Live Up to Your Name: Episode 16 (Final)
Grab a tissue box (or two) and buckle up, because this last hour is a doozy! Our couple has been through a lot together, but now they must face the ultimate test: being apart. Whenever time travel is involved, relationships become all the more tricky, and we’ve known from the start that sacrifices would have to be made. The question is, will Im and Yeon-kyung’s decision to let each other go be their final act of love? Or will that magical thread of fate pull through one last time?
FINAL EPISODE RECAP
We open on Im pumping up and down vigorously while Yeon-kyung’s voice barks at him to push harder. The noise can be heard downstairs, where Jae-sook and Byung-ki listen quizzically. Joining them, Grandpa wonders if Im and Yeon-kyung are fighting.
In actuality, Yeon-kyung is teaching Im how to perform CPR by using a dummy. He whines when she quizzes him on the procedure, coyly suggesting that she let him demonstrate on her instead. Brushing him aside, Yeon-kyung remains focused on the lesson, and Im pouts. He demands to know why he needs to learn this and Yeon-kyung rounds on him, arguing that it’s worth learning when it can save more lives.
Smiling, Im gently points out that he’s capable of saving lives without CPR, and when Yeon-kyung starts to argue, he leans in for a quick peck on the lips. He draws back with a smile, but Yeon-kyung flashes back to the previous night at Namsan Tower.
She had urged him to return, because while Seoul was not at war and had no shortage of doctors, medicine, or food, Joseon needed his help desperately. All she had asked was that he gave her three days before he went.
In the present, Im plays with his phone while Yeon-kyung pours over stacks of books and sticky notes. Holding two up, she begins to ask which Im would rather do first, but she stops when her eyes fall on Im’s phone, where he has sketched a young woman in traditional clothes. Initially jealous, Yeon-kyung criticizes Im’s taste and lists off the woman’s faults, only to backpedal when Im tells her that the drawing is of her. Hee.
They bicker over which sticky note event to do, finally choosing a movie, and they cuddle close as an old black-and-white film plays. The next event involves grocery shopping, and the two squabble loudly as they put on their shoes. Then shove each other on their way out the door as the bewildered Hyemninseo household looks on. Wait, is the objective to have a lover’s quarrel? Ha!
Still at each other’s throats, Im and Yeon-kyung return home with their haul. They don’t even seem to notice Grandpa & Co. as they argue their way into the house, over dramatically kicking their shoes across the yard.
However, Im and Yeon-kyung are back to normal by the time they proudly present dinner. Jae-sook wonders at the occasion, and Im explains that he had just realized they’d never sat down for a meal together. When asked how the food is, Grandpa and Jae-sook manage to fib, although their expressions betray them when Im and Yeon-kyung look away. Only Byung-ki is brutally honest as he asks if the food is fit for human consumption.
After dinner, Yeon-kyung zips herself up into a beautiful dress, her eyes glistening with tears as she applies some makeup. Im impatiently adjusts his suit and wonders what’s taking her so long, but when she emerges moments later, he can only stare at her with a mixture of awe and sorrow.
Ah! They’re taking family photos! Everyone gathers in front of the camera, and Yeon-kyung shuffles quickly between Grandpa and Im before the timer runs down. They take multiple shots of the entire Hyeminseo crew, and then some of just Grandpa with Yeon-kyung and Im. Finally, only Im and Yeon-kyung remain. After a stiff initial shot, Im and Yeon-kyung make a series of playful poses. Only the final shot reveals the bittersweet nature of the whole affair as the pair stand side by side, smiling through their tears.
That night, Im lies awake, staring at the needle case. When he hears Yeon-kyung step out of her room, he feigns sleep as she lies down beside him. Putting an arm around him, a tear finally escapes her eye. Im opens his own eyes and takes her hand in his as he tries to hold his own tears back.
He finally turns toward her, and they stare at each other a moment before he pulls her into his arms, gently brushing away her tears. He pulls her closer, and she buries her face in his chest to sleep while behind them, another crack forms on the needle case.
