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Memorials: Episode 16 (Final)

The time has come to say goodbye to this delightful gem and as much as it pains me to see the story end, the characters will stay with me. Our couple has come a long way from the start of their journey and as one chapter comes to a close, they find they’re able to reminisce about the past but look forward towards the future. The road may not have been easy, but the important things in life rarely are and the laughter and love along the way are what makes everything worthwhile.

 
EPISODE 16 RECAP

Gong-myung, Dae-cheol, and Yong-kyu tut as they watch the Idiot Trio and Dong-chan bustling about in preparation for the upcoming election. At the same time, Mom pulls Se-ra aside to suggest running as well but Se-ra adamantly refuses, threatening to tell Dad if Mom doesn’t stop and escaping before Mom can argue.

At work, Se-ra makes calls for her juice side hustle. Hee-soo joins her and cheekily questions the ethicality of peddling juice in the office. Se-ra retorts Mawon hasn’t paid her an income for nearly a year and tells Hee-soo to get to the point of her visit. Hee-soo asks if Se-ra plans to run for chief and Se-ra bluntly replies no, she won’t get paid and the red tape will prevent her from getting anything done.

Hee-soo points out as chief, Se-ra could postpone Smart One City’s Area 6 construction but Se-ra argues it would be easier to win the lottery. Knowing she’s sided with Chairman Jo, Se-ra tells Hee-soo to report she has no interest in further elections. With a smile, Hee-soo struts off and Se-ra mutters how much she hates her. Hee.

Staring up at Chairman Jo’s campaign poster, Gong-myung grimaces Jo will have an even easier time getting what he wants as chief. Se-ra squeezes his hand reassuringly and continues to study his face when they return to the shop that evening. Ja-ryong proudly announces he’s finished “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” (comic version) and Woo-young asks who’s his favorite character.

Ja-ryong instantly replies Liu Bei and the others debate their own favorites with Se-ra choosing Kongming (because it’s similar to Gong-myung). Smiling, Gong-myung starts to say he likes her too, before sharing his character of choice. Ja-ryong argues when the weak asked for help, everyone else wanted to flee since the enemy was after them, but only Liu Bei stood his ground. He says that’s why Liu Bei is the main character and looking pointedly at Se-ra, declares the main character can’t just lie around.

At work, Se-ra thinks over all the complaints she’d handled during her time on the Mawon District Council. She writes in her notebook: “Someone who has the ability and the will to not turn his or her back on the people” and looking up, proclaims there is such a person. Later, she sits in a darkened stairwell, and looks up with a smile when Son Eun-sil walks up.

In her office, Eun-sil wishes Se-ra would’ve called but Se-ra says she wanted to sorth her thoughts while waiting. Eun-sil guesses she wants to oppose Chairman Jo in the election and promises to tell Se-ra anything she wants. Se-ra announces she wants Eun-sil to run for chief and when Eun-sil worries about her past failures reflecting poorly against the three-term Jo, Se-ra says life is about three attempts.

The next day, Se-ra tells Gong-myung Eun-sil asked for 12 hours to think over her proposal. She clarifies she didn’t approach Eun-sil in order to defeat Chairman Jo, rather she felt someone who has the ability and will not to turn their back on the people deserved the position. Smiling, Gong-myung nods in agreement and Se-ra’s phone buzzes with Eun-sil’s reply: “Thank you. Let’s make our own opportunity.”

Woo-young bristles upon learning the comic shop will once more become a campaign headquarters but Se-ra explains she’s not running – she’s returning Eun-sil’s favor when she’d stepped down for Se-ra’s election, and vows to become a kingmaker. Setting out a game plan, Eun-sil admits she wasn’t born nor raised here, but she liked Mawon for the names which she identifies as the values people consider highly.

