Chocolate: Episode 16 (Final)
After the years of misunderstandings that kept them apart, our doctor and chef more deeply appreciate their miraculous connection. Thanks to an unexpected reunion, that bond gets tested once again as our couple’s path to happier-ever-after hits another bump. Our doctor faces a professional challenge, and with the hospice’s future in question, he may be in a unique position to save it.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
Kang catches Cha-young gazing at all of the chocolates inside her favorite store. Cha-young is surprised when he joins her and asks her to recommend the best one.
As they sit in the cafe with their selections, Cha-young reminds Kang that he doesn’t eat chocolate. Kang explains that he feared that eating chocolate would make him homesick for Wando, but that was before he met Cha-young.
Curious about why Kang decided to give up chocolate after his mother died, she asks about her accident. After a few seconds, Kang tells Cha-young that his mother was hit by a car on the way home from buying him chocolates.
Cha-young confesses that she thought that the lady who gave her chocolate might have been his mother and Kang laughs, “You should write novels instead of being a chef.” Kang takes Cha-young’s hand and suggests that they make the best of their lives, in memory of the lady. He changes the topic when he invites Cha-young to his place the next day to celebrate his birthday.
After passing a simulator test at a driving school, Hee-na begs Tae-hyun to take her to see her dream car, which she hopes to buy as soon as she gets her license. They visit a dealership and as they sit inside of a sporty coupe, Tae-hyun is unusually quiet.
Hee-na guesses that he’s worried that she’ll die before she gets her license and tells him, “If I die, then so be it. But I might still be alive.” Hee-na realized that life without plans is pathetic, which is why she plans to get her license.
Hee-na admits that like Tae-hyun, she lived as if she had all the time in the world until she got sick. Hee-na shares another of her goals, after she buys her car she wants to drive to the sea with Tae-hyun.
The sea is where Director Kwon has taken Seon-ae and he smiles when she wades into the waves and squeals. She asks if he needs to get back to work so that the resident from Seoul doesn’t bully him (Seung-hoon?) but Director Kwon informs Seon-ae that he took the day off.
When Seon-ae expresses her happiness, Director Kwon finally realizes that while he worked long hours, she was painfully lonely. Seon-ae gets Director Kwon to agree to spend a day with her in the spring and in the fall and then drags him into the water where they splash around happily.
Over lunch, Seon-ae announces her plan to attend a cooking academy so that Director Kwon can eat something besides instant noodles. When he steps away for an important call, Seon-ae’s memory suddenly returns. Director Kwon returns to an empty table and learns that Seon-ae left after paying the bill.
On the bus ride home, tears trickle down Seon-ae’s cheeks after she sends Director Kwon a text, “After I met you, I was blessed with so much happiness.” Seon-ae promised to never visit Director Kwon again and wished him happiness.
At Geosung Hospital, Seung-hoon protests when Grandma allows Kang to button her coat, “…you didn’t even let Joon touch you.” Kang suggests that Grandma should go back to work but she decides that it’s time to leave the hospital in her family’s hands.
Before Kang can leave the hospital, Hye-mi calls and they meet in a quiet hallway. Hye-mi angrily reminds Kang that Geosung became successful because of the sacrifices that she and Grandma made. Hye-mi blames the many all-nighters that she put in for her two miscarriages and her inability to be a proper mother to Joon.
Hye-mi doesn’t think it should matter that Seung-hoon isn’t her father-in-law’s biological son when Kang’s father gave up everything to run away and get married. Hye-mi’s voice rises when she asks why Kang should get everything, “Do you think this makes any sense at all?” She’s surprised when Kang agrees with her and offers a solution.
Kang calls Joon, who’s still at his pottery studio, to report that he offered Hye-mi a deal — keeps the hospice open and he won’t go after the chairmanship. Joon can’t believe that Kang gave up the chairmanship so easily but then he remembers that his cousin didn’t put up a fight when he was transferred to the hospice.
Joon guesses, “You wanted to stop, didn’t you?” When Kang says nothing, Joon adds, “And I bet the people there ended up changing you.” After they hang up, Joon remembers his time at the hospice and admits, “After all, they ended up changing me as well.”
As Kang walks the hallways of the hospice contentedly, we hear him promise, “Don’t wait for me, Grandma…I’m never going back to that hell you all live in.”
On the hospice grounds, Dae-shik sits on a bench in a daze while Young-shil cries her eyes out in a bathroom. After composing herself, Young-shil returns to Dae-shik but he jumps up to avoid her. When pain forces him to sit down, Young-shil orders Dae-hik to look at her and when he does, he blocks his face with a bowl.
