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Gaksital: Episode 28 (Final)

I have good news and bad. The bad: Gaksital has to end, and today’s the day. The good: It is damn good, all the way to the finish line. Brace yourselves, citizens. This show hasn’t let up for one moment, and it sure as hell isn’t going to start now. Prepare your tears and your fists, and reserve a hug from someone close for the aftermath.

The finale aired at a series high of 22.9% ratings. Here we go…

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Boss Jo walks Mok Dan down the aisle, and Kang-to takes her hand. Teacher Yang Baek presides over the small wedding in front of friends and family, and tells them to face any hardship with love, and to use that love… to have ten children. They giggle.

What they don’t hear is the thundering sound of boots getting closer and closer. Perhaps it’s better this way. Shunji leads the imperial army and his own policemen, prepared to ambush the camp. His mole meets them to report on everyone’s whereabouts.

Shunji asks where Kang-to is. Mole: “At the wedding.” Uh… his wedding to be exact. To the one girl you’ve decided is your only saving grace. Oh crap doesn’t really do the moment justice.

Shunji’s face contorts in shock and anger, and demands to know where. He sends the army to hit the camp, while he takes a small group of men to the wedding.

Kang-to and Mok Dan actually get to finish the ceremony and walk down the aisle as husband and wife. It’s making me So. Nervous.

Shunji runs and runs, as they walk down the aisle and their friends clap. Mok Dan gives her bouquet to Sun-hwa, and Deuk-soo cheers like an adorable spaz.

And then… Shunji arrives. Everything turns to slow motion, as he sees Mok Dan smiling and happy, standing there in her wedding dress next to Kang-to. Oof. That moment, no matter what Shunji’s done up till now, cuts deep.

He just stands there, frozen, watching them smile blissfully. Slowly Mok Dan’s eyes start to change… she sees him first. Shunji raises his gun. No.

He fires. Mok Dan is faster. Ohgodohgod.

By the time the bullet reaches Kang-to, she’s already standing in front of him, to block the shot. Blood pours down her white dress.

Fuck. Fuck, I knew it. I knew the moment you got that wedding dress you’d die in it. Gaaaaaaaaah. Why did you tempt the fates? WHY?

Kang-to only realizes what’s happened as she falls into his arms. He catches her, trembling in horror, and looks up to see Shunji. He’s reeling just as badly.

Shunji stands there numb, watching everything happen in slow motion. Kang-to picks her up and runs, as the wedding party scrambles to get everyone to safety. The rest of the officers arrive, and Boss Jo lunges at Shunji to keep him from Mok Dan.

Shunji shoots him through the chest, but Boss Jo grabs his leg and holds on for dear life, buying Kang-to and Mok Dan precious seconds to get away. Augh, it’s horrifying but so moving. Shunji breaks into a rage and beats him to a pulp, and then shoots him again. He finally lets go.

Comrade Jo does the same, staying behind to shoot so that her leaders can get away. They have to drag Teacher Yang Baek away from her, as they watch her fall to her death.

Shunji tears through the woods, looking for Kang-to, and picks up a trail of blood. Mok Dan’s blood. Augh.

Kang-to runs and runs, carrying her. He trips and they falter, and she pleads with him to put her down. He says just a little longer.

Mok Dan: “Please, put me down.” *TEARS*

She’s asking him to let her go. I can’t take this. He starts to cry, understanding what she means. Mok Dan: “Don’t cry. Today is our wedding day.”

She starts to cry as she worries for HIM: “You said you fight because of me… but I ended up like this… and I wanted to make you dinner every day… I wanted to wear the flower rings… Be strong. Promise me that you’ll be strong, even without your wife. Promise me.”

He just nods, his whole body shaking with tears.

Shunji reaches the end of his blood trail, but no Kang-to. He fumes.

Mok Dan reaches out to caress Kang-to’s face one last time, and then she dies in his arms. He clutches her and lets out a piercing cry. Auuuuuugh. I don’t know if I can handle any more pain for Kang-to. It’s too much. I feel broken.

It’s his cry that Shunji hears, and he runs toward the sound. CAN’T YOU LET HIM MOURN IN PEACE?

Kang-to sobs as he holds his bride’s lifeless body, on their freaking wedding day. I hate the universe today. But Show, I kind of love.

Shunji finds them and falters again, as he sees Mok Dan. What, did you expect that she’d survive?? He tells her to put her down, screaming, “It’s because of you! It’s because of you!”

Oh wow. That is some powerful denial. You pulled the trigger, but it’s Kang-to’s fault? He raises his gun, shaking in fury, and Kang-to doesn’t even move. He just glares in stone-cold anger.

But thankfully Baek Gun arrives and knocks Shunji out from behind to buy them time. They run. Thank goodness, because I’m pretty sure Kang-to would’ve fought gun-to-fist back there.

Meanwhile, it’s a massacre at the camp. The death squad fights to the end, but they’ve been ambushed and outnumbered, and they go down bloody.

Abe is among the troops, and as he surveys the bodies of people he knew lying on the ground, he takes off his hat.

Kye-soon’s little brother Min-kyu lies on the ground after an explosion, but wakes up just as troops are walking through to make sure everyone’s dead. A member of the death squad wakes up next to him to see him stir, and quickly lies on top of him to keep him from being found alive.

He gets shot the second he moves, and his blood pours down Min-kyu’s face, after having saved his life.

Shunji wakes up in the woods, dazed. But then he sees the pool of blood where Mok Dan died, and falls to his knees. He reaches his hands out, trembling, as if he can touch her there, and breaks down.

It’s telling that he cries just as hard as Kang-to. And it’s just as gut-wrenching, but in a totally different way. Shunji is such a tragic figure, having turned Mok Dan into his sole salvation, only to kill her. He wails, his hands drenched in her blood.

Dong-jin and Yang Baek relocate safely to Dong-jin’s hideout. Comrade Ahn reports on the deaths, his voice breaking as he says he’ll take care to bury Comrade Jo when it’s dark. Yang Baek asks him to find Kang-to as well.

Shunji reports to governor Wada that all 300 death squad fighters were killed. He’s pleased at the numbers, but asks how the key three leaders escaped. Shunji says they’re scouring the mountains right now in search of them, along with the weapons stash that they weren’t able to find.

He returns to his darkened office alone, and there’s just a really nice, tense moment where he sits in the dark, and the phone rings. He doesn’t move to answer it, and every ring sounds more ominous than the last, like it’s sounding the alarm for the unleashing of something terrifying.

The calls must’ve been from Rie, because she comes running into his office in a panic. She asks what happened with Kang-to and Mok Dan in the raid, but then takes it back immediately—she doesn’t want to know.

After a long pause, Shunji: “Mok Dan is dead. I killed her.” He says he was shooting at the man who killed his father, but she ran into the line of fire. “It was the first time I had ever seen her smile that way…”

But just as I’m about to note that he admits to killing her, his dark expression returns, “The one who killed Mok Dan was Kang-to. Not me!” Rie’s looks at him in horror. He swears he’ll kill Kang-to, and Rie’s eyes dart back and forth in panic.

