100 Days My Prince: Episode 16 (Final)
Things look bleak as the crown prince’s enemies close in, leaving him no choice but to walk straight into their trap to save the woman he loves. But Yul isn’t alone anymore – he has friends and people who care about him, and they’re willing to help him even when he doesn’t know he needs the help. Hang on, because this show has some surprises left before the story ends.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Minister Kim tells Yul that war has broken out, and it’s his duty to save the nation and his people. Yul is aware this is a trap, but Minister Kim tells him that he must walk into that trap, because he has Yoon Yi-seo.
Yul pretends not to know the name, but Minister Kim isn’t fooled. He offers to send Hong-shim’s hand to Yul as proof that he has her. Yul threatens to cut Minister Kim’s throat, but Minister Kim tells him that Hong-shim will be killed if anything happens to him, and to get her back, Yul must forget the secret he learned (about So-hye’s baby).
The Jurchens are demanding a ransom for the citizens they’ve kidnapped, to be personally delivered by the king. Although they’re in a war with the Ming Empire, they believe that Joseon incited the Ming Empire to attack them.
The king volunteers Minister Kim to go clear up the misunderstanding, but Minister Kim says humbly that he’s not powerful enough. He suggests that Yul go to the battlefield and handle things instead.
Yul begins his search for Hong-shim at Je-yoon’s home, but Dad says she left that morning. Guard Kwon shows up to take Yul back to the palace while Je-yoon offers to search for Hong-shim. When Yul learns what’s happening, he volunteers to go to the battlefield. He says that he believes Minister Kim instigated the war in order to personally profit, but the king argues that that’s even more reason to keep Yul home.
He begs Yul to explain why Minister Kim tried to kill him and why Yul isn’t going after him, but Yul can’t tell him yet or people could get hurt. He knows that Minister Kim is planning a trap for him, but he tells his father that he intends to walk into it.
Which brings us back to the downpour where we first met Yul, as he thinks about what he couldn’t tell the king — that Minister Kim is waiting with Hong-shim at the battlefield. He rides out to the battlefront, but on the way he’s stopped by Je-yoon, who begs him not to go. Yul says that he knows he’ll be killed if he goes, but he goes anyway, telling Je-yoon to wait for a message.
He arrives at a village that’s been under siege, where civilian bodies lie dead in the streets. He’s surrounded by soldiers, but he holds his own against them. After a few moments Je-yoon joins him, saying that he thought Yul really wanted him to follow him by the way he was looking at him, but Yul denies any such thing.
Minister Kim is in a meeting, planning an ambush to kill Yul and frame the Jurchens for his death. He tells his man to to go meet with the Ming Empire and to let him deal with Yul, since they have personal matters to settle.
Yul and Je-yoon make it to the front line, where they’re shown one of the arrows used by the Ming soldiers against the Jurchens. There’s no doubt the arrows were supplied by Joseon, probably by Minister Kim himself.
Yul is told that Minister Kim went to the Ming camp to get the ransom money demanded by the Jurchens. He’s given a letter from Minister Kim, supposedly from the Jurchens, ordering Yul to go to their fortress alone the following day.
Later, Je-yoon finds him staring at the stars and asks if he’s worried about the hostages, or just one woman. Yul asks if Je-yoon prefers rain or falling petals, adding, “It’s a roundabout way of saying that was a stupid question.” LOL — Yul, never change.
Je-yoon warns Yul that there’s no evidence that Minister Kim has Hong-shim. Yul asks Je-yoon what he would do, and Je-yoon admits that he would still go, but he also says he has a bad feeling and asks Yul not to go.
But in the morning, Yul enters the fortress alone. At first he sees nobody around, but soon he spots the body of a woman who looks like Hong-shim lying on the ground. He goes to her, but it’s a stranger, and while he’s distracted, Minister Kim approaches.
With fake sorrow, Minister Kim tells Yul that he’ll die before he ever sees Hong-shim again. Yul is surrounded by Minister Kim’s men, and he taunts Minister Kim for bringing so many assassins to kill one prince. But he sneers that he doesn’t plan to fall in the same trap twice, and draws his sword.
That’s the cue for his own men to pop up on the surrounding roofs and shoot down the assassins. More than half of them are killed, the remaining assassins surrender, and Yul orders Minister Kim arrested for murdering him, starting a war, and endangering the people of Joseon.