The next day, Jae-ha is surprised when Im visits his office. Claiming to have developed shoulder pain from his recent dates with Yeon-kyung, Im sits down for treatment and begs Jae-ha to go easy on him. Jae-ha retorts that he hasn’t even stuck the needle in yet, and Im advises him not to put it there anyway. Jae-ha wonders why Im came if he didn’t trust him, but Im just grumbles good-naturedly about the treatment of an ancestor from a descendant and slyly makes a bid for a refreshment.
Handing Im an iced coffee (which he gleefully sips), Jae-ha notes that they look to be close in age and asks how long Im has been so talented with needles. Im replies that he’s been good since the beginning, but at Jae-ha’s shocked expression, he admits he was only teasing. Because he’s treated so many patients since becoming a doctor, Im is unsure exactly when he became so skilled.
Baffled, Jae-ha asks how many patients Im could’ve possibly treated and is stunned to discover that Im treated dozens of patients a day, sometimes more than a hundred, for ten straight years. In awe, Jae-ha recalls learning that Im lacks fingerprints on his thumb and forefinger. Im replies that you can’t get anything for free, causing Jae-ha to call him a show-off.
Smiling, Im pats Jae-ha on the knee and tells him that he has a good heart and will do well as a doctor. Jae-ha immediately picks up on Im’s intention for this to be a farewell visit and asks about Yeon-kyung. Im asks Jae-ha to look after her, emphasizing that he should do so as a younger brother. Jae-ha smiles ruefully, and Im says he has one more request, but we don’t get to hear it.
Back at the clinic, Grandpa hears sobs coming from Yeon-kyung’s room and lets himself inside. Squatting next to her on the floor, he takes her hand, and Yeon-kyung is unable to pretend she’s okay any longer. She pleads with Grandpa to let her accompany Im, and he cradles her as tears well up in his own eyes.
Meanwhile, Im has overheard everything and stands on the other side of the door weeping, only to be discovered when Grandpa finally emerges. They share a silent moment before Grandpa turns to go into his own room and, taking a deep breath, Im steps into Yeon-kyung’s. She looks up as he enters, and he smiles at her.
Kneeling beside her, Im gently says that he’ll forget her tears and only remember her smile. Taking her hand, he presses the calming acupuncture point while he speaks.
Im: “If you give me what I cannot take there, there is not enough space for what I really should take with me. Your hand that held a scalpel. You in a lab coat. Your heart towards your patients. Those are things I will take with me. Just remember this. My heart that beats… because of you.”
Drying her tears, Im leans in, and they share a gentle kiss. When he pulls back, they stare soulfully into each other’s eyes for a moment before embracing.
Afterward, Im walks around the house, remembering all the times they shared. He eventually makes his way to the yard and thinks of his promise to stay by Yeon-kyung’s side, while she watches from the house.
Finally, dressed in his traditional garb, Im stands outside to say his goodbyes. He tells Jae-sook that he brewed her some tea (for her liver), adding that he thinks Byung-ki is a much better man than her “Chul-soo” that he hasn’t met. He asks her to look after his “mother” and “brother,” which she promises to do. He also tells Byung-ki that women prefer straightforward men and then thanks them both for everything.
Turning to Grandpa, Im drops to the ground and offers a formal bow, but when he starts to speak, Grandpa cuts him off. Undeterred, Im urges Grandpa to be healthy, and Grandpa promises to stay with Yeon-kyung for a long time. Satisfied, Im says goodbye and goes to Yeon-kyung, who is waiting for him.
Pulling Yeon-kyung’s sweater closed around her, Im tells her, “Thank you for joining me in this strange destiny.” Placing a hand over his heart, Yeon-kyung muses that he won’t have to hurt anymore, and taking her hand in his, Im apologizes for not keeping his promise to her. Yeon-kyung replies that she won’t be waiting for him.
Swallowing back his tears, Im tells her goodbye. He turns to go, but Yeon-kyung grabs his hand as he walks past. She struggles for a minute to speak, but then she tells him that he’ll be lonely alone, and that she’ll stay with him.