Kang-to lies on Mok Dan’s grave. That alone just kills me—the way he lies there, still holding on, face to the dirt. The tears just keep falling, as he remembers her promise to follow him into the heart of the fire, anywhere.

And then her insistence that Gaksital needed to live, to be a light for the Joseon people. He tells himself, “Be strong, Lee Kang-to. Let’s be strong. You promised you’d be strong.”

Baek Gun pleads with him to get up now. He says for Boon-yi’s sake, he has to get up, and tells him about the massacre. He finally manages to lift his head from the dirt a few inches, as he shakes, “Ajusshi, what did you say?” Baek Gun: “They’re all dead!”

Still a little out of it, Kang-to asks, “The soldiers I saved… are all dead?” Baek Gun: “The entire river is stained with the blood of the youth.”

That finally wakes Kang-to up and he asks where Teacher Yang Baek is. Baek Gun sighs in relief and tells him they’re at the hideout. Kang-to turns to the grave and thinks to himself, “Boon-yi-ya… I’ll get up. I’ll be strong.”

And then he stands.

He meets Dong-jin and Yang Baek who thank him for returning alive. Yang Baek asks haltingly after Mok Dan. Kang-to: “I laid her down in sunny spot.” I’m crying all over again.

Yang Baek laments the death of so many of their young, and says that they must fight. Dong-jin says that they will fight to reclaim their land, so that the blood of their comrades will not have been in vain.

Chairman Ueno is disgruntled at Shunji’s performance, thinking it pointless to have cut off the snake’s tail while leaving the head intact. But Shunji argues that an armed attack is improbable without foot soldiers, and that they’ve found a way to draw the leaders out.

They’ve spread the rumor that Dong-jin died in the attack, making his other death squads separate and lose focus. In order to keep them intact, Dong-jin has to show his face eventually.

Meanwhile, the good guys prepare to go into town. Haha, I just love that one’s dressed as a monk and the other’s a priest. There’s a bar joke in there somewhere. Yang Baek is headed out of Kyungsung, and he and Kang-to hug each other goodbye, promising to meet again someday.

On his way down the mountain, Little Bro Min-kyu stumbles into Dong-jin, having survived for days alone in the woods. Aw. Dong-jin hugs him and thanks the boy for staying alive, and Min-kyu cries in his arms.

Shunji drives through town and reels at the sight of a woman in a white dress. He replays the moment he shot Mok Dan again and again. I love the sick twist of that—it’s Shunji who’s more haunted by Mok Dan’s death than anyone.

Comrade Ahn pedicabs Yang Baek into town, and right past Shunji… but he’s too blinded by his Mok Dan trauma to notice. Whew.

Newssheets announce the attack on the death squads, and the deaths of Dong-jin and Gaksital. Kye-soon cries as she reads it, only to have her little brother walk right into the restaurant behind her, along with Dong-jin.

She hugs Min-kyu tearfully, and gets introduced to Dong-jin. She’s surprised that he’s alive as well, and he asks that she spread the word that he’s alive and that the death squads continue to fight. She promises to spread the word. Did we actually find a good use for the snitch? That’s hilarious.

Shunji returns to the station, where his officers nervously hand him an envelope of the pictures he ordered. He takes them into his office. They can’t be… He wouldn’t…

He braces himself and takes them out… Oh man, he did. They’re the wedding pictures that Reporter Song took. He shakes as he looks at the pictures of Mok Dan and Kang-to smiling in bliss.

He lingers on a shot of Mok Dan and cries, and then goes through the pictures all over again, torturing himself.

Baek Gun reports that Teacher Yang Baek successfully boarded the train out of town. He asks Kang-to how long he’s going to let Shunji live, and Kang-to says it’s time to deal with him. But there’s someone else he has to eliminate first.

The man who killed the death squad and the student soldiers, the one who turned Joseon into a prison and exploited its people…

Cut to: Chairman Ueno. Awwwww yeah.

He calls Rie in to ask why she didn’t run when Shunji spared her life. She says Father taught her that power was everything in this world, so where else would she go? He sneers in disgust that she’d have Kang-to in her heart and still dare to call him Father.

He says this is the end of their union, and nods at Kinpei. Oh crap. Katsuyama watches as Kinpei draws his sword and aims for Rie’s neck…

She doesn’t move, doesn’t run. Kinpei raises his sword for the strike… and Katsuyama attacks. YESSSSS! Go, Katsuyama, go!

Now it’s samurai against samurai, with Rie in between them, and Chairman Ueno yelling at them to follow orders. Kinpei quickly gains the upper hand, but then, a dagger!

Gaksital bursts in, and throws a punishment dagger at Ueno’s desk. Kinpei fights back even with the dagger in his chest, and Kang-to levels another one, while Katsuyama gets up and slices Kinpei open. Whoa. They’re… fighting on the same side? Just for a moment, but whoa.

Kang-to walks past Rie and levels his killin’ flute at Ueno. Kang-to: “Your greed to consume the Far East, the Pacific Ocean… has taken my family, and Shunji’s, away from us.” It kills me that he includes Shunji here.

Ueno says that’s the cost of war, in making an honorable history. Kang-to: “Yours is not a noble history, but a crime that will not fade!”

He points his cane at Ueno’s throat as the Gakistal theme rises up. He gives that familiar speech: “I have come to punish you for your wrongs!” and strikes Ueno dead.

He walks out, and Rie runs after him. She says she heard about Mok Dan, and was worried about him. And then… she says that Shunji is hurting too. She asks, “Just as I let you live, can’t you let him go, just once? Killing him won’t make your pain disappear. I don’t want you to be in pain anymore.”

But he doesn’t reply. He steels himself and walks past her, without a word.

Shunji sits before his father, as Damsari’s words that he’d wasted his life come back to haunt him. He answers a call—it’s Rie, who says that Gaksital killed Ueno.

Shunji just smiles at the news, “So he’ll come for me then.” She asks if he can’t just avoid Kang-to tonight, and worries that he’s planning to do something stupid. He laughs, “You don’t know me very well, do you?”

He asks if she’ll leave now. She finally says yes. “Alone?” She says, knowing it’s an empty request: “If I say I go alone, will you hold me back and tell me not to go?”

He smiles on the other end of the line and shakes his head. “Go well. And live well.” She tells him to do the same. It’s a lovely moment between two tragic characters. Not love, but understanding.

Shunji takes out his gun, cocks it, and puts it back in the drawer. He waits.

Katsuyama drops Rie off with her suitcase. He asks where she’s going, if he can’t go with her. She says it’s best to say goodbye here. He pleads one last time if he can’t remain by her side like a shadow.