Young-shil takes Dae-shik’s face in her hands to plead, “You said you wanted to go out with me. Then you should look at me in the eyes and do your best to win my heart.” Struggling not to cry, Dae-shik confesses that he doesn’t have much time.
Dae-shik’s face crumples when Young-shil puts her hand on his chest to argue, “You’re breathing right now…Your heart’s beating nice and strong.” Dae-shik sobs that he should have come earlier but Young-shil insists that he’s not too late and wipes aways his tears.
When Dae-shik pushes her away, Young-shil argues that everyone dies, she might even die before him. Dae-shik throws his arms around Young-shil and sobs that someone as kind as her deserves a long life, “Only then can the people who can’t go to heaven learn that an angel really exists.” With tears streaming from her eyes, Young-shil hugs Dae-shik back.
Kang arrives home with groceries and after tidying up his place, he opens his mother’s cookbook and announces, “I’m having a birthday party with my girlfriend today.”
Kang follows his mother’s fried chicken recipe while Cha-young dons her apron at the hospice to bake a cake. When Cha-young gets a call from an unfamiliar number, she’s stunned by the sound of her mother’s voice.
It’s dark outside when Kang turns on the string lights in his living room and he worries that Cha-young forgot about his birthday. When the doorbells rings, Cha-young apologizes for being late and holds up a bottle of wine and a cake as Kang smiles happily.
When they sit down to eat, Kang gushes over the beautiful cake while Cha-young can’t take her eyes off of the fried chicken, which reminds her of her father. Kang confesses that he has butterflies because Cha-young looks particularly pretty and she bashfully admits to wearing makeup and her best dress.
Cha-young gets the celebration underway when she lights Kang’s birthday candle. Kang closes his eyes and says, “Thank you for blessing me…,” but Cha-young protests that’s not a proper wish. Kang insists that he already has everything that he wants and blows out his candle. Kang suggests that it’s time for Cha-young to stop calling him Dr. Lee. After they kiss, he asks if he can speak comfortably to her as well and when Cha-young doesn’t protest, they kiss again.
After dinner, Cha-young empties her glass of wine and turns to Kang, “Should we run away together?” When Kang asks where they’re going, Cha-young suggests somewhere no one can find her.
Kang agrees, “I can do that. Let’s go,” and he runs to get a scarf for Cha-young, in case it’s cold wherever they go. Cha-young thanks him for agreeing so readily and confesses that she’s been running away from her mother all day. Cha-young explains that even though her mother is a horrible person, she’s agreed to meet her. Kang takes Cha-young’s hand and promises, “We’ll just have to elope next time.”
The next day, Kang watches from the doorway of a church while Cha-young prays. She goes from there to a restaurant to meet her mother and when Cha-young says, “It’s been awhile,” her mother snaps, “What kind of response is that? Am I your client or what?”
Mom orders the most expensive steak on the menu and while she eats, Cha-young takes issue with the fact that she looks happy after causing so much misery. Cha-young’s mother argues that her targets were so stupid that it was only a matter of time before they were swindled. Mom reminds Cha-young that her father lost his fortune when he helped out a friend, which is when she realized, “You either get stabbed in the back or stab someone in the back.”
Seated at a nearby table, Kang overhears Cha-young remind her mother that she abandoned her at that collapsed department store. That’s where Cha-young met the lady who saved her life, and she tells her mother, “I learned what life is about from that lady.” But Mom calls Cha-young a fool for wasting her time cooking for the dying.
Cha-young confesses it was that lady’s example that led to their reunion because she was hopeful that her mother was sorry for all of the pain that she’s caused. Cha-young realizes how wrong she was when Mom asks, “What are you talking about?”
A man interrupts, calling Cha-young’s mother “Honey,” to warn that one of her victims is on his way with the police. Mom grabs her things and promises to call later but Cha-young won’t have it, “Don’t call me. I won’t answer.” Cha-young suggests meeting again in ten years to see which of them is living well.
After Mom runs off, Cha-young gets a text, “Do you want me to hold your hand?” When Cha-young sees Kang, he sends another text explaining that he was worried and somehow ended up at the restaurant. When Cha-young goes to Kang’s side and holds out her hands, he stands up to hug her.
On the train ride home, Kang holds Cha-young’s hand as she rests her head on his shoulder. Soon, he’s on the train alone and we hear Cha-young’s request, “Could you give me a little more time? Don’t push me to come back soon. Don’t wait for me. And don’t pity me.”
While Cha-young huddles on the floor of her room, a worried Kang arrives at Seon-he’s house and sees Cha-young’s shoes outside of her door. As Cha-young cries, Kang promises, “I won’t push you nor wait for you. Don’t get lost though. Just make sure you come back.” Kang stands outside of Cha-young’s room until the early morning light is in the sky.