With a cocky swagger, Minister Kim picks up a sword and approaches Yul. After ordering his archers not to shoot, Yul parries Minister Kim’s attack, and the two fight for a minute before Yul manages to slice Minister Kim’s arm and make him drop his sword.
Yul turns his back to tell his men to tie up Minister Kim. Minister Kim reaches into his clothes and staggers towards Yul, but Guard Kwon sees him and gives the archers an order. Minister Kim is struck by several arrows, and he stumbles into Yul, pressing a note into Yul’s hand as he collapses to his knees.
With the last bit of his strength, he gasps, “I never intended to go on living the miserable life you want me to lead,” before lying down to die.
Nearby, assassin Hyuk informs Hong-shim that it’s all over. We see that he’d found her crying over Moo-yeon’s body, and she’d asked him why he let Moo-yeon be killed. Hyuk had told her that he didn’t know what Moo-yeon had planned, only that he’d asked him to protect his sister.
They had buried Moo-yeon, then Hyuk had offered to take Hong-shim to the house Moo-yeon bought. But Hong-shim had said with firm resignation that she was going to Minister Kim to end this once and for all. Now she watches Yul standing over Minister Kim’s body, both of them looking a little stunned, but relieved that his reign of terror is finally over. Yul tells Je-yoon to find Hong-shim, knowing that she’s nearby.
He goes looking for Hong-shim himself, and finds her consoling a small girl whose mother was killed and father was taken away. Hong-shim tells the girl that her father will come home because the crown prince is brave and smart, and here to help.
She sends the girl to the magistrate’s office, then turns to see Yul. He’s calm as he says he was worried Minister Kim had hurt her, and asks why she came here.
Hong-shim says that she didn’t come for him, and he apologizes for the loss of her brother. He offers to reinstate her social class so that she can live as Yoon Yi-seo, and also says that she can be a single woman again, like she was before they married.
She thinks about Moo-yeon telling her that the crown princess’s baby isn’t Yul’s, though he wasn’t sure if Yul remembered that. She had asked if Moo-yeon came back to Hanyang to kill Yul, but he’d told her, “I returned to protect the woman I love and her child. She is not the crown princess to me… she is only a young lady by the name of So-hye.”
Now Hong-shim asks Yul not to forgive her, taking on the blame of Moo-yeon’s betrayal with So-hye. Yul responds that on the day of his father’s coup, he lost his mother and the girl he loved, and that she lost her father because of him. Hong-shim says it’s all in the past, and she tells Yul to forget her now.
She starts to leave, but Yul asks if that’s all she has to say. He asks why she can’t say she loves him, practically begging her to say she wants to be with him. Choking back tears, Hong-shim says she can’t give him the answer he wants, then leaves.
King Neungseon is greatly relieved when he learns that Yul is fine and Minister Kim is dead. Yul sends him the letter that Minister Kim handed to him before he died, which turns out to be the paper that Minister Kim coerced the king into stamping, giving Minister Kim the ability to order literally anything at all.
It says, “Minister Kim Cha-eon will pay for his sins with his life. His children will not be punished for his sins. This is the king’s command.” Furious, the king considers ignoring this edict, since Minister Kim is dead and can’t enforce it.
Before he left the palace, Yul had found So-hye drowning in grief, and he’d refused to allow her to starve herself to death. He’d told her that the woman he’s loved all his life is the sister of the man So-hye loved, so he won’t let her baby die. In parting, he told her to live and that he’d decide what to do with her once he returned from the war.
Prince Seowon is the one who delivers the news to So-hye that her father is dead. She says that she really might not survive, anticipating punishment as a traitor. The prince leads her from her rooms, but they’re stopped by the king, and Seowon says that they’re on their way to see Queen Park.
Approaching So-hye, King Neungseon growls that he knows of her sin, and asks if she thinks she’ll survive after such a betrayal. Terrified, So-hye shakes and says nothing.
At the battlefront, Yul is a force to be reckoned with as he viciously mows down Jurchens. The story of his heroic battle makes its way back to Songjoo village, where Gu-dol enthralls the neighbors with a highly embellished retelling. He says that Yul rescued all the hostages, then returned to the palace, only to find that his crown princess had committed suicide because she was pregnant with another man’s child.
Nearby, a voice intones, “Am I the only one feeling uncomfortable right now?” It’s Soo-ji, dressed in peasant clothes, and he asks them to stop talking about the crown princess. Gu-dol is a watchman now and Soo-ji is his charge, and awww, Kkeut-nyeo is pregnant!