Rie: “Katsuyama, looking into the eyes of someone who will never love you back is a life of despair.” She thanks him and turns to go. It’s a beautiful scene—not just emotionally, but visually stunning.

She turns back to add, “My name… is Choi Hong-joo.” Wow, the first time we hear her claim her true identity.

Katsuyama smiles, maybe for the first time ever, and calls out after her, “I will never forget your name.” She smiles and walks away.

Kang-to stealths into the Kimura house and takes off his mask in front of Dad’s memorial. Shunji is waiting, and pours him a drink. He asks casually, “You came?” Kang-to shuts the door behind him.

Shunji says they can at least have a drink together right? “Since this is the end.” Don’t remind me! Kang-to sits across from him and downs his drink, and Shunji does too. Shunji: “Did you send Mok Dan well?”

Kang-to can’t believe the casual words, “Did I send her well?

Shunji opens a drawer and takes out a wedding photo and passes it over. Kang-to’s eyes well up, but he shuts them to drown out the pain. Shunji says it’s the first time he’s seen her smile that way, “even though it was for another.”

He says he had the photo printed to give to him, “Because it’s yours.” Kang-to tucks it into his shirt, “You’re letting her go now? After you killed her by your own hand?”

Shunji tries to tell him not to be too harsh—he had to let her go from afar. Kang-to: “Do you think I’m here for Mok Dan alone? Is Mok Dan the only person who died at your hand?”

He names them all—every single comrade who died while he tortured them, Dong-nyun, Boss Jo, Damsari… Boon-yi, the young soldiers.

Kang-to: “The youth, who were someone’s son, someone’s husband, someone’s brother—the young people who gathered to reclaim their land! … I didn’t realize how much I’d come to regret not killing you that day.”

Shunji says he knows that feeling—the day his father died, and he regretted choosing not to kill him and put his mask back on. Kang-to asks if it isn’t time now to end it. “You or me… one of us must die for it to end, doesn’t it?”

They look into each other’s eyes, and Kang-to whispers, “Are you ready?” Shunji nods with a smile. He tells Kang-to to meet him in the yard, “I’ll be right there.” What? No, don’t turn your back. Don’t turn your back. DON’T DO IT.

Kang-to gets up and walks out, and Shunji takes out his gun…

And then he raises it to his temple. Oh. Fuck. SHUNJI!!!!

He winces and holds back tears, and shoots. Kang-to stops in his tracks, knowing what it means. A tear trickles down his face, and then he forges ahead, without turning back.

Nanny runs in to find Shunji dead, and cries with his head in her lap, his eyes still wet from tears.

The movement works tirelessly to prepare for the armed demonstration. Sun-hwa and her brother paint Korean flags, while Kang-to makes masks—gaksitals, each carved by hand.

Deuk-soo and Sun-hwa pass out flags at the marketplace, and Dong-jin and his very small group of men who remain gather their hands, “Solidarity.”

Governor Wada presides over the anniversary of the Japan-Korea union, and leads the room in a round of “Bansai!” to the Empire.

And outside, the sound of boots hitting the pavement, in perfect step…

The death squad members march in the rain, steeled with purpose. They go right through the center of town… and straight for the police station. Koiso and his men scramble out to meet them.

And then two by two, citizens come pouring out from alleyways, every single one of them dressed as Gaksital.

Oh my god. This is so moving.

Soon the entire street is filled with them, waving flags. I can’t see through my tears. They begin to chant:

“Korean Independence, manseh!” [They’re using manseh “long live,” the one word that embodies the entire independence movement, as a rebellion against the Japanese banzai.]

It’s the fighting cry of the people to reclaim their nation. The roar of their cheer echoes through the streets, and they march ahead, led in front by the death squad. Koiso and his men ready themselves against the mob.

Hands and flags go up in the air, as they walk straight into certain death. It’s unbelievably awe-inspiring.

From the front line, Reporter Song screams the cue, and they charge at full speed. The officers train their guns, and then explosions go off behind them.

As the crowd runs to attack, there’s Kang-to, walking amongst them in the center of the mob. He marches straight ahead, now surrounded by countless Gaksitals all sounding the cry for their country.

 
GIRLFRIDAY’S COMMENTS

A.MA.ZING.

That is perhaps the best ending I could have asked for. That it doesn’t end in victory, but an uprising, the start of a movement to keep fighting, against all odds? That a hero gives the people the means to fight for what’s theirs and walks as just one, among them? It’s beyond moving, and beyond fiction. I can’t stop crying. It felt like a glimpse into history—not the event, but the emotion, and the fervor that drove people to do exactly what Damsari described. It’s the egg against the rock—they face death, and yet they march ahead anyway. That average people rise up, willing to die for their country, knowing the uphill climb ahead… it just doesn’t get more powerful than that. Acting upon that metaphor was the perfect way to end the series. I expected as much, and yet it still moved me beyond what I could have imagined.

And what a perfect ending for Gaksital the symbol. It’s the best of heroic ideals: Kang-to doesn’t wield his strength or his power for himself, but shares it with the people. Rather than standing above them as a figurehead and a leader, he literally gives the identity of the gaksital over to them, to empower them to fight. You share your power, and you keep fighting, even in the face of certain death.

So rarely do I come across a show where each main character’s ending leaves me satisfied. It’s sad how rare that is. And there were certainly hiccups for other characters along the way in this series. But I loved every sendoff we got in this finale. Mok Dan’s death was the perfect final knife twist. Painful, but such good dramatic pain. Let’s face it—she was doomed the second she put on that white dress. That much, we knew. What’s crucial from a story standpoint is how she changes both the hero and the villain, even this late in the game. It’s searing, heartrending pain for both of them, but Kang-to lays her down, and continues to gather his will to fight from her, even when she’s gone. While Shunji, who more tragically never knew her love, is broken by her death past the point of recovery.

He wasn’t kidding when he called her his salvation—he let himself believe that if there was a chance he could be with her, he could return to his former self. That quite literally dies with her, and the tragic twist is, it dies by his own hand. It’s the perfect ending for his character, because I found myself feeling sorry for him just in time to feel the sock to the gut when he killed himself. I didn’t want Kang-to to have to kill him, because his breakdown and his choice to show mercy in the last episode was so moving. And even as Mok Dan died, I didn’t regret that choice he made. I loved that Rie tried to stop him, not for Shunji’s sake, but his own—Kang-to would never be the same if he had to kill Shunji. I think it would’ve broken him the way Mok Dan’s death broke Shunji. Shunji’s was, in some ways, the most poetic ending. Yunno… the dark, twisted tragic kind. But poetic nonetheless.

Rie’s sendoff was fantastic as well. I thought it so clever that we were in the same boat as she was—just waiting for the day she’d die, like it was inevitable. She had given up, we had given up; there was seemingly no hope for her. But I LOVE that she gets a second chance, and that once she really loses everything, she reclaims her Korean name and her painful past. I actually find the choice to give her a future, no matter how uncertain, the most hopeful of all the endings. She comes out of the rubble having found herself.