Se-ra suggests they make “Protect Your Important Values” her campaign slogan and keeping with Se-ra’s theme of three, Eun-sil elects to choose three values to focus on. The women choose “safety” and “promise” and allow Ja-ryong to select “memory.” Over at Chairman Jo’s camp, the Idiot Trio worries they should do something about Se-ra and Eun-sil, but Chairman Jo insists the women will make fools of themselves without interference and orders them to focus on his campaign.

At the office, Dae-cheol muses the reps are all busy campaigning and Yong-kyu adds Chairman Jo is in charge of the political scene. He says Jo has placed Hee-soo in charge of most things as he deals with the election, including Smart One City. Gong-myung spots Se-ra’s cactus’ twin and Yong-kyu explains Hee-soo threw it out but the cleaning lady thought it a shame to trash it.

Dong-chan tells Chairman Jo that reporters are still hounding them for the environmental effect report and Hee-soo suggests he share it with them so they can better craft a response. She returns to her office with a copy of the report and her eyes fall on her cactus. She immediately calls to demand who was in her office and meets with Gong-myung. He admits Se-ra had received the same cactus from Assemblyman Bong.

Hee-soo says Bong intended for her and Se-ra to care for them – together and separately – but says he was wrong and she and Se-ra are too different. Gong-myung asks her to stand together one more time and Hee-soo asks what she gains from supporting Eun-sil over Chairman Jo. Gong-myung concedes she’ll gain zero profit… but she’ll have the opportunity to make a change. Chairman Jo will bring her material gains, but Eun-sil promotes change.

His reference to Assemblyman Bong’s assessment on the two desires of politicians is not lost on Hee-soo and she says his words mean nothing after Bong’s disgraceful resignation. Gong-myung argues if that were true, she wouldn’t have reacted. Hee-soo sighs she regrets telling Gong-myung about it at all.

While going over Eun-sil’s campaign schedule, Se-ra is agitated by Hee-soo loitering in the shop. She barks it’s suspicious to have someone from the opposition in their camp and Hee-soo says her allegiance depends on what’s in the envelope she shakes at Se-ra. Taking the envelope, Se-ra’s eyes widen at the environmental report. Hee-soo says she better win and sashays out of the shop as Se-ra calls after her, “Thank you, unnie!”

Outside the elementary school, Eun-sil reveals the results of the report which Chairman Jo had hidden and vows to keep the residents safe. The moms cheer her on and Se-ra smiles while across town Chairman Jo angrily calls Hee-soo to demand why she helped the enemy. Hee-soo quips she and Jo are from different parties and while they joined forces on the Smart One City project, that doesn’t mean they share the same destination.

She tells him not to order her around and hangs up before turning to Gong-myung. Hee-soo says he’ll still need something big to take Chairman Jo down and Gong-myung says there’s someone he plans to meet… and finds himself sitting across from Min-jae. Pouring Gong-myung a drink, Min-jae says Jo also came to him for help.

Min-jae guesses he’s here for help in winning the election… and that Se-ra doesn’t know he came since he’d given her the same file and she hadn’t told Gong-myung about it. He confesses he knew Se-ra wouldn’t use it because she cares about someone. Recalling Chairman Jo’s mantra, one must sell everything to gain what they want, Min-jae says Gong-myung already possesses what he needs. Handing over the file, he sighs the flash drive is meaningless.

That evening, Gong-myung plugs in the flash drive with Chairman Jo’s dirt but thinking over Chairman Jo and Min-ja’s words, realizes, “I must sell myself.” Chairman Jo is warned he has 30 percent of the votes, but Eun-sil has 20, with 40 percent undecided. Desperate, the next day Chairman Jo holds a press conference and discusses his sons.

At Eun-sil’s camp, Se-ra tears up reading the articles and Eun-sil urges her team not to be swayed by Jo’s shady tactics and simply do what they must and can. Gong-myung finally reaches a decision and publishes his own statement, admitting to being Chairman Jo’s son. He says rather than selling in order to gain as Chairman Jo had done, Gong-myung is choosing to sell himself to be with the people he values and protect their dreams.

