Crash Landing on You: Episode 16 (Final)
Even the best stories must end, and in this case, that means that it’s time for everyone to go home and resume their lives. Unfortunately, returning home means separation for our lovers, when all they want is to be together. But they’ve always believed that if they try hard enough, fate will allow them to be together again someday.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
While rescuing Dan from her kidnappers, Seung-joon is shot. Dan runs to his side and he gasps that he’s okay, then passes out. He rouses while in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and a sobbing Dan says that she was going to give him a chance if and when he came back for her.
Seung-joon asks weakly what she meant that night when she said, “I like (it)” — the ramyun, or him? HA, at a time like this. Dan says that she meant him, and he whispers, “I knew it,” then his hand goes limp in Dan’s… he’s gone.
Meanwhile, Se-ri fights for her life in intensive care, having developed sepsis from the stress of visiting Jung-hyuk and being rejected. NIS Agent Kim can see that Jung-hyuk loves SY, so he allows Jung-hyuk to go to the hospital and see her, even if nobody is allowed in her room.
To her family’s horror, Se-ri flatlines, but thankfully the doctors are able to get her heart started again. Stepmom notices that Jung-hyuk is there again, and she asks Agent Kim to let him stay in case Se-ri takes another turn or wakes up looking for him.
The ducklings are still being treated well by the NIS, and are even allowed to eat meals together. Chi-soo brags that the NIS agents like him so much they’re practically scouting him, but he deflates when the others say they’ve all been asked if they want to stay, heh.
A week later, in North Korea, Director Ri sits down with the military director to discuss his plan to get Jung-hyuk and the ducklings home. He’s suggested trading them for some captured South Korean spies that were imprisoned without trial. The military director objects, so Director Ri reveals that the NIS sent him documents proving that the military director was in regular contact with Chul-kang and may have ordered him to kill Jung-hyuk.
The military director figures out that Director Ri is offering silence regarding his dealings with Chul-kang in trade for the military director keeping his mouth shut about the fact that Jung-hyuk betrayed his country because of a woman. He agrees, but he demands full control over the exchange of soldiers.
Once Se-ri is awake and recovering, Stepmom breaks the news that Jung-hyuk is being sent back to North Korea right away. Se-ri puts on a brave face and says it’s better that she not see him, because she’s already said goodbye to him so many times and she doesn’t want him to know she’s been so ill.
Stepmom tells Se-ri that Jung-hyuk was there while she was sick, and he never left her side for a moment. When she’d eventually regained consciousness, the expression of love on Jung-hyuk’s face was undeniable, but he’d backed off so she couldn’t see him.
It had looked like it killed him to walk away, but he’d voluntarily let Agent Kim take him back into custody. Stepmom hadn’t missed any of it, and she knows that Se-ri wants to see Jung-hyuk anyway. Se-ri bursts into tears and begs to be taken to Jung-hyuk.
In the bus on the way to the exchange location, the ducklings express their relief that Se-ri will be okay. They’re all feeling melancholy, and Jung-hyuk is particularly quiet and withdrawn. Agent Kim notices, and it seems to worry him.
Stepmom drives like a bat outta hell to get Se-ri to the exchange location in time. She even calls Agent Kim and asks him to stall for time and, shipper that he is, he agrees.
Eventually the guys reach the spot where the exchange will take place, and agents from both sides approach the demarcation line. Agent Kim tries to buy a few minutes until Se-ri can get there, but the North Koreans insist on getting this over with. The soldiers from both sides are allowed to cross the line, but as soon as Jung-hyuk steps back into his home country, Se-ri pulls up.
She jumps out of the car and calls his name as he and the ducklings are put in handcuffs. Se-ri runs towards Jung-hyuk, screaming that he can’t leave her like this, and Jung-hyuk’s first thought is for her health as he urges her to stop running. But she doesn’t stop, so before she crosses the line to him, Jung-hyuk breaks and runs to her, crossing the border back into South Korea to catch Se-ri in his arms.
Agents on both sides draw their weapons, but Jung-hyuk and Se-ri only see each other. Se-ri is terrified that Jung-hyuk and the ducklings are being handcuffed by their own people, but Jung-hyuk promises her that nothing bad is going to happen. He tells Se-ri that he’s grateful for the gift of having her in his life, and he apologizes for breaking her heart the other day.
Se-ri asks tearfully if they’ll ever see each other again. Jung-hyuk tells her to wait and pray, and that someday it will happen. He finally gets to say, “I love you,” and Se-ri returns his words, then Jung-hyuk is pulled back to his side of the border. He turns back for one last look, and the ducklings call out their goodbyes to Se-ri (Eun-dong even sends her finger-hearts, awww).