There were certainly some glaring faults with the series, like the repetition of one conflict, namely the secret identity, or the constant repetition of setups: guns drawn, no one gets hurt, whose turn is it in the torture chains today, the good guys get backed into a corner so easily it makes you tear out your hair, etc. etc. I do think the fault was namely with the writing on a plot-maneuvering level. The big epic heroic speeches, the larger movement, the huge shifts in character from the beginning of the series to the end? Awesome. The secret agent spy stuff? So simplistic a child could’ve thought it up. There was so little cloak in the cloak and dagger. Everything was so direct and obvious that you mostly wanted to sit the good guys down and make them watch a spy movie for inspiration and tips. But I do think that the directing was a standout—it smoothed over the seams between the moments of good writing and lazy writing. It took very simple written material and elevated everything to something incredibly visceral. The tension made my blood curdle, it was so good. And I thought it so fitting that a drama adapted from a comic book had such a strong visual flair. Every frame really looked like a cell out of a comic.

The cast was stellar, though Mok Dan was the weak link—she wasn’t bad, but she didn’t quite have the same range as the rest, which was a shame. I loved her as a character though, so I don’t think Jin Sae-yeon did wrong by the character. She just lacked layers—the stuff underneath the obvious emotion and written words. Joo-won and Park Ki-woong have to be hands-down the best hero-villain pair I’ve seen in a long time. Their friendship-to-bitter-enemies story was the heart of the series, and they really carried every moment of that emotion, whether it was rage, betrayal, longing, or heartbreak. Theirs is the relationship that hooked me, and the one that broke me in the end. I still find myself agape that a show would stick to its guns and go as dark as it did with both of these characters, from beginning to end. Standing ovation, Show. Standing O.

JAVABEANS’ COMMENTS

Tears.

Ohhh man, am I spent. This drama does powerful like nobody’s business.

The show deals with some pretty immense issues and draws on true events in history, so naturally some of that gravitas is built right into the premise. But we can’t overlook the talents of the crew on this one, for bringing it to life with such pathos and immediacy. There have been so many dramas and movies about equally dire historical events that don’t achieve this, as we know.

The show made me feel like these characters were real people living out these daily horrors. True, they’re based on real people, but I mean realism in an emotional, gut-level sense—the characters went beyond what they symbolized. They had their own agendas and weaknesses, and varying levels of loyalty to one cause or another. I’ve been impressed not only with the heroism of these characters, but also the drama’s depiction of those less brave. Just as a one-note villain wears thin, white-haloed good guys don’t offer as much depth either.

Thus the construction of the richness of its world is something the drama achieved particularly well. Which is really the best way to honor the complexity of real life. I think an overly simplified depiction of the conflict would have killed me, because I loved the blur of black and white, of love and hate, of cause and country. This drama so easily could have fallen back on the same old, same old, and I’m so grateful that it didn’t take the easy route. It may have gutted me emotionally, but man, did I love it.

I figured Mok Dan was doomed, and even felt her death would make a fitting turn on a narrative level. Let’s be honest, she was always most interesting in what she meant to everyone around her, and less so as a character in her own right. The question for me was always what the question of her life-death scenario would signify: Would it mark Shunji’s last shred of humanity to spare her (or rescue her, or let her go), or signal his complete ruin?

Alas, we know which side he fell on. As to the final showdown: I knew one of them had to die, and never was there a question that I wanted it to be Shunji, because, well, Kang-to just means too much. And if that had to be the standoff, then Shunji finding a shred of doubt—harking back to Damsari’s words that he’s lived his life wrong—and feeling remorse is the best way I could have hoped it would resolve. I don’t see redemption in Shunji’s death, but I do find it powerful that his final killing was one that relieved Kang-to’s burden, not added to it. For that I’m actually grateful.

So Mok Dan dies and it’s tragic, but I absolutely love Kang-to finding that will inside him to stand up and be strong anyway—honoring her dying wish. That encapsulates the drama’s whole point, doesn’t it?, about the spirit of the Korean people. You live out these daily horrors and you’re treated like a prisoner in your own native land, but you can choose to lie down and give up, or you can find that strength and carry on. As Tasha said previously, “in pain if you must, in longing if you must.”

History tells us that Korea didn’t find independence for another decade, but the people living in that time don’t know that—you fight for what you believe, not for assured victory. That’s something Mok Dan noted recently, and it bespeaks the spirit of the drama.

The fight goes on. And ultimately, what’s important isn’t who Gaksital is, as the drama’s final, powerful scene shows us. You’re all Gaksital, you’re all living in oppression, and you’re all fighting together. I love that: Unity, solidarity, independence.

 
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Seems like a heavy series,

I can't really take heavy dramas.

But...so many raves about it, I'll watch it when I'm brave enough.

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I'm sorry but I hate this series... It frustrated me soooooooo much, I couldn't find the nerves or energy to finish it! It started off sooooo good but after Mok Dan found out Lee Khang To was the bridal mask, that's where it went downhill... From then it just dragged & it just frustrated me every scene... That's why I stopped at episode 22.. I don't want to finish thus series & I regret even starting it! >.<'

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you hate this drama but you watch it untill ep 22, wow..........i can't say i hate a drama if i watch it untill so long, you watch it untill ep 22 it means there's something you like
I can say i hate faith because i only can watch 1 eps and i don't wanna watch it again. So far bridal mask is the best drama of the year and joo won is the best actor

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really?? end then you've missed something amazing...

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now that it's over... i'm feeling a little empty inside :((((((((

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Drama of the year for me. It's so rich, so tragic and
beautiful, so emotionally wrenching/touching, and so so so
good. I bawled so many times throughout the episode. 
Mostly with KangTo and Shunji. I cried every time the 
wedding photos come up. 
I cried with Kangto at the graveside.
I cried when Shunji died. The way nanny craddles him in
her lap... *sobs*
I'm impressed at how the show manages to send off each
character with appropriate timings and explanations.
Nothing felt rushed or dragged. 
Rie's departure was so beautiful. 
Gaksital, I love you.

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shivers at the last minutes of the show.. Their uprising was awe inspiring and poetic and most of all it was EPIC.

Farewell Gaksital! I will miss U so much....

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BEST GREAT AMAIZING END EVER Gaskitaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal i'll miss you ;(;(;(
you are in my top kdrama list

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I cried last night watching . Still crying right now as I read the recaps. GAKSITAL . amazing drama ...

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There's something that makes me wonder... let's say Gaksital was still fighting past 1948. Who would he fight with? The communist run North Korea, or the ROK. I know it's a odd question, but that's what I always wondered.