Seung-hoon tags along with Joon to a pottery exhibit to plead with him to return to the hospital. When he’s ignored, Seung-hoon whispers that a chairman’s daughter wants to meet him but Joon is distracted by an attractive woman who’s massaging her left arm and shoulder (cameo by Lina).
Joon approaches her to warn, “You should go see a doctor soon…I think you have a serious condition.” The woman accuses Joon of hitting on her so he apologizes and turns away but she collapses seconds later. When Joon accompanies the woman into the ambulance, she asks, “Who are you?” With confidence, Joon tells her, “I’m Lee Joon, a neurosurgeon at Geosung University Hospital.”
Director Kwon hands his address to the movers at Seon-ae’s house and when they’re confused, he explains that he’s her husband. When they’re alone, Seon-ae begs Director Kwon to let her go because she doesn’t want to burden him with her illness. Instead, Director Kwon wraps his arms around Seon-ae and promises to stay by her side.
As Kang look up at the sky during a break, an elderly patient pokes him with his cane and suggests, “Let’s go for pizza.” Young-shil catches up to him and explains to Kang that ever since the old man went out with his grandson, he’s been craving wood-fired pizza. Kang decides that wood-fired pizza sounds like the perfect lunch and happily agrees to take the patient with him.
On a beach, Tae-hyun records a video to explain that Hee-na had to take an unexpected trip and that she apologizes for leaving without saying goodbye. When he’s overcome by emotion, Tae-hyun pauses the recording and recalls Hee-na’s final request.
Tae-hyun held the hand of the bedridden Hee-na while she weakly murmured that she wanted her viewers to believe that she was doing great, somewhere in the world. Tears trickled down Tae-hyun’s face as he agreed to her wish.
As her breathing weakened, Hee-na reasoned, “Because I really won’t die. I’ll work hard and continue to live my life to the fullest in this beautiful world of ours.” In her mind, Hee-na saw waves crashing on a beach as tears glistened on her cheeks.
With a sad smile, Tae-hyun resumes the recording, “…cherish every single moment that comes by, ladies and gentlemen. The day you wasted today is the tomorrow that someone who died yesterday so badly wished for.”
Dae-shik and Young-shil practice a song for a competition but he’s having trouble singing. Young-shil throws her arm around Dae-shik and suggests, “Don’t tell people that you left the gang to be a singer. Let’s keep it to ourselves.”
Young-shil jumps to her feet when she sees Na-ra, who’s there to visit all of the things that she misses about the hospice, like Ji-yong’s turtle. As Na-ra lists everything that she wants to see, an anxious Dae-shik explains that they need to practice for their competition which is the next day. When Young-shil whispers that the visitor is Na-ra, Dae-shik understands.
Young-shil suggests that if Na-ra misses the hospice that much, she should come back to work. Na-ra agrees and as she hurries away, Young-shil asks about her scary father. Na-ra reports that he broke both legs chasing a suspect so he won’t be a problem for some time.
When Na-ra asks about the man in the matching shirt, Dae-shik smiles and puts his arm around Young-shil, who confesses, “He’s my boyfriend.” When they sit down to practice, Dae-shik can’t stop smiling and calls Young-shil, “My girlfriend.”
Kang is at home missing Cha-young so he visits the hospice kitchen where he’s reminded of happier times. From there Kang goes for a walk on the beach and thinks back to their first kiss. While Kang keeps busy with hikes in the woods, we learn that Cha-young has been in touch and hear her voice, “You’re doing well, right?” Cha-young makes sure to let Kang know, “I have never been lost, not even once. All because you followed me no matter where I went and stood there for me holding a guiding light.”
As Kang takes in the scenery, Cha-young’s voice continues, “I’m grateful that such a wonderful man like you makes my heart flutter.” It’s during one of his hikes that Kang comes to a decision.
Kang returns to the restaurant in Greece where Cha-young worked and he’s recognized by the maître d. He explains that Cha-young isn’t at work, so Kang decides to wait for her and he sits at the same table all day.
In the morning, Kang visits the site of the cooking competition and recalls Cha-young’s description of their first meeting as kids, “I was starving, and he made a warm home-cooked meal for me.” As he walks through the streets, Kang just misses Cha-young, who looks as if she’s deep in thought.
At the restaurant, Kang is served a chocolate cake and he immediately recognizes Cha-young’s handiwork. He races through town on a bicycle as we hear the words he spoke for the opening of the drama, “I’ve been running for a long time to come to you.”