Ma-chil is dressed in silks as befitting his new position as head merchant, and he says he’s going on a buying trip to Ming. Soo-ji tells him to take a message to Lord Noh to rescue him, but Ma-chil quips that there’s nobody to rescue, since Soo-ji is officially dead.
Curious, Soo-ji asks what happened to the woman Yul loved. We cut to Hong-shim, her hair down as befitting a single woman, meeting a handsome young nobleman in the forest. He gives her a cheeky grin and says that his heart fluttered while waiting for her.
He says that since they’re going to grow old together, they should have some fun, and he pulls her close. Hong-shim grabs his hand and twists it until he and lets go, then hollers for backup. Town Official Park runs over, dressed as magistrate, and orders his men to grab the nobleman, who it turns out is a serial rapist. Yikes.
Hong-shim teases now-Magistrate Park for still talking like a town official, and he’s all You should talk, a noble lady taking on a vicious criminal! But her reinstated noble status doesn’t put food on the table, so Hong-shim requests her payment, and Magistrate Park flees to get out of paying her. Cute.
Hong-shim is still living in her old house and running the Solution Agency, though she has a nicer sign now. The cherry tree is gone, but the flowers that Yul planted last year are in full bloom. She remembers his promises to stay with her forever, including the one he made with a kiss.
Dad doesn’t understand why Hong-shim insists on living like this when she’s a noblewoman again. She says she doesn’t want to leave him, but he knows that’s not the reason she won’t leave this house, so she snaps that he’s right, she can’t stop thinking about Yul.
Magistrate Park has Hong-shim’s attacker dragged to jail and orders a servant to bring him paper and ink to write to the prince. HAHA, it’s Master Park, now stripped of his noble status, who meekly complies but grumbles to himself that one day, he’ll be reinstated and get revenge.
At the palace, Yul has been put in charge of most matters concerning the country. He holds his own mini-courts and makes decisions regarding the country. Minister Jung mentions that Yul still hasn’t remarried after six whole months, and it hasn’t rained in three months.
Yul says that last year he made all the single citizens marry, but it didn’t rain. Minister Jung says uncomfortably that an unrepeatable rumor is spreading about Yul, so Yul snaps, “Then don’t repeat it.” He tells the ministers to find a solution regarding the drought by tomorrow.
In private, he jokes with Je-yoon, who is now his personal adviser, that he has no time to be lonely because Je-yoon is always there. Je-yoon quips that he’s lonely, so Yul offers him to give him more work, and Je-yoon is all HAHAHAHA-no.
He’s bodyslammed by Eunuch Yang, who reports that a meeting with the Sungkyunkwan students has been canceled because Yul insists on wearing his old ratty robes. When Yul refuses to have new ones made, Eunuch Yang reminds him of what he’s been through for him by coughing dramatically until Yul relents. PFFT.
We see why Yul has been avoiding the royal tailor — she has an obvious crush on him, and uses the process of measuring him to get all handsy. Eventually Yul figures out that the king sent her to seduce him and forbids her to touch him again.
He goes to the king to protest the steady stream of ladies and maids his father has been throwing at him. King Neungseon is the picture of innocence as he says he was sure Yul would like the tailor, but then he blows up, saying that he’s embarrassed that Yul doesn’t seem interested in women.
Yul reminds his father that he already loves someone, but the king yells that he only loves, and doesn’t do anything to continue the family line. When he notices Yul’s sheepish expression, the king gasps in horror, “Were you… rejected??” Yul reluctantly admits that yeah, he was rejected, but that he’s waiting for her to come around.
The king calls Yul in front of the ministers to announce that he’s ready to hand over the throne, coughing and pretending to be sick and saying that he plans to head to the mountains to recover. But before he goes, he issues a proclamation that everyone must be married by the end of the month, no exceptions, even those of royal blood. Oh no, not this again.
Minister Jung and Queen Park have one of their meetings that do nothing, just to complain about the king’s proclamation. The queen believes the unrepeatable rumor — that Yul spends all of his time with Je-yoon, which must mean he prefers men.
She goes all giddy thinking about Yul stepping down so that Seowon can finally become crown prince, so she tells Minister Jung to have his brother seduce Yul and get evidence. Oh pu-leeze. Minister Jung says that he’s not fond of his brother but he knows Je-yoon’s not into guys.