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He can join City Hunter and fight corporate corruption of the political system? lol

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I LOVE THIS DRAMA IT WAS A GREAT . I LOVED TO SEE MOK DAN AND LEE TO ENGRAVE THE MARCH OF INDEPENDENCE BUT SAD . AS PER MOK DAN ACTING I AM NOT IN POSITION TO ADDRESS THAT AND EVEN HER CHARACTER WRITING WAS NOT PERFECT IN THE MIDDLE , SHE WAS JUST IN MIDDLE OF tWO PERSON HERE N THERE , SHE WAS ONLY HELPING IN SMALL PART WHICH THINK NICE SHOW
THANKS FOR RECAPS AND TO THE SUBBERS OF SHOW

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Thanks JB & GF.
Special thanks to JB for turning me onto Park Ki Woong way back when (2009). I noticed him in Story of Man but didnt know who he was really until I started seeing articles on him featured here. That got me intrigued when Gaksital started. I had watched Kim TaekGu and hated JooWon's character so didnt want to watch Gaksital. But once I discovered Gaksital I went looking for other JooWon works- especially 2d1n - and discovered how adorable he is.
Anyway, back to PKW. He stole the show in the latter half. Mad props to JooWon but he seemed too tired and took a back seat to other freedom fighters whereas PKW's Shunji was front and center as main villin. And what a foil to kangto shunji was. It is perhaps the best frenemy storyline I've seen. I really believed they wanted to kill each other but would regret it if they did. And it was acted to perfection by PKW. I can see him grow as an actor. I havent been this excited about an actor since seeing so jisup in MiSa.
And we know how versatile pkw is- action (gaksital), singing (the musical), dancing (phone CF), rom-com (full house). cant wait to see what he has in store for us next!

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Thank you for the final recap of BM... Such a good drama..Gonna watch it again..:)

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One of the most powerful endings in a drama I have ever seen. I havent cried so much since The Princess's Man. Just bloody gorgeous.
The scene between Rie and Shunji wss so elegant and lovely. Probably my favourite. And Rie and Katsuysmas farewell? Tear my heart out why doncha? And poor Kangto having to say goodbye to s beloved family member? AGAIN? I couldnt take it.
I still miss hyung.
Shunji's end was perfect. Im so glad he spared Kangto the task. I dont think he couldve taken it. And his gesture of handing kangto the wedding photos? So besutiful. Sigh
Ill miss you GAKSITAAAAAALLLL.

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This is a fantastic drama. I studied Japanese as an Arts degree against the wishes of my grandpa who had to flee his hometown when the Japanese invaded China during WWII.
Because I studied in Aust. the history was written from the Allied forces' point of view. When I went to Japan and visited Hiroshima, the historical facts were somewhat different from what l learned. The casualties quoted was exceptionally lower.
As in all wars, there are good people and bad people regardless of race. Let's not forget a good German in 'Schindler's list'. But history should be presented as it 'was' not 'changed'. Many of my Japanese friends did not know much about WWII although they did complete the high school compulsory history subject.
We should learn to forgive but never forget. A reminder not to ever ever go that path again.

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actually my number one drama all time in my list list is baker king kim tak goo, when i heard joo won take a role in bridal mask i never think that this drama would be so good, i never think that i would really like his role again ( i really like his acting as goo ma jun)
Now i confussed which is number one baker king or bridal mask

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oh my god! i just read recap,,
and know mok dan is died,,
my eyes tearing up.. its sad,, but yeah,, i need to watch it gaksital right now

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iv never cried so much in my life. you're right, this was the best drama ever, and the ending was just perfect!

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First, let me say I agree with all who say PKW acted this role to perfection. Definitely hands down his best role to date. PKW, you better follow up with a stellar new drama next year when you've had plenty of rest!

On to Shunji -- I felt sure he'd be redeemed before I completed this drama. No, not 100% and not to the point where he'd take off his uniform and go back to the children like he always said. He was always too far gone for that. But I'm glad to see that in the end, MokDan did change him when he realized how happy she was in the pics and how it wasn't him who could make her that happy, but KangTo. I'd like to think that as far as redemption goes, perhaps Shunji couldn't make it all the way over to the good side, but he still at least all along had some good left in him -- because of MokDan.

Tonight, I'd like to think he redeemed himself at least half-way when he met KangTo and gave MokDan back to him (gave him the pic) and also spared his former friend the task of having to kill him. He could have tried to continue living but there was no point -- DamSari made his point: he had lived a worthless life. He didn't get the love of his life and my eyes could be playing tricks but he even seemed to attempt something resembling remorse when KT recounted how he killed countless people, regardless of why he did it. Why did he do it? Maybe it was to achieve his goal of securing MD next to him at any and all costs to have her living happily next to him while he secured power and ambition --I really don't know. But I am glad he finally realized in the 11th hour that he finally faced realized and understood he could never have put that smile on her face the way KT did at the wedding. And while KT may have found the will to keep living, Shunji already started dying a little on the inside after MD's death. Seeing that broke ME.

I know we all loved to hate Shunji and he was in a way really a pathetic character since sometimes he couldn't face reality and lived his life oh so wrongly because of love. But in the end, he willingly gave up his life for that same love. In spite of everything, Shunji realized he was right all along: that love, not power and ambition, was the only thing worth living and dying for. And because of that, in the end, he did turn to be a an incredibly brave, *brave* and surprising man -- even though we cannot condone his the countless despicable deeds he committed.

And PKW pull all of that off in what seems to be effortlessly and flawlessly. Hats off. What a brave, committed actor. I love JooWon, too, and I will never forget his face at the end of the drama in the manseh rally. But Shunji/PKW's face will stay with me for a long, long time... oh, I hate you for this, Shunji!!!

Love you, PKW. *hug*

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I have no words... I just loved EVERYTHING about this finale though I thought I have to take a break after 8 minutes or so because I couldn't stop crying :( and therefore couldn't see very well ^^

After the disappointment of Big finally a drama that managed to satisfy me in every aspect! (and man do i LOVE the OST of this drama!!!)
And of course the acting of PKW and JW was amazing!

Thank you for your awesome recaps!

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WOW! just WOW! it finally ended. though the end is kind of sad for me, I found it satisfying. maybe this is the best ending for this kind of drama could have.

Bridal Mask have to be hands down the best drama this year!

thank you for the actors (especially Joo Won & Park Ki Woong for the spectacular performances), the director, the producer, the crews, the stuntmans... for the hard work and brought out this amazing piece altogether.

and special thanks to javabeans & girlfriday for the great recaps every week. love you!

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javabeans and girlfriday, I nearly gave up on watching Korean dramas after my first attempt (Boys Over Flowers), but early into watching Coffee Prince, I discovered JB's wonderful recaps, and I've been a lurker ever since. Thank you for the tears, sweat, and sleeplessness that you must surely put into these recaps. They bring such depth and nuances to the worthy shows, and confirm my frustrations about the lesser shows.