Director Ri gets the call that Jung-hyuk and the ducklings are back in North Korea and leaves to pick up Jung-hyuk and bring him home. But the military director has the guys driven out to an isolated spot in the middle of a forest and taken out of the vehicle, still handcuffed. Jung-hyuk demands to know why they’re not being taken to Pyongyang.
The military director says that they’ll be court-martialed and executed anyway, so it’s better they die here and save their families the trouble. Jung-hyuk says that he’s the only one who committed a crime, because his friends were in South Korea for the World Military Games. The military director chuckles evilly that his friends will keep him company in death, then his men raise their guns.
The next few moments happen very quickly — Man-bok throws himself in front of Jung-hyuk, but Jung-hyuk grabs him and whirls around as the ducklings surround them protectively. Shots ring out, but it’s the soldiers who are hit. More men run out of the forest, followed by Director Ri, who calmly approaches the military director (I literally screamed, “YES, DAD!!!”).
Director Ri gently chides the military director for trying to carry out an execution without a fair trial, because it risks killing innocent victims. He continues, “But it’s different when I witness someone trying to kill my son. You aren’t innocent.” The military director starts to draw his pistol, but Director Ri is ready with his own weapon, and he shoots the military director point-blank. Awesome.
Director Ri and Jung-hyuk head home, and Jung-hyuk apologizes for making his father worry. Director Ri says he’s just glad that Jung-hyuk is back alive, and he asks after Se-ri, but hearing her name makes Jung-hyuk cry. Jung-hyuk’s mother makes a huge fuss over him, and though it’s obvious he’s glad to be home, there’s still a deep sadness to Jung-hyuk’s expression.
Man-bok returns to the village, and the first thing he sees is Woo-pil — not being ostracized and bullied anymore, but playing happily with the other kids. Myung-sook fusses at Man-bok for not contacting her while he was gone, and they both cry openly, happy to be together again.
Things are very different for Dan, who grieves deeply for Seung-joon and won’t eat or get out of bed. She just wants to be left alone, but her mother lets her know that she and her uncle are there to help Dan through this. Dan decides to take them up on their offer, and tells them that what she wants is revenge.
The first thing they do is set up a meeting between Dan and CEO Jeon, who looks like he got quite a beating for letting Seung-joon go free. Dan wants information on anyone involved on the day that Seung-joon died, promising CEO Jeon that he won’t suffer any consequences for helping her because none of them will leave the country alive.
Back in South Korea, Se-hyung continues to blame Sang-ah for getting him in trouble by hiring the men to capture Seung-joon in the hopes of using him to discredit Se-ri. He’s also angry that she paid Chul-kang to kill Se-ri after he’d decided that was going too far.
She keeps quiet and pulls his phone from his pocket, seeing that he’s been recording their conversation. She says that she did it all for him, but Se-hyung yells that he’s lost everything and may end up in jail. Sang-ah reassures Se-hyung that she made sure everything was covered up.
Chairman Yoon calls them to his home, along with Se-ri, who’s been released from the hospital. Se-ri admits that she’s already been questioned by the NIS and will probably be prosecuted, and Sang-ah smirks with satisfaction. Chairman Yoon clarifies that because of the extenuating circumstances, Se-ri will likely come away with only a suspended sentence or a fine.
Se-ri tells Se-hyung that he and Sang-ah are facing up to ten years in prison for soliciting known criminals. She calls out to Agent Kim, who’s waiting in the hall with Manager Oh. Manager Oh is happy to reveal that CEO Jeon in North Korea has provided plenty of evidence against Se-hyung and Sang-ah.
Agent Kim arrests them for solicitation of kidnapping and murder, among other charges. Se-hyung makes a last-ditch appeal to his father, urging him to think of the company’s image, but Chairman Yoon snaps that he’s cutting the rotten parts of his family out — Se-hyung is on his own.
When Se-ri finally goes back to her home, she finds that before he left, Jung-hyuk fully stocked her kitchen with food. It makes Se-ri cry all over again, that he made such an effort to take care of her even after he’s gone. But the real surprise comes when she goes to bed and gets a text from Jung-hyuk, who had asked Agent Kim to show him how to send scheduled text messages.
His text says that he’s sending these messages because he still has so much to say to Se-ri, though he’s left his most important message on her bookshelf. Just like Se-ri did in his bedroom in North Korea, he’d rearranged her books so that the first character of each title spell out Yoon Se-ri, I love you.