The king walks in and interrupts their plotting, ordering them to let it go. He rolls his eyes when Queen Park says she’s just worried about Yul, and he tells her to focus on him from now on so that he can enjoy life after he steps down. He orders Minister Jung to take a hint and get lost, and pulls his queen into his arms.
Later, he tells Yul that he’s been stuck on the throne for years, so much that his butt is covered in sores. Yul squints at him, offended that his father would force him into marriage for a frivolous reason. But the king says that the crown has always been a burden he wasn’t strong enough to bear, so much that he even envied Minister Kim for his strength.
He says that Yul has the strength and authority, because it’s not the power he cares about. He tells Yul to be the king he wants to be remembered as in the history books, since what’s inside is more important than what people think of him.
In the morning Eunuch Yang delivers a letter from Je-yoon. It says that he’s taking a three-day vacation to obey the king’s orders — he’s heading to Songjoo village to get married. Eunuch Yang mutters that Yul is slow and destined to lose his love to another man, and will probably be the only king never to get married and live like a eunuch. Ha, Yul throws the letter at him.
Prince Seowon walks in the countryside until he arrives at a little cottage. So-hye sits outside, staring up at the sky as she recalls the day Moo-yeon told her the story of the dandelions. A woman brings her young son, and she narrates that she named her son Seok-ha because she wanted to remember the name that would otherwise be forgotten.
After Hong-shim dreams that Kkeut-nyeo will have a girl, Gu-dol says he’s glad it’s not a boy who would look like him — because obviously he’d be so handsome that girls would never leave him alone (cue blank stares). On her walk home, Hong-shim runs into Je-yoon, who unceremoniously asks her to marry him.
Before she can get over her shock, they’re summoned to the magistrate’s office. There are several more spinsters and bachelors this time around, and Hong-shim and Je-yoon are the oldest. Je-yoon is more than happy to get hitched to Hong-shim per royal decree, but Hong-shim grumbles that there’s no drought this year.
Magistrate Park explains that this is happening because the crown prince isn’t married yet, and suddenly a voice calls out, “Am I the only one who’s uncomfortable right now?” Yul is here! He says he’s uncomfortable with this match-up, giving Hong-shim a level glare, but he also says that those present must obey the king’s orders… including himself.
The addition of Yul means there’s more men than women, so Magistrate Park tells the men to close their eyes, and the women to stand in front of the man they like. Nobody chooses Yul, not even Hong-shim, but he decides that the women were just too scared to stand in front of him (he stops to scowl at Eunuch Yang and Guard Kwon, who are having giggle fits).
Je-yoon walks Hong-shim home and tells her about a spring night when he was feeling resentful towards his concubine mother, and hating himself for it. But then he saw someone and fell in love at first sight, and he wanted to tell the girl how he felt. Hong-shim says with regret that he won’t be able to win that girl’s heart, but Je-yoon says that love is about giving, not receiving.
He notices Yul lurking nearby, so he whispers to Hong-shim to stand still, and he takes her hand and holds it to his face, This has Yul pulling him aside to remind him of how much he loves Hong-shim, and Je-yoon says that’s why he’s doing this. He threatens to propose to Hong-shim for real if Yul doesn’t win her this time. Cue another black scowl from Yul.
Yul finds Hong-shim at her father’s grave, and he also places a stone onto the pile, saying that he wants to make a wish that the woman he loves would stay by his side. Hong-shim says that he would be unhappy if she did, because her past would cause problems for him. But Yul says he’s more unhappy without her.
Hong-shim says it’s not real love if they can’t smile at each other, and that she can’t forget that she and her brother have both hurt him. She believes that someone will use that information to attack him one day, but Yul counters that if he has to give up love to secure a position, then he doesn’t want the position.
Hong-shim says he’d be better as a wise king than just a husband to one woman. Giving up, Yul agrees to return to the palace, but first he asks her to find a bundle of books he lost while rushing to the village. Hong-shim finds the bundle relatively quickly, and they turn out to be Yul’s diaries, which she can’t help but leaf through.
While reading Yul’s diary entries from the past year, Hong-shim sees how he thinks of her and longs for her every day. On the anniversary of their wedding, he’d written, “There are two paths in life — one is to believe that nothing is a miracle, and the other is to believe that everything is a miracle. I look back at the hundred days I spent as your husband. Now I know that every moment was a miracle.”
Crying, Hong-shim wraps up the diaries and runs to find Yul, but Gu-dol and Kkeut-nyeo tell her that he had urgent business at the palace and left. Hugging the diaries, Hong-shim trudges home to sit in her yard, bereft.