Gaksital was the first drama to actually bring me out of lurker mode though, so thanks jb and gf for your part in that, and to the wonderful community here too. ^_^

Gosh, this was an angsty drama! The intensity tore me up and made me realize it's probably not good for me to watch dramas that haven't finished airing yet, at least not until I learn more Korean. :P But it was SO worth it. the characters' journeys here were incredible. Even though I know the historical details aren't entirely accurate, I feel like I got to know and love Korea more through watching this drama. And I have some new favorite actors to follow in the future!

I need to watch the episode again with subs (watched it raw first, then read the recap), and probably the whole series again at an even pace, but I guess I was satisfied with the ending. Not happy by any means, but it was incredibly stirring. Seeing Kangto have the strength to go on like he promised Mok Dan was beautiful. Shunji--tragic to the end, yet I still cried out in anguish when he held the gun to his head. Rie--lovely ending.

Hugs to all the fellow fans out there as we're grieving over the ending with the characters and also entering into withdrawal mode. If anyone's got a suggestion of what to see next, I'll be on the lookout.

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From ep. 1 to ep 28, it was a fantastic drama! Great acting for all the cast. I will miss it.

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I don't look at Mok Dan as a weak link, or the actress as being a poor actress. It's just that the two main leads were so off-the-charts fantastic that other actors/characters paled in comparison

This is the first kdrama that I've watched where I felt that the killing of major (protagonist) characters, including the female lead, at the end felt "right" in terms of wrapping up the story. So, this is the first drama where I really felt positive about the ending, and liked it, despite so much death at the end. Compare this to "King2Hearts" where the major character death near the end was completely unnecessary; not to mention the dreaded "Fashion King" with it's WTF ending.

Bridal Mask has really raised the bar in so many ways. It wasn't perfect; the drama's extension likely fueled some of the repetition, like the drawn out cat-and-mouse games and the second-third-fourth-etc chances to "get Bridal Mask" that were granted to Shunji with no apparent consequences for his earlier failures. But aside from that, the things that the actors, writers, producers, set and costume people did well, were at a whole other level than other kdramas.

It really has been a good year so far for kdramas!

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+1000 to your take on Oh Mok Dan. She's not weak, and yes, maybe she wasn't that 'layered.' But that's her role in this story, to be one who was emotionally prepared waaaayyy ahead of Lee Kang To in terms of fighting for freedom and justice. Alas there she was, helping and assisting Lee Kang To/Gaksital in his journey, for him to find his own path as the 'hero' who sheds light to the people.

^_^

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:)

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This is crazy good!!!
Thank yous for the awesome and consistent recaps. I don't know what's going to happen with my life next wednesday, it'll be hollow, for sure.

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Okay gais, just to clean your palate from the Gaksitaaaaaaal heaviness (in time for 1n2d recap tomorrow), here's a bone:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=527460840603193&set=a.520586461290631.144989.389159137766698&type=3&theater

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This drama was amazing from start to finish. I haven't yet gotten over the fact that it is over!

This episode was perhaps one of the most emotionally moving I've seen thus far. I really hope that Park Ki Woong finally gets the recognition that he deserves because he is a brilliant actor.

I wanted to comment on Shunji's suicide. And please do not misunderstand what I am about to say. I interpreted his act of taking his life as one final act of love/mercy towards Kangto. I believe that inspite of all that had passed between both men that they still loved each other. I believe that Kangto would have been devestated if he had to kill Shunji, and vice versa. Why else would Shunji not have kept his promise to meet Kangto in his yard?

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I have been anxious to comment for awhile, but alas, I had to hold back due to school work! I apologize if what I write repeats what others may have already noted and observed (I have not yet read the previous posts).

First of all...what a powerful ending. This drama was book ended by a strong introduction and an emotionally moving conclusion. I must say that who died in this drama didn't come as a surprise to me (Shunji and Mokdan). I thought that there was no way that Shunji could come out of this alive. If Kangto had to die than Shunji had to (Or Kangto would live and Shunji would die). But this drama could have ended more conventionally with Shunji dying in Kangto's arms and asking for forgiveness. I'm glad that it didn't and therefore went against convention. Shunji's death was so sad and, if one thinks about it, pathetic, as the final words of Damsari really struck a chord with him. Mokdan's death, I believe, really removed whatever spirit, whatever passion Shunji had left in him. It is interesting that following Mokdan's death, Kangto still had the strength to go on; Shunji, however, had nothing. And it's really sad that he had no one left; he was utterly alone. I think that his suicide was a way of removing the burden Kangto would have felt had he killed his own friend (the series alluded on multiple occasions, to Kangto's dread of having to fight and kill his friend in the end).

While I do believe that the actress playing Mokdan was not exceptional in this role, I must say that in her character's final moments, she did an excellent job.

Great show! On a side-note, does anyone have any idea how much time has passed by the time we get to the final scene? I believe that the Governal-General makes a reference to America in his speech (but if he is referring to Pearl Harbor, that would place the end of the drama in the 1940s). I know that the main story takes place in the mid-1930s. Did I misunderstand something?

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I agree that in her final scene, Mok Dan was completely and totally believable. The actress did a very good job there, ended strong.

Hmm... I'll have to watch the episode again with subs this time to see what you mean about the America reference. I didn't get anything out of that speech watching it raw.

It can't be just a day or so after the camp massacre. Making all those Gaksital outfits would take some time, even with everyone working on them.

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before episode 28 was played, there was a short message...it said condolences to a gaksital crew member...he had an accident..how did he die? anyone noticed that message before ep 28 was played?

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They're referring to the bus accident that happened near the beginning of shooting back in April. JB wrote about it here: http://www.dramabeans.com/2012/04/bus-crash-on-set-of-bridal-mask-results-in-fatality/

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I'd like to add one more comment to the already insane # of posts :)

It keeps bugging me why it hit me in the gut so when Shunji passed on. I have to say it's because I was rooting with him to believe that he can become good again. I didn't of course agree with his methods -- but I so wanted to believe we could see the good Shunji again -- even a little bit. And we did see good Shunji -- surprising, tricksy man right to the very end. He never did don his teacher outfit again and go back to the children -- that would've been way overkill. He couldn't go back to the children because there was no MokDan. He couldn't go back to the police, because there was no Mokdan to protect either (he only wore the uniform for her sake alone). There really was nothing left for him. I was half-hoping he'd at least pick up Rie -- no, HongJoo's offer to join her. But then again, Rie needed to become HongJoo and an independent woman.
So maybe PKW hit it in all the right places because in the end, it was good Shunji who died, along with the bad. When Shunji was good, he was generous, selfless, and understanding. He was all of those things to KangTo and Mokdan early on their lives. I know that part of him died a long time ago, but it came back in the very last episode in their final drinking scene. :( Oh, Shunji.... if only someone tried to set his head on straight early on in the game... well, then Gaksital wouldn't be Gaksital..

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one character that should have faced the Gaksital whack of death is Koiso. He was there participating in the torturing for some of the people on Gaksital's "here's the list of people you killed" to Shunji plus he's evil with no redeeming qualities whatsoever! maybe Gaksital did finish him off during the rebellion...