We see Dae-cheol, Yong-kyu, Mom and Dad sobbing as Gong-myung continues he plans to expose Chairman Jo as a human being and father. His heartfelt words work and come election day, Eun-sil wins by a significant margin. During her acceptance speech, Se-ra sneaks off to look for Gong-myung but is unable to find him at her secret place or the bus stop and her calls go unanswered.

PART 2

Walking home, Gong-myung looks up to find Chairman Jo waiting. Jo miserably admits he had nowhere to go and says he wanted to apologize. Gong-myung bitterly declares he won’t accept it and for the rest of their lives, they won’t reconcile. With a sad smile, Chairman Jo pats his shoulder and walks away.

The morning of Eun-sil’s inauguration, Dong-chan and the Idiot Trio arrive to find the front row occupied by children. He waves Gong-myung over to demand why there aren’t VIP seats reserved. Gong-myung coolly replies the new chief has nixed VIP seating in favor of a first-come-first-serve system. Dong-chan laughs but turns to find the Idiot Trio already seated in the second row, quietly waving him over.

Eun-sil takes the podium and Gong-myung smiles as Se-ra excitedly snaps photos. After her greeting, Eun-sil says that many conflicts arose regarding the controversy of Smart One City Area 6: “Although benefits may change, principles do not.” Vowing to create a safe home for everyone, she promises to remember the victims of the Sarang Resort fire, understand the difficulties of the construction workers, and consider the future families who will build hope in the homes being built: “Although it may take longer, let’s go together.”

A Mawon Elementary School class is asked to consider things to do for other people and one group makes a poster petitioning the Sarang Resort fire memorial be moved to the school with each vote in favor adding a heart sticker. The students quickly fill the paper and when Dad passes by that afternoon, he smiles cutely as he adds one too.

June 30, 2021 – Se-ra’s Last Day at Work Dad cooks breakfast and tells Mom about the poster, praising the kids. Se-ra bursts out of her room, strutting through the house to show off her last-day-at-work outfit. Mom and Dad stare back blankly and Mom sighs age isn’t everything. Dad barks Se-ra is 30 already and she quips she’s the youngest in the house.

At work, Se-ra drops by the Secretariat to say goodbye. She isn’t sure when she’d get the chance to see Dae-cheol and Yong-kyu again and says she needed to check something, smiling at a female employee (is that the other woman who was screwed over at Se-ra’s old design company???). Se-ra heads to the meeting room and reminisces over her journey from interrupting the meeting over the distribution center to acting as Chairman.

Tearful, Se-ra says bids her 20th workplace goodbye: “Although I wasn’t paid a cent, I still have one last hope.” Her phone buzzes with a text informing her that elected civil servants do not receive severance pay. Hee.

Walking out she removes her pin and looks up when Gong-myung calls out to Representative Gu Se-ra. Se-ra corrects she’s no longer a rep – she quit – and they walk out arm-in-arm. They toast beers at Sunset Land and Gong-myung congratulates her on a job well done. She echoes his praise and seriously says, “Now…” But before Gong-myung can get his hopes up, she pulls out her diary to start making future plans.

He cautiously asks if he’s included in those plans and smirking, Se-ra says it depends on his behavior. Gong-myung asks if she can promise something and Se-ra listens expectantly as Gong-myung slides closer and says, “For the rest of your life… Don’t do politics.” Swallowing her disappointment, Se-ra writes, “No politics, forever” in her book.

Pulling her close, Gong-myung tells her to promise and smiling, Se-ra kisses him. He asks her to seal it, and Se-ra kisses him again. Se-ra tells him to copy and he kisses her back. Giggling, they “sign” with another kiss.

