate how much effort was made to tie up loose ends and give all of the characters a happy ending. Was it enough to make up for the major detour into melodrama land? Not for me. That brutal breakup did too much damage for me to cheer for Oh-sol, even though I wanted Seon-gyeol to find happiness, which of course included having her back in his life. From that perspective, this final episode was the happy ending that I’d hoped for, but somehow, I wasn’t quite satisfied.
The time jump helped bring together older and wiser characters who were able to overcome their long-held resentments, specifically, Oh-sol’s father and brother and Seon-gyeol’s grandfather. There was lots of healing in both families, and I was especially thankful to see a calmer, level-headed Oh-dol, who was finally self-assured enough to encourage his sister to live her own life. It was about time. It was hard to watch Seon-gyeol chip away at Oh-sol’s continued rejection and her father’s simmering grudge, but he did it so happily and willingly that I couldn’t help but root for his success.
I have to admit, I just loved seeing the recovered Seon-gyeol interact with all of the people who experienced his mysophobia at its worst. I got a lump in my throat whenever Seon-gyeol sat in a restaurant and ate like an “ordinary” person. That was his goal and Seon-gyeol managed to overcome his mysophobia with some intense therapy, and he admitted as much to Oh-sol. The new Seon-gyeol was so much looser and confident and it was fun to watch his scenes with his old friends.
What I can never understand with most time jumps is why there seems to be zero communication during the separation. That makes no sense in this day and age, but when Seon-gyeol finally returned home, his mother scolded him for leaving without a word and it was clear that he hadn’t communicated with anyone in all that time. In a world where it’s almost impossible to be out of reach, that plot point alway has me scratching my head.
As much as I loved Seon-geyol throughout the drama, I had a serious case of second-lead syndrome thanks to Mr. Choi. Oh-sol’s harsh breakup with Seon-gyeol cured me of that, because I no longer considered her worthy enough to end up with either Seon-gyeol or Mr. Choi. What made Mr. Choi such a memorable character was the challenge that he faced as his professional and personal lives collided. As a doctor, he wanted to help Seon-gyeol to become emotionally stronger and healthier, but as a man, he wanted Oh-sol for himself. It seriously broke my heart when Mr. Choi thanked Oh-sol for taking his hand all those years ago during their “date” at the ice rink. It was a bittersweet final meeting as Mr. Choi voluntarily took a step back so that the woman in his heart and his patient could find a clear path to happiness.
And find that path they did, and this drama surprised me one more time when Oh-sol finally accepted Seon-gyeol and marked the occasion with another marathon of passionate kisses. Most dramas don’t have a fraction of the kisses that Clean With Passion for Now delivered and I was sure that when Oh-sol and Seon-gyeol reunited, they would be more subdued. Boy, was I wrong. As much as this drama veered from my early expectations, I will remember it fondly, thanks to a lovable germaphobe, a hunky psychiatrist, and the passionate displays of affection between our fated couple.