They stand facing each other as Im pulls out his needle and aims it at his heart. He hesitates, but Yeon-kyung puts her hands over his, and together, they force the needle into his chest. The process is slow and extremely painful for both of them, and Yeon-kyung shakes her head even as she helps Im push the needle further.
Finally, she can’t watch any longer and pulls Im into her embrace. The hold each other for the last time before she releases him, and when the camera pans out, Im has disappeared and Yeon-kyung sinks to the ground. (*sniff*)
It’s raining in Joseon and Im takes deep, raspy breaths as the pain continues to throb in his chest. In both timelines, Im and Yeon-kyung reach out towards each other one more time as tears streak down their faces, both of them crying in anguish.
Cut to: An active battlefield, where Im runs along a wall. A nearby explosion knocks him to the ground and his ears ring as he looks at the carnage around him. He quickly runs over when a soldier is shot, promising to save the man even as many more are slain around them.
Im: “My world where I left you by yourself. This land has become… a land full of death, pain, and screams everywhere. There are more lives that I am not able to save than the ones that I am. I am facing their death and pain like it is my fate. I am weak… in front of war.”
As Im narrates, scenes flash by of him removing a bullet the way he’d seen Yeon-kyung do, walking through the battlefields and kneeling down next to a man only to discover that he’s already dead, holding the hand of a man that’s past the point of saving, and then watching another soldier throw the dead into a fire.
Time passes, and Im’s hair has grown out. Sitting with other exhausted men, he stares at some flowers, and, thinking of Yeon-kyung, he draws a heart on the ground.
Im: “I cannot stop this journey… because there are people who do not give up and wait for me. When I lose a patient and cannot even cry, I think about it. Could we save more patients with the medical technology from your world?”
In the modern day, Yeon-kyung runs into the emergency room as patients arrive. One of them needs immediate surgery, but despite her best efforts, he dies on the operating table. The scenes flash through her asking a different patient to clench their fist, her holding a woman having a fit, and finally, her watching another doctor perform CPR on a patient being wheeled by on a gurney.
Yeon-kyung: “No. There are still a lot of lives we can’t save at this place where medical technology has made great progress. Sometimes, unexplainable miracles happen. However, I know… that those aren’t miracles. As you said, life and death are predestined. Doctors are doing their best every day to prevent a single death in the middle of life or death.”
Snow falls as Im treats soldiers on the frozen battlegrounds. He takes a moment to sit and massage some feeling back into his frigid toes, looking around at the men huddled together against the freezing cold. Taking a bite of a rice ball, we hear his voiceover once more saying, “Are you crying today in your world because you lost someone you must have saved?”
As she sinks down to rest in a hallway, staring at her hands, Yeon-kyung’s voiceover replies, “How many deaths have you faced today in your world?”
In both timelines, Yeon-kyung and Im ask each other if they’re okay.
The war finally over, Im makes his rounds of house calls. After reviving a female slave and promising her anxious husband and son that she’ll recover, Im steels himself for his next patient.
Having contracted an illness during the evacuation, the minister of war has now been reduced to a shadow of his former self. Remembering the horrors inflicted by this man, Im’s expression hardens, but he offers to treat him anyway. The minister is untrusting, but when Im moves to leave, he begs to be saved. Im shakes off the haunting memories and checks the minister’s pulse.
The illness is too advanced for Im to save him, but he does his best to relieve the pain as he thinks back to Doo-chil’s admission that although he knew Im could not save his mother, he had wanted her to feel better before she died. He leaves knowing that he did his best and moves on to the next house on his list.
Back in the present, dishes crash to the floor as a result of a teenage patient’s tantrum. Yeon-kyung arrives and calmly tells the intern to get better food and have someone clean up the mess. The teenage girl huffs, frustrated and embarrassed, and Yeon-kyung leaves with a small smile of satisfaction, fondly touching the bracelet Ha-ra had chosen for her.
That night, the girl’s attempts to sneak out are foiled by the appearance of Yeon-kyung on her way out. Noting the upcoming surgery, Yeon-kyung asks where she’s going. Defensively, the girl says it’s none of Yeon-kyung’s business, asking if she’s going to stop her. Shaking her head, Yeon-kyung says they’ll go together and holds up her car keys enticingly.