Spring 2022 Han-bi signs for a delivery and wakes Se-ra up to hand her the letter. Se-ra doesn’t recognize the sender but upon opening it finds it’s from Idiot Trio member Si. He hopes she’s doing well and admits he was inspired by her and has decided to run for Seoul City Council. Later, they look over his campaign poster and Han-bi and Ja-ryong point out his motto “We Can Do It” was taken directly from Se-ra’s campaign.

Se-ra waves it off as public property and they start to walk on, but Woo-young continues staring at the posters and wonders if she can do it too. Her expression becomes determined and we cut to Woo-young bearing a campaign headband as she leads her friends to face off against Se-ra’s old opponent, Oh Byeong-min. Se-ra narrates Woo-young entered the by-election to take the seat Assemblyman Si had vacated.

Spring 2023 Woo-young struts into Mawon Office, pushing her toddler in a stroller. Yong-kyu says they’ve received complaints over her parking her stroller in the hallway and indicates the remaining Idiot Duo as the instigators. Se-ra narrates Assemblyman Si succeeded in joining the Seoul City Council as Woo-young glares at the remaining duo. Dong-chan runs in to show off Hee-soo’s campaign poster to the men.

The Duo tuts she likely won’t win and Dong-chan assumes they’re jealous she received a nomination. He declares she’s unmatched in ability and looks and the men concede that… but as we see Hee-soo campaigning on the street, we’re reminded Hee-soo is still unpopular. Even her team gossips she was only nominated to meet the female quota. She forces a smile but when a group of students pass, one promises to vote for her when he grows up and Hee-soo is reinvigorated.

Han-bi beams as she finally returns to judo as an instructor for kids. She happily retrieves Ja-ryong from school, passing Granny as she tends to the Sarang Resort fire memorial on the grounds. Meanwhile, Dae-cheol stops by the service center to brag Gong-myung promised to treat him to lunch for being named the kindest civil servant. He adds Gong-myung learned all about dealing with complaints from him.

They’re interrupted by the irate citizen with the umbrella from Gong-myung’s first stint in the service center and before Dae-cheol can address the man, Gong-myung sweeps in. Greeting the man, he holds out his hands and passes the umbrella to Dae-cheol as he politely suggests they discuss the complaint calmly. The man agrees to a 20 minute chat and Gong-myung sets a timer before they get into the man’s issue.

April 1st 2023 Se-ra and Gong-myung place a banana milk at the bus stop and see the sign has finally been fixed. Se-ra says there’s still one place where Sarang’s name remains and despite working at the Community Center, Gong-myung admits he doesn’t know of any place. She points above their heads to the bus stop plate reading “Former Sarang Resort.” Se-ra sighs even that will change with time but Gong-myung assures her they’ll still be around. He opens his arms wide for a hug and stepping into his embrace, Se-ra agrees.

A trio in fedoras and trench coats look at a plaque declaring the comic book shop Se-ra’s design lab and head inside. They announce they’re from “The Polar Bear Party,” focused on protecting the environment, and learned about her through Ja-ryon’gs webtoon, “Into the Ring.” The party of three begs Se-ra to join forces, but Se-ra says she retired from politics and shows them the page of her diary where she’d promised Gong-myung.

Her phone rings and she excuses herself to answer a call from the Labor Administration. According to the man on the line, Se-ra had reported a company for not paying an outsourcing fee but rather than addressing her complaint, the man wants Se-ra to stop posting. He says freelancers aren’t protected by the Labor Standards Act and advises her to take the company to civil court.

Se-ra argues she worked regular hours at the office despite signing a freelancing contract. The man sighs she should’ve signed a proper contract and to revise the law if she doesn’t like it. Se-ra retorts she didn’t know that was an option. Fuming, she snaps her notebook shut and asks if the party’s platform includes worker ants. The leader smiles they exist thanks to funding from worker ants and Se-ra shakes her hand, winking mischievously.