The text messages from Jung-hyuk continue to come in at random times. He reminds Se-ri to eat, spend time with the people close to her, and enjoy life, while he does the same. They even go on walks at the same time, separate but still connected.
The ducklings are back to work at the DMZ, and they’ve been left strongly effected by their time in South Korea. They’ve picked up a lot of slang and feel the loss of things like french fries, internet, and hot running water, not to mention Se-ri herself.
Time passes and spring comes. Dan’s mother visits the village wives when she comes to town to help Dan move out of the apartment. She brings gifts of skincare products from a recent trip to Europe, and the ladies are shocked to see their own faces and names on the packaging.
Awww, they’re new products from Se-ri’s Choice, inspired by and named after each of the ladies who welcomed Se-ri into their lives. Dan’s mother says that she holds no bad feelings for Se-ri, now that she knows how warm-hearted and caring she is, and the ladies tear up, remembering their friend.
While packing up her apartment, Dan finds the blue jacket that Seung-joon wore on the one day they got to spend together. They’d gone for a drive, and Seung-joon had teased Dan out of her usual stoic expression by joking around and singing for her. Later Dan goes for a walk on the bridge where Seung-joon kissed her, where she lets herself cry for him one last time.
Dan’s mother visits Jung-hyuk’s mother to formally break off the engagement. She explains that Dan simply doesn’t want to marry Jung-hyuk anymore because she’s in love with someone else, and that the man, in turn, loves Dan even more than his own life. (sob)
Dan visits Jung-hyuk to end things in person, and while she’s at his house, she’s bombarded by memories of Seung-joon giving her the ring. She tells Jung-hyuk that she was there with Seung-joon while he was gone, and he asks after Seung-joon, who helped him a lot. Dan only tells him that Seung-joon went far away and will never be coming back.
Dan mentions the time she went to Switzerland to see Jung-hyuk, and how he’d focused more on taking pictures than being with her. She says she found that old, broken camera when she spent the night at his house, and she took it with her intending to throw it away.
Instead she had it repaired, and when she saw the pictures, she found the reason Jung-hyuk could barely look at her in Switzerland. Later, Jung-hyuk looks through the pictures and sees the one he took of Se-ri on the suspension bridge, and it makes him smile.
In the spring, Se-ri gets a scheduled text from Jung-hyuk that planting season has started, and a pot with seeds in it is delivered to her. Jung-hyuk’s text tells her how to care for the seeds and that she’ll find out what kind of plant they are when it grows. Se-ri complains that it’s high-maintenance, but she meticulously follows his directions, even speaking good words to the seeds (sold out, stock options, limited edition, and Ri Jung-hyuk, lol) like she once told him to do with his tomato plant.
The messages keep coming from Jung-hyuk, and they’re all so loving and encouraging that even Se-ri’s employees start to notice the positive changes in her. Se-ri feels like she’s still close to Jung-hyuk, even in seasons they’ve never spent together, because of the messages that come every few days.
On Se-ri’s birthday, one final text comes in from Jung-hyuk, since there’s a one-year limit on scheduled texts. He mentions her seeds, which have finally revealed themselves to be edelweiss. Jung-hyuk says he wants to meet in the country where edelweiss bloom, and that “If we both try our best, perhaps fate will be on our side.”
Up north in the village, the ladies are giddy about the fact that Jung-hyuk’s squad is returning from the front line today. They stock up and prepare his house like they always do, and get dressed up to welcome their handsome captain home.
Over dinner, Jung-hyuk breaks the news that he’s being discharged, and has been chosen as the new pianist for the National Symphony Orchestra. Aw, yay! He asks the ladies to be as caring towards the new captain as they’ve been with him, and they have to force their smiles for… Chi-soo. PWAHAHA.
With Se-hyung no longer around to fan the flames, Se-ri and her family are much closer these days. Technically Se-joon runs Queens Corp now, though he was smart enough to hire a professional manager and is mostly a figurehead who spends his days playing golf. Se-ri invites Se-joon to help her establish a scholarship foundation for disadvantaged children with musical talent, to send them to a prestigious music school in Switzerland.
Of course, a big part of the reason Se-ri is doing this is that she hopes Jung-hyuk will see a news article about the performances held in Switzerland by the students in the program, and will come find her. But every time she goes, she comes home disappointed, which makes Stepmom feel bad for her. Se-ri tells Stepmom that Jung-hyuk has always found her before, and that she’s sure he’ll find her this time, too.
Se-ri travels to Switzerland again, and this time she thinks for one amazing moment that she sees Jung-hyuk playing the piano in a town square. But it’s someone else, and she goes away dejected but determined not to give up on finding the love of her life again.