Dumbfounded, the girl doesn’t respond, and Yeon-kyung takes the opportunity to send her back for her heart monitor, since it’s the only thing she doesn’t have in her bag.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held at the hospital for the opening of a child cardiology center. Afterward, Director Shin approaches Yeon-kyung to compliment her on her PhD. He praises her hard work and turns to Professor Hwang, who agrees that she’s indispensable.
Director Shin goes on to say that Ha-ra’s mother donated a lot of money and wonders how he should repay Yeon-kyung’s efforts. Replying that it wasn’t for him, but for sick children like Ha-ra, Yeon-kyung humbly requests that Director Shin work hard so that there aren’t any children who can’t get treatment due to lack of money. Director Shin is ruffled by her frankness, but Yeon-kyung says that it’s a message from Ha-ra’s mother.
Having said all she needed, Yeon-kyung excuses herself, and as she walks away, we now see that the banner reads “Donated by Oh Ha-ra” underneath. Smiling, she promises to see her again soon and blows a heart-kiss at the banner.
Outside, Yeon-kyung teases Man-soo about her PhD, but he says he’s happy not to work like her. He thinks that operating on patients everyday is no way to live, and she retorts that a doctor is nothing without patients and operations. When Jae-ha arrives, she runs off to meet him, but not before handing Man-soo a conciliatory candy.
Jae-ha hands Yeon-kyung a wedding invitation for the homeless ajusshi’s son, and we learn that he still visits the homeless at Seoul Station. Apparently, this was Im’s second request, but Jae-ha says that although that’s how he started, he genuinely enjoys going now.
Returning to Joseon, we find Im back at Hyeminseo, where he’s currently treating a patient with a nasty boil. Brandishing a sharp instrument, Im instructs the horrified patient to be still and gleefully punctures the affected area. It’s super gross.
Mak-gae calls for the “superintendant” to come out, and Im grumbles as he steps out to find he has two visitors. Instantly recognizing the Japanese general (who now goes by Kim Chung-seon, and was a real historical figure who defected to Joseon), Im is pleased to also see the Japanese soldier he’d saved. Im tells Chung-seon that he’d heard of a Japanese general defecting with his soldiers but hadn’t realized it was him.
Chuckling, Chung-seon replies that he had also heard of a Korean doctor that had gone to the battlefields and saved many people. Im wonders aloud how they ended up on the same side, and the other man says that they merely chose the life that suited them.
Chung-seon asks how Yeon-kyung is doing, and Im grows wistful as he replies that he thinks she’s doing well. Shocked to discover that they’ve separated, Chung-seon muses that the two of them were beautiful together.
Behind Hyeminseo, Im thinks of Yeon-kyung as he draws a heart in the dirt. When Yeon-yi surprises him from behind and asks about the drawing, Im explains that it’s a heart that symbolizes both the organ and the emotions when you like others. Yeon-yi nods and then asks when she can start learning medicine.
Im starts to tell her that she can when she’s older, but Yeon-yi runs off, and Im is a bit put out to see her cheerfully greeting Heo Jun as he grumbles that he saved her and didn’t get a hug.
Yeon-yi excitedly tells Heo Jun that she’ll become a better doctor than Im, who scoffs and argues that she clearly does not know who he is. But Heo Jun disagrees and says that Im is the superintendent of Hyeminseo… and has been for ten years. Hee.
Im mutters that there’s someone to blame for that, but Heo Jun plays innocent. Im asks why he’s here and discovers that the king has an affliction none of his doctors can treat. Heo Jun says that he recommended Im, though he jokingly wonders aloud if he made the right choice while Im gives him the side-eye.
On his way to see the king, Im is stopped by a man with a dying child. The accompanying royal physician tries to push through, but Im instructs Mak-gae to take them inside. The physician balks at Im’s audacity, but Im points out that the people are the king’s responsibility before walking off to treat the child. With the techniques he learned from Yeon-kyung, Im deftly stitches up the deep wound, saving the boy’s life.