We see some panels from Ja-ryong’s webtoon, depicting Se-ra and Gong-myung’s story. We end on one of Gong-myung watching Se-ra’s initial campaign on the overpass and blushing, indicating this was the start of his feelings for her as we revisit that night and see him smiling as he watches her greeting passersby.

 
COMMENTS

Y’all I literally do not think I can gush enough about this drama. From the story, to the characters, to the cast… everything deserves so much praise. Nana and Park Sung-hoon’s chemistry was off the charts and really sold this quirky, adorable, and endearing couple that stayed true to themselves and each other from start to finish. It was refreshing to see a couple love each other so naturally without over-the-top angst or separation. Honestly, if there were anything to complain about with this finale it would be not seeing more of them together.

The story was sweet, and the pacing was on point, but the beating heart of the show was the characters. I was thoroughly enamored with the entire cast, not just our leads, and that speaks volumes to the writing and acting. There was such a wonderful juxtaposition between the two dads as Se-ra’s is a slightly overbearing, tough-love, gruff teddybear who adores his daughter despite the headaches her antics cause while Gong-myung’s has a perfect genteel image only to be cold and ineffective as an actual parent. It was gratifying to see Gong-myung step out of that dark shadow, finally confront Chairman Jo openly about being an awful parent and person and have the strength to refuse forgiveness.

The notion that forgiveness is necessary in order to heal is inaccurate and can often do more harm than good. While it’s true that allowing trauma to rule your life and hatred to fester is unhealthy, not everyone deserves forgiveness and it’s unfair to put that burden on the victim. Chairman Jo’s apology after losing everything was so empty. He’d had countless opportunities to apologize and make amends in the years following Jong-dae’s death but so long as he had more to gain, he didn’t care how that hurt Gong-myung. Chairman Jo is a fantastically realistic villain whose core sin is being selfish in the worst way. He didn’t orchestrate Assemblyman Yang’s murder or conspire to cover up a nefarious plot that resulted in the Sarang Resort Fire, but he did use people however he saw fit and learned the hard way that it leaves you all alone, in the end.

Next to Gong-myung, the person most victimized by Chairman Jo was Min-jae. He had some agency and holds full responsibility for losing Se-ra, but his choices don’t justify Chairman Jo’s exploitation of him. Min-jae’s sacrifices were under the assumption he would be rewarded for his service and while that does not excuse the way he treated Se-ra, I can’t help but feel bad for him falling prey to Chairman Jo’s empty promises. It’s a shame to see all those years go to waste, but I’m glad he was able to get away from Chairman Jo before everything went to hell and hope he can rebuild his life.

Hee-soo was luckier as Gong-myung and Se-ra managed to appeal to her soft side before she signed her soul to the devil. I feel she’s too sassy to have met Min-jae’s fate, but although Chairman Jo wouldn’t be able to puppet her as easily, Hee-soo still had ambitions he could appeal to. I’m glad that despite his shameful departure, Assemblyman Bong’s words stuck with her. He made a human mistake that unfortunately cost someone their life, but just as Chairman Jo’s final apology doesn’t negate all the horrible things he’s done, Bong’s error in judgement shouldn’t erase that he was a good mentor. People, and life, aren’t black and white.

I’ve mentioned it before, but something that really appealed with this show was the way in which conflicts were resolved in unpredictable ways. I love that it didn’t make things easy for Se-ra – she didn’t win every time, and even when she did, it often came at a cost. Still, she made an impact on the people around her and managed to do a lot of good, even if she got shafted a lot along the way. Under her influence, Gong-myung went from being a loner who kept everyone at arm’s length and struggled to empathize to making friends and learning how to communicate effectively with others. Han-bi realized her mistake in giving up something she loved out of guilt and returned to judo. Woo-young finally stopped internalizing her frustrations and regained the confidence sexist work environments had beaten out of her. Eun-sil took one more shot at a career in politics and won and Assemblyman Si was so affected by Se-ra he broke out of the Trio to succeed where Chairman Jo’s scheming had failed. I appreciate the message that there’s value in not just accomplishing your own dreams and goals, but inspiring others to do the same. There was a strong sense of community throughout and I think that theme of togetherness resonates and is something needed now, more than ever.