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Curtain's closed.
But i don't wanna leave my seat.
N00000000000.... T.T

Virtual bouquets to all.
Good job and well done.
Absolutely one of the best dramas i've ever watched so far.

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Thank you so much for the recaps javabeans and girlfriday ! It really enhanced my viewing experience of that awesome drama, and for that I'm very grateful =)

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I can't possibly say anything that hasn't been posted already. I'd just repeating everyone's sentiment. This was by far the most powerful drama I've ever watched.
And I do have to say, I was so impressed with PKW's performance. Wow can that boy act! How do you top that?

Anyways, I'm off to find something light hearted to watch... My heart's still heavy and it needs liftoff.

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awesome drama... thanks gals for this awesome recaps =)

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Gahh, I was expecting that I'll cry a lot and i did :'(
i started to cry from the begging to the end and
I'm crying all over again while I'm writing this comment :'(

Bridal Mask is one of the dramas that I will never forget for a long time everything was great from the acting,actors, to the production team.....
every scene was a masterpiece and I loved everything about it coz it made me scared happy sad terrified and all the feelings u could imagine I'll miss waking up morning to read the recaps here and i would like to thank GB and GF for their great job<3

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"The fight goes on. And ultimately, what’s important isn’t who Gaksital is, as the drama’s final, powerful scene shows us. You’re all Gaksital, you’re all living in oppression, and you’re all fighting together. I love that: Unity, solidarity, independence".

awesome lines :)

one of the things I'll take from this drama are the great speeches of Damsari and others

and how much a person can give to his home land
even if it means loosing your life

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before episode 28 was played, there was a short message…it said condolences to a gaksital crew member…he had an accident..how did he die? anyone noticed that message before ep 28 was played?

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@jessica

yes I've seen it too , but I don't know anything !!!!

someone knows??

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there was a car accident and an extra died early on before show started airing.

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Shunji also lead the action that left 200 students slaughtered. No going back to being a teacher after that. I see a parallel between Sunji's obsession with possessing the heart of Mok Dan as a means to fulfill his dream of self empowerment - and Japan's obsession with possessing the heart of Korea as the keystone to ruling all Asia. Both lose themselves in the process, and are lead to commit atrocities. The ending was so powerful too. You can step on the Korean people, but it only makes them stronger, and no one can possess them as they are in full possession of themselves. If I had a Korean flag, I would be waving it now too. The history of Korea is perhaps the most stunning history of a people I've studied. I stand in awe of that tiny peninsula and it's incredible people.

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Arishia, that was a brilliant insight. Under all the angst and rage, I overlooked that Shunji's obsession with MokDan totally *was* a real-life parallel to Japan's obsession with possessing the hearts and minds of Koreans. Now more than ever I can better understand how Shunji ended up the way he did -- his story is a timeless lesson of what power/ambition can lead to for dictator. And in spite of it all, he still managed to return to some semblance of his former good self.
Thank you JB and GF also for your thoughts and insights. I love your in depth analysis and discussions as much as your brilliant and beautiful recaps.

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*wails* that video didn't help. And I've already seen it. :)

I'm still sad from losing Shunji. As much as I loved the ending Manseh rally -- it felt somewhat weird to see all that unfold knowing Shunji was gone and not there to witness it or stop it.

I did want Shunji to die, but not like this where he not only takes himself out, but also takes all the viewers' hearts with him. I wanted MokDan or KangTo to kill him but in some grand glorious way -- not the brave way. WTH, Shunji??? Why did you have to make me feel bad about losing you?

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Seppuku is the honorable out for a samurai. Let that at least give you some comfort.

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*sniff* but he didn't commit traditional Seppuku. However, it's just worth it knowing Shunji killed himself to spare KangTo more pain. Thanks for trying, but some of us are just a lost cause when it comes to Shunji. SHUNJIIIIIIIII!!!
It really was a poetic and beautiful death scene, though. PKW's face before Shunji pulls the trigger was just heartbreaking. I was half-expecting him to kill KangTo behind his back but I was totally blown away when he lifted the gun... to his own head. Seriously, if I watch another PKW drama, I think it will be too soon.

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Thank you so much for the excellent analyses and recaps JB and GF. Deeply appreciate it. You gurls are gonna be blessed. Gaksital approves!

So brilliant, so real to the heart of the story.. so awe-inspiring but so bad for my heart. Can't even manage a standing O now coz am still weak on the knees you know... soooo drained emotionally, but it feels right. soooo right.

Can't even think of any other drama or any other character now.. still devastated with the loss of two of our beloved characters...

Now, where are our awards??!! Best drama, best actor, best fri-enemies awards-- am so counting on you.

'Til the next compelling drama! ^_*

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The drama I will remember forever.

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damn i saw the drama last night and even now just reading your recaps made want to cry again *and i did*

i don't really have anything to say that GF and JB didn't already wrote it before but yeah this was one of the best endings i saw, oh and the part when the population was marching against the police it reminded me of "V for Vendetta" where everyone uses the same mask (but i know they're completely different stories)

thanks GF and JB for recapping this drama for us, you girls are amazing.

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first of all, thx jb n gf for recapping the series.

such a great drama n love the ending. shunji finally see the light after seeing the wedding pictures, that what really made him letting go of his obsession (since he still blame kang to for mokdan death before) n feel the impact of what he's done. his redmption came from killing himself.

will miss joo won n gaksital.

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Also, I wanted to ask - what was the accident in the set of Gaksital? I believe, Park Hui Seok was mentioned at the beginning of this last episode.

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He was a 49 year old extra who was killed on his way to the set in a bus accident. It was very controversial because he was not working on contract and the production company would not admit to it being an "industrial accident". His was and child protested in front of KBS headquarters. Very sad and ironic because of the themes presented in Bridal Mask.

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Bridal Mask is exciting from start to finished no question. The writer does a great job pushing this drama to be emotionally intense and powerful overall.

Hands down to the writer and director.

A brilliant story but the thing lacking with Bridal Mask is the weird and laughable shooting runs. I mean why would japanese soldier won't shoot while bridal mask is throwing daggers on first row of soldiers? Throwing dagger is faster than clicking a gun? Oh Common! the soldier on the back row just watched him doing the action karate chop and the soldiers just waited to be karatechop by KT. All throughout the show mostly all action scene seems fake and laughable. That is so degrading to japanese police at that time but i just reminded myself this is just drama. Dodging bullets is forgivable but at that range between the shooter and KT is crazy dodging. The action scene is one sided! Only KT has better karate compare to villains and the show didn't show us how he did manage to get to that level of karate. Shunji was the one who taught him and his better than his teacher?

Overall the story is 10/10. The action scene 3/10. :P

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Maybe that's why Japan lost the war? j/k

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I am not very well versed in action scenes but I do like all the action scenes in Bridal Mask. It looked real without using much of the wire. The fighting scenes between Kinpei and Gaksital and between KT and Shunji were not only intense but full with emotions.