At the palace, the king asks about the child, and when Im confirms that he survived, the king declares the matter dropped. As for Im’s past transgression, Heo Jun speaks up for him, and Im is permitted to administer his treatment.
Thinking back on the war and the king’s cowardly retreat, Im tells the king that ringing in the ears is also called “the crying of the heart” because only the patient knows the pain they’re experiencing. “I hope that the crying of your heart is tears of atonement and consolation for the innocent people who died because of the war,” Im thinks. This time around, Im experiences no tremors, and impressed, the king has Im promoted.
Afterward, Im laments to Heo Jun that this long-awaited promotion was not for saving lives in the war, but for treating a small illness of the king. Sagely, Heo Jun replies, “Important rewards are not given meaninglessly like that. Special gifts visit you when you desperately want it. That is a good reward.”
Regardless, Im says that he’ll catch up with Heo Jun quickly. The latter scoffs that he’s three levels above Im and that their descendants hold him in higher regard, causing them both to laugh.
Producing the candy Yeon-kyung had given him, Heo Jun says that he can’t bring himself to eat it. “They will know how we live,” Heo Jun says, “But we have no way to find out how they live.” He also wonders if Grandpa is okay.
Cutting to modern day Seoul, (former) Director Ma pays Grandpa a visit, along with a bottle of soju. Director Ma jokes that he’s even busier now that he’s unemployed, and Grandpa agrees that he looks healthier. Admitting that it’s thanks to giving up his greed and false reputation, Director Ma takes the opportunity to ask Grandpa for a job. Ha!
Nearby, Jae-sook watches them wistfully, and Byung-ki comments that she only just stopped drinking. She laments that since her liver isn’t hers anymore, she’s drinking with her eyes. Byung-ki titters on about her teas and she wonders aloud if she should still marry him or not, to which he gleefully replies that the invitations have already been printed.
Having successfully finished another surgery, Yeon-kyung looks to Nurse Jung, who shoots her a thumbs up from the viewing room. Smiling, Yeon-kyung returns the gesture, but then her eyes fall on the space to Nurse Jung’s right, where Im had stood and watched her operate on Ha-ra.
Noticing the drop in her mood, Nurse Jung suggests that Yeon-kyung go clubbing. Yeon-kyung asks if Nurse Jung would like to join her, but after an embarrassing display of dance moves by the latter, they decide against it.
Yeon-kyung then asks what she should do when she misses someone. Nurse Jung quickly replies that she should go see them, but upon noting Yeon-kyung’s expression, she amends that when that isn’t possible, she should see them from her heart.
In both timelines, Im and Yeon-kyung sit down to eat by placing their chopsticks behind their ear. Im flashes back to Yeon-kyung telling him to count to 200 for his ramyun while she remembers his promise to return to her before she could count to 200. They both begin counting and think back to the night they shared their first kiss.
Im gives Mak-gae a stack of texts and tells her to study for next year’s medical exam. Pouting, she hugs the books to her chest, and Im tuts that it’s not enough to pick up the skills—she shouldn’t run errands forever. Mak-gae asks about women becoming doctors in Yeon-kyung’s world, muttering that it must be nice. Out of earshot, Im wonders when she’ll be able to live as a woman.
A young boy runs up to offer Im some food as thanks before joyfully greeting Mak-gae. Suddenly, a board collapses beneath one of the medicine racks, sending them toppling over in a domino effect headed straight for Mak-gae.
Pushing the child aside, Im grabs a hold of Mak-gae, shielding her just in time as the collapsing shelf sends them toppling over the side of the pavilion.
While treating the homeless in a temporary medical station, Yeon-kyung looks up… to see Im walking toward her(!). Inspecting his wounds, tears fall down Yeon-kyung’s face as she asks how he injured himself.
He says he was on his way to meet someone, claiming to have fallen off his bike. He admits that he missed her and apologizes for being late, and Heo Jun’s words about rewards can be heard as the camera pans to show the magical needle case, now completely intact and blank once more.