But Yul shows up in front of her, and he says that the crown prince left… “But Won-deuk is still here.” Hong-shim says he doesn’t look much like Won-deuk, but Yul tells her to look closer, and as they both look carefully at each other, they start to smile.
Up on the roof, Dad, Magistrate Park, Gu-dol, and Kkeut-nyeo take their cue and start tossing cherry blossom petals down onto the couple. Okay, that is adorable! Hong-shim wonders where the petals came from when it’s not even Spring, and Yul is all, “Oh look, you found my books!” Hee.
Hong-shim admits that she read them, and she asks him to stop writing heartbreaking stories. Yul says that this evening, he plans to write, “I proposed to the woman I yearned for all my life. The woman smiled and nodded. Come what may, I will spend my remaining days with her.”
He holds out a hand and asks Hong-shim to come with him to the palace. Hong-shim asks if that was his marriage proposal, but he says he’ll do it properly. He takes her hand, pulls her close, and kisses her, while the cherry blossoms rain down around them.
Such a sweet ending – it wasn’t perfect, but it left me with a feeling of contentment, knowing that Hong-shim and Yul will rule happily and with much love in their lives. I was worried that palace life wouldn’t be a good ending for them, but the palace is a much lighter, more relaxed place with Minister Kim gone and Yul in charge. I think that the addition of Hong-shim and the love she brings to Yul’s life will only improve the happy atmosphere. It was a little bit twee for everyone to get a happily ever after, from the good guys like Dad (who ended up with Yang-choon and a baby on the way), to characters who don’t really deserve it, like Queen Park (it was even hinted that So-hye and Prince Seowon might end up together eventually). But considering that I originally expected this to be a lighthearted rom-com, I’m fine with the ending as it is.
I have wondered for a long time how Hong-shim would act towards Yul once she learned that his father is responsible for her father’s death. It was interesting that she never held bad feelings towards Yul for that, but instead felt her own familial guilt because of her brother betraying Yul by getting Yul’s wife pregnant. In a way, the two associated wrongs balanced each other out… each of them had a family member do wrong by the other, so it put them back on even footing. This wasn’t necessary for their eventual happiness — either would have easily forgiven the other — but it did smooth things out a little so that neither of them had to be forgiven in order for them to move forward together.
100 Days My Prince always suffered from pacing issues — in fact, I’d say pacing was its biggest weakness, which is a shame and really inexcusable in a pre-produced drama. I’ll never complain about how much of the sweet romance part of the story we were given, but I feel as though the drama would have been better overall if it had explained the palace intrigues and the who’s-the-father question a bit more clearly, and skimmed some of the unnecessary village silliness to make room for smoother storytelling. The middle section of the show was fun, with Yul learning to act like a real person and falling in love with Hong-shim, but we spent so much time on it that the ending felt rushed.
I do have one major complaint… while I felt that Jo Sung-ha did a great job with the role of Minister Kim as it was given to him, now that it’s all over I’m left feeling as though the character was under-explained, and worse, underwhelming. The only reason we were ever given for his greed for power was that he didn’t want to end up starving and destitute, but he was a rich nobleman with a very high position in the king’s court, whose daughter was in line to be queen. So was it really ever a possibility that he would become poor? There was no reason for Minister Kim to ever think he’d end up in poverty, so I found his reasoning for his power-grabbing to be extremely weak. And without a valid purpose to his scheming, he always seemed more confusing than menacing. His final act of sacrifice — his life for his children’s lives — also felt out-of-character, since he never cared about them before.
However, I did find this finale adorable once we got past the necessary war stuff, and I thought it was fun that the tone recalled the lighter middle section of the drama, where everything was just solid cuteness. I liked seeing that feeling extend to the palace, where everything was much more light-hearted once Minister Kim was gone and Yul was no longer married to a woman he hates. Seeing him joke around with Je-yoon and Eunuch Yang (and watching those two butt heads) was just plain fun and makes me wish we could have eschewed the dramatic parts altogether and made this show a straight-up rom-com. Although it had issues, in general I thought that 100 Days My Prince was sweet and fun, and I’ll never complain about getting to see Do Kyung-soo or Nam Ji-hyun in any romance story… they both bring something unique to their characters, and I’m never bored watching them act. I won’t remember this drama as one of the great ones, but I’ll certainly remember it as a sweet, heartwarming story that was well worth the watch.