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LOL atleast fighting scene in BM is more realistic than for example, city hunter. At least Kang TO not always win fighting against his opponent.

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is gov wada a bad person? how come he was not punished by gaksital? i think only kishokai is bad and not the japanese police like konno? do you think gaksital will hate konno? because konno is against corrupt people? if he was the president, would there be peace?

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Konno is still a Japanese Imperial and in the end would have been a target of Gaksital. The story isn't "over" yet...it is for us, but I'm sure that Wada is a target of Gaksital in "that world"

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So sad at the decimation of some many families. All the Kimuras - dead. All of Kang-to (except for himself)'s family - dead, Damsari's family - dead. ; _ ; I was expecting Mok Dan to sacrifice herself, but I was thinking Rie would have done the same (physically, since she's already politically sacrificed herself..) so pleasantly and happily surprised she get reborn. Didn't want Shunji to die, but it may be the best for his poor soul. A great cathartic ending in all -- with buckets of tears and gasps.

Thank you JB and GF for doing the recaps at the expense of your heart beats shooting up and down.

Wondering if anyone knows where to find the Gaksital manhwa? I'm curious to see how it was presented originally (also to fix my Gaksital crave >.> )

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You can buy the manhwa book on Gmarket, Korea's catch-all version of Amazon.com or eBay. Here's the English site: http://english.gmarket.co.kr/ Make sure you search for 각시탈. If you use English search terms "Bridal Mask" or "Gaksital" it won't show any results.

You can use PayPal or credit cards to pay and a lot of sellers offer free (or low price) international shipping. Just please don't get too addicted to Gmarket. It's easy to do. :)

I saw in one forum somewhere (why didn't I write it downnnn?!) that the show Bridal Mask was actually based on *two* manhwa series. Anyone know the name of the second series? If I remember what I read correctly, that's where the name Lee Kangto actually came from?

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Thought I posted a reply but it didn't go through maybe? Or maybe there are rules against posting link to commercial websites. Anyway, you can get it on Gmarket, Korea's equivalent to Amazon or eBay. Go to the English version of the site but search for the manhwa using the Korean spelling of Gaksital. They'll ship internationally and you can use PayPal or a credit card.

I read on Soompi that this is actually based on two manhwas by Heo Youngman? I guess the other one was called "쇠퉁소" Swetongso, or Iron Bamboo Flute, and some of the Drama is based on this manhwa too. I haven't been able to turn it up yet, but I'm not sure it's actually available in print.

Some info about the author. I had to let Google Translate work its magic for me to read it. http://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%ED%97%88%EC%98%81%EB%A7%8C

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Thanks for telling me about the site. I promise not to get too addicted.. gotta save money! *mumbles* to feed the drama addiction.

So interesting about Swetongso. I didn't know there was a second manhwa series the show was based on. And reading what I find of it, I can see that they used Gaksital's characters and main plot points (thus the naming), and Swetongso's minor points like weapon choice, etc. What's interesting is that Heo's English wiki doesn't even mention his 1982 Swetongso, but mentions others so perhaps it's not as well known. Also the author's bio shows that he had to go through similar family strife as Lee Kang-to and grew up during that rebellious period too. Kinda puts the whole show in perspective.

Basically thanks. I've always been a manga and manhua fan. So you (and Gaksital) may have kickstarted my interest in manhwas.

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My favourite pairings:
1. Shunji + Kang-to
2. Shunji + Rie
Especially for the second pair, I really appreciate the mutual understanding between the two. The final phone call was bittersweet; the quiet moments, Rie's astuteness and her willingness to believe in Shunji, and Shunji ready to accept his fate...

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This was an amazing drama. I found myself happy then sad then mad then happy again. I was going through an emotional roller coaster while watching this drama. You know a drama is good if you still think about each episode the following day after you've watched it.

However the scene with everyone wearing a mask reminded of the amazing American movie V for Vendetta. The drama and this movie have quite a few similarities so i recommend it to anyone who liked this drama.

heres the trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxyUl9M_7vc

I really like these kind of shows and Gaksital will stand out among the rest because of how it handled relationships.

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also the anime Code Geass is a great show, that is even more similar to Gaksital because it has the plot of two best friends on different sides.

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What a great drama!
I love the the friendship between LKT and KS. even they turn on to enemies, they both keen about their the beautiful moments!
JW and PKW are very good actors. they manage to cover the weakness in JSY (Mok Dan) . Who did tell her that she can act @[email protected]!!!!!!!!!??????!!!!

Thanks to JB and GF for the recaps

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Thankyou DB for the always fantastic recaps - I love your side comments - it makes the recaps even more interesting!

The drama is absolutely fantastic - in all aspects. Aside from the leads, the minor roles were great - it's like a Hollywood production where even the 'extras' stand out.

I studied Japanese history in Aust (a part of my Arts degree) and it is awful. Of course the context was written from the Allied's point of view. My grandpa was totally against me taking up this subject as he was a victim during WWII. He told me numerous horror stories how he as a young boy had to flee China during the Japanese invasion.

Although we are taught to 'forgive', but we shall never forget and such dramas remind us that our ancestors fought for a better future - for us. Now.
It is important that we all know about the facts of the past - and not tamper with historical events. When I went to Japan and visited Hiroshima - I went to a museum (can't remember the name) and it recorded the event of the A bombings. The way that the event was written sounded as if they were the victims of the 'Western' world attack. Young Japanese were not given the full story of WWII. We have to learn to say sorry if we did wrong - how hard is that?

I also believe there are evil and good people in all race. Let's not forget 'Schindler's List'. This movie really touched me - a German who tried his best to save the Jews.

I wonder if this drama will be aired in Japan?

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Wonderful ending; awesome and profound.

Even though this is all fictional, I love such stories because they remind us about what history books don't; those personal stories and sacrifices that made history.

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Wow.

First off thank you javabeans and gf for your recaps and comments. It enhanced my enjoyment of the drama to know a bit more about the historical and cultural background.

Second - brilliant finale. I really loved that Kang To answered Rie's question from ep 20. If the same situation arose as in the Gisaeng House would he still save her again even after knowing she tried to kill Mok Dan?

Shunji's suicide - so sad but so beautiful. Although I knew he had to die I kind of wished he would live and change back to his old self somehow. He was like (actually probably worse than) Kang To was at the beginning but Kang To was able to be redeemed. All through the ep 24 I was wondering what would happen if somehow Shunji was made to put on the Bridal Mask - could he be saved too? I think it could, make for an epic season 2.

The last scene - very poignant. I like that the it was highlighted throughout the series that independence and change is only possible because of the 'little' people, the public who do their bit. This often gets forgotten in history such as the contribution of the many black people who fought against slavery.

Third - Gaksital has made it onto the number 2 spot on my all time top Kdrama list (number 1 belongs to Tree With Deep Roots).

Thanks again, it's been a great ride :)

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