Later, Im asks if Yeon-kyung missed him. Ignoring the question, she asks if he’ll be here for a little while, but Im proclaims that he’s going to live with her, which gets a mixed reception. Suddenly nervous, Im asks if she has a boyfriend, to which she craftily replies that she has many male friends.
Confused, Im tries to sort out whether there’s a difference between a “male friend” or a “boyfriend,” but Yeon-kyung merely asks when he’s leaving as they continue to bicker playfully.
Epilogue. A terrified Mak-gae crawls out of an elevator, only to find herself in the middle of Shinhye Oriental Hospital. Wandering around in awe, she stumbles upon Jae-ha treating a patient. Wincing, she tells him he’s doing it wrong, and when he looks at her in confusion, she defends herself by citing Im’s teachings. Jae-ha recognizes the name, and Mak-gae beams to discover that he knows who she’s talking about. Noting her attire, Jae-ha realizes where she’s come from and lets out a stunned laugh while she surveys him curiously.
Well, that’s all folks. Please check to make sure you have all your belongings with you as you exit the ride. We here at Dramabeans are not responsible for any tears, hearts, voices, or minds you may have lost during the course of the show.
And what a show this was! I can’t say I don’t have any complaints, but they are few, and they don’t detract from the overall positive feelings I have toward this show, which will forever hold a special place in my heart. Any show that can make me feel a real emotional connection with the characters is already a winner in my book, and if the boxes of tissues I went through are any indication, this show did its job.
I’ve said it before, but I really loved the time-travel execution in this show, which felt fresh and was a clearly well thought-out mechanic. We still might not know all the answers about the magic needle case, but the definition of magic allows some questions to be left unanswered, and in this case, that’s okay with me. Although I can’t help but wonder if the restoration of the case means that Im can once again go back and forth, or if it’s waiting for its next owner.
Another huge positive for me was the balance of the show because I felt invested throughout the entire run, regardless of what timeline we were in or which lead we were following around. And the writer’s use of side characters was refreshingly well done, because each served a purpose and none overstayed their welcome (except maybe Jin-oh). And while some might feel the mirroring effect was overdone, I think it worked beautifully with this show.
I loved how Im was faced with the same dilemma over again and this time was able to make the right choice, with no hesitation. It might be a bit on the nose, but it perfectly illustrates how much he’s grown as both a doctor and a person over the course of 16 episodes. As for Yeon-kyung, her trajectory was decidedly more understated but progressive all the same, and I feel like a proud parent as I watch these two ducklings march forth as happier, healthier people.
The entire cast did an outstanding job, especially our leads, who had such strong, natural, chemistry that I doubt anyone would be surprised if news broke tomorrow about a real-life romance. I’ve seen Kim Ah-joong before and been fond of her in her previous roles, but this was my first time watching Kim Nam-gil, and I was blown away. Im is such a delicate character that oscillates between deep, heart-wrenching emotion and unabashed goofiness. In a less talented actor’s hands, his character could have been a cartoonish train wreck, but Kim Nam-gil played him with such a believable finesse that I never once questioned Im’s sincerity… or sanity.
The only complaint I have worth mentioning is that while the ending was fitting and happy, I couldn’t help but wish for a bit more of an emotional payoff. After all those tears shed, for the OTP to reunite without even a kiss? I call poppycock!
On the upside, the epilogue was cute and satisfying, and all in all, I adored this drama from the bottom of my heart. I hope everyone else enjoyed this journey as much as I did. Now to go marathon Kim Nam-gil’s other dramas!
- Live Up to Your Name: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Manhole, Live Up to Your Name
- Acupuncturist versus surgeon for Live Up to Your Name
- Jaw-dropping, club-hopping Kim Ah-joong in Live Up to Your Name
- Kim Nam-gil flaps his wings to travel back to the past in Live Up to Your Name
- The needle vs. the knife for Live Up to Your Name
- Time-slip drama Live Up to Your Name gets a time slot on tvN
- Kim Nam-gil, Kim Ah-joong offered new tvN time-slip drama