She decides to take a break and go paragliding, and she ends up landing awkwardly on a hillside. Se-ri hears a familiar voice say, “I don’t think your landing was that bad. I think you fell on the right spot. Actually, you didn’t fall — you descended.”
Se-ri comes out from under her parachute to see Jung-hyuk standing in front of her with a cheeky grin, and after a moment of shock, she launches herself at him. She sobs that she knew he’d find her and she asks how he got here. He quips that he got on the wrong train and that it brought him to the right destination, then he kisses her.
Dan’s mother has heard about the amazing fortuneteller from the village ladies, so she calls her. The fortuneteller says that Dan has already met the love of her life and they parted three years ago, and that Dan will remain alone but will be so successful that she doesn’t need a man. Thankfully, Dan confirms that she prefers to remain single and focus on her music, so Mom decides to find a man for herself instead.
Man-bok leaves the military and moves his family to Pyongyang to pursue his new career — sound design for a film company. So perfect! The ducklings stay in the village under their new captain, Chi-soo, who has to visit the black market vendor to get his fix of fancy Se-ri’s Choice shampoo, hee.
Se-ri goes on another trip to Switzerland, and this time the featured pianist plays the song that Jung-hyuk wrote for his brother. Jung-hyuk arrives just as the song begins, and he and Se-ri hold hands under the table as they enjoy the exhibition. They stay together in a little villa on a mountain, like they do for two weeks every year, happy and in love.
Awww, what a perfect solution to Se-ri and Jung-hyuk’s separation problem! This show never did the expected and continually surprised me in the best ways, and the ending was no different. They can’t be together full-time, but they can see each other in Switzerland, since being there is part of their jobs. So they were able to protect their families and resume their lives, without having to sacrifice anything that’s important to them, and still spend time together whenever possible. It’s not the way dramas usually end so I’ve been trying to imagine an “all or nothing” solution to whether Jung-hyuk and Se-ri could be together, and I love that they found a creative compromise that works on all levels.
I also adored the way Jung-hyuk found a way to “be with” Se-ri for a year after leaving, by setting up those scheduled texts. That was a huge undertaking, but it made the difference for both of them between that first year apart being one of misery, or one where they still felt mutually loved and connected. And then Se-ri returned the favor by setting up her foundation and holding music exhibitions in Switzerland, hoping that Jung-hyuk would eventually see an advertisement and know that it meant she was waiting for him. The best thing about their relationship was the rock-solid conviction that they are on the same page, thinking and feeling the same things, and it’s what made it possible for them to find a way to be together again.
I knew we were going to lose Seung-joon, and while I think it was terribly unfair to Dan, it also made a lot of narrative sense for both of them. Seung-joon died a hero deserving of Dan’s love, knowing that the woman he loved, loved him in return. He got several chances to redeem himself and took every single one, helping out Jung-hyuk and Se-ri and saving Dan’s life. And while Dan will grieve Seung-joon for the rest of her life, she also discovered that she doesn’t need a man, and that she is a whole person all on her own. That’s an amazing gift that Seung-joon left for her, and I came away feeling that Dan will live a very full life despite not following the path that society expects of her.
I feel like Crash Landing on You’s success was earned on many levels, and that one of the main reasons it became so popular was the incredible cast. Not only were the actors perfectly chosen, they had fantastic chemistry as an ensemble and gave some of the best performances of their drama careers. You can tell that this project was deeply loved by those involved, by their obvious commitment to and affection for the story. Crash Landing had its flaws, like all shows do, but when those involved are as enamored by the drama as seemed to be the case here, the audience doesn’t even care because it’s such a joy to experience.
For me, Crash Landing was always about love, but not just the romantic type of love. This drama highlighted just about every kind of love that exists — love within families, love between friends, love for one’s country, and love of oneself. It even explored harmful types of love such as love of money, love of power, and love that twists and harms those it’s supposed to protect. I could go on and on about the ways that Crash Landing showed how love can uplift or let down, how it can help or harm, how it’s possible to love someone in a way that makes you both better people or that’s hurtful and damaging. But in the end, this drama was about the kind of love that heals, that fills in the holes in a person’s life and helps them become the whole person they’re meant to be, and that lasts beyond loss, separation, time, and even enemy lines. I feel like Jung-hyuk and Se-ri, in finding their love and making it work despite the odds, have proven that as long as your heart is open to love, all kinds of love, even the painful kind, then your life will be brightened and enriched past anything you can even imagine.
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