Kang jumps off the bike to run to the arched lookout by the sea where he’s finally reunited with Cha-young. His narration continues, “There were times when I wanted to stop…And sometimes, I got lost. But because of you, I could come this far.”
Kang pulls Cha-young into a back hug and when he turns her around to kiss her, we hear him explain, “I wanted you to get more rest, but I missed you way too much.” As they walk away holding hands, Kang stops to wrap his scarf around Cha-young and we hear her say, “I wanted to rest with you, too.”
Kang narrates that this is where their story ends as we’re treated to scene after scene of the drama’s characters eating. Kang continues, “We will get lost again at one point or another…But as long as we hold onto hope, nothing can break us down.”
Gosh, I love Kang and Cha-young together. I just wish that there hadn’t been that separation before their dramatic reunion in Greece. While I understand that Cha-young’s inability to save her mother with her act of kindness wounded her deeply, I was disappointed that she ran away to Greece by herself. Even though it’s consistent with Cha-young’s pattern to deal with her pain all alone, I was angry that her mother cost her even one minute of happiness with Kang. But when Cha-young met her mother, she was confronted with an unrepentant, selfish monster who she realized never once gave her daughter’s well-being a thought. Cha-young’s mother couldn’t be more different than Kang’s mother, who in her final act of kindness taught Cha-young how to live.
What the separation did prove though, was that Kang was yet again willing to wait for Cha-young. Kang knelt for 4 hours on the beach in Wando while Cha-young slept on his shoulder and he stood vigil through the night outside of her room after her meeting with her mother. He went about his life as best he could without Cha-young while she recovered in Greece until he just had to see her again. Kang’s support and patience balanced out the years of Cha-young’s suffering when he failed to recognize that she was the girl that he met in Wando.
While it was a relief to see Kang and Cha-young back together, I was disappointed by its briefness and the fact that it was Kang who was doing all of the work. Cha-young had to know that Kang was in Greece and I’m convinced that she made that cake so that he would realize that she was back. But why run away again? Even if Cha-young needed more time to heal, there’s a point when a couple shares one another’s burdens, and Kang had demonstrated time and again that he was ready to do just that.
That commitment to share the ups and downs of life is what finally brought Director Kwon and Seon-ae back together. Seon-ae’s dementia allowed Director Kwon to finally see their married life through her eyes and he realized that he essentially abandoned her while he worked long hours to support her family. Not only was Seon-ae lonely, she couldn’t bear to watch the man that she loved kill himself to satisfy her selfish siblings. It was heartwarming to witness their reunion even though Seon-ae’s condition will rob them of some of the time that they have left together.
That aspect of battling time is something that’s all too familiar at a hospice, and both Tae-hyun and Young-shil are confronted by it firsthand. Dae-shik finally tells Young-shil that he’s dying and with no time to waste, she makes a heartfelt plea for them to make the most of the time that he has left. I’m not gonna lie, Young-shil’s argument about why Dae-shik shouldn’t give up on their love had me laughing and crying at the same time. I was a sucker for the former gangster who had nurtured a life-long crush for the bossy nurse with the biggest heart around. And then there’s Tae-hyun. He was there to help Hee-na in her final days and her determination to live her life as intentionally as possible served as a stark contrast to Tae-hyun’s aimless existence. Tae-hyun will never forget the young girl with a thirst for life thanks to the hospice, and the lessons learned there changed Joon and Kang as well.
Whatever the disappointment I felt about Kang and Cha-young in the finale, Joon’s brotherly relationship with his cousin made up for it. After turning their backs on the hospital, Kang and Joon finally connected as family and friends. While Joon was surprised that Kang gave up on the chairmanship to save the hospice, it only proved what he had known all along, that his cousin was never an enemy but a kind and loving boy. Then, when confronted by the disturbing symptoms of that woman at the gallery, Joon slipped back into doctor mode to help her. With that return to medicine, Joon’s perspective shifted from the selfish pursuit of the chairmanship to a desire to help others and his happiness was apparent. I have no doubt that in the future, Joon and Kang will work together to run both the hospital and the hospice.
Kang’s closing words celebrating the power of hope and kindness were a testament to his mother. No matter what their future holds, our reunited couple, along with everyone who was changed for the better by their time at the hospice, will live their lives with intentional acts of kindness. It’s the quality that drew Kang and Cha-young to one another in the first place. Now that they’re back together, it’s time for them to focus that kindness on one another.
- Premiere Watch: People With Flaws, Chocolate
- Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won begin a romantic journey in Greece for JTBC’s Chocolate
- First teaser for JTBC’s Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Jang Seung-jo confirms JTBC drama Chocolate with Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang
- Ha Ji-won, Yoon Kye-sang up for JTBC melo Chocolate