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This drama was such a refreshing watch from the start to the end. Although romance wasn't the main focus, Nana and Park Sung-hoon's chemistry was one of the best I've seen. They might just be my favourite couple of this year. The writing and directing also deserves praise. I usually find political dramas tedious but this one was funny and quirky which kept me interested until the end. Really excited for Nana's and PSH's future projects!

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Not to be dramatic, but they might be my favorite OTP in dramaland. Like, I've never even had that before. All my favs have been tied, this whole time, and they just came out of no where and ended that, just like that.

I'm so looking forward to more from both of them. Hopefully more comedy for Nana and more lead roles for Park Sung-hoon!

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Yes, it was so unexpected I really didn’t expect it either. And Nana and PSH have such great chemistry off screen too! I haven’t seen co-stars as close as they are

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Yes! I could tell how great their tandem was before, but now that I've watched the bts the past week (I'd saved them for after the drama ended because I knew I'd be missing them, haha), I definitely have to say they have one of the most comfortable friendships I've ever seen between costars.

I'm so happy they got to "meet" in these roles and to work with such a great PD/writer too!

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They are definitely my favourite OTP ever!

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When I started this drama, I had no expectation. But I'm so happy now.

This drama balanced very well the humor, the politics and the love story. It made it very entertaining to watch and never boring or cheesy. I'm happy they kept the way they filmed until the end.

Nana reminds me Jung Eunji, I love them in extrovert character. Her energy matched the story. It was very nice to see Park Sung Hoon's evolution from a lonely boy to a warm man. He nailed it.

For the 16th episode, it was the first time I was kinda disapointed. I hoped Sera would have gained experience and found a job she loved, asked her smart boyfriend before signing a contract that disadvantages her... After 4 years, she was still at the same place. For GM, I was wondering if he chose the complaints and forget his dream to work in Budget or he was assigned. But it's details :p

For the memorial, I think people can't live in the past and it's normal that the place of a tragedy becomes something else. But it's important to not forget too. So the school was a perfect place for this, they lost so many kids after all.

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I think it's perfect. Sera may not have her perfect job yet, but her story's not over. She left her mark on all of the characters throughout the episodes. That's the change and progress that is reflected in ep 16, rather than a more tangible growth. She still has a chance to keep growing, to keep striving, to keep fighting. Having the perfect job is not the end of it all, right? And Se-ra discovered that politics is her life--that's how she can make sure that she can protect what she wants to protect (even if she's not the face of the party).

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I think it's important in drama that characters evolved. Sera still complaints and still has no job after 4 years. She always has a impact on people, it's not new (GM, Eun Sil, Assemblyman Bong, etc.), and I love her personnality for that.
In politics, her only victory is to find a better candidate than Chairman Jo and she did great. But she's not good at politics herself. And she gave her word...

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Completely agree. What I liked about this show is how it showed characters evolving in less obvious ways. Se-ra got more effective at politics over the course of her time in office, but never became capable enough to protect what's important to her on her own. Her lesson was in learning that, in order to keep her word, she need not be the main character at the forefront of the fight. And yet, I feel like this experience alone will be integral for her so that when she rises to the occasion again, she'll continue to become more and more capable. I like that this show doesn't overwrite her character. She'll be the type to fight and fail again and again until she succeeds. Already, towards the end, though, she responded to her failures with much more grace and maturity and focused on finding another solution. Her growth was subtle and gratifying for me.

Woo-young was always the one meant to have more drastic growth, as her imagination vs. reality often hinted at. She always wanted to be more like Se-ra, speaking out against the injustices done against her, and this is why she often had a mix of resentment/admiration towards her. So it feels particularly apt that she be the one to undergo the most prominent change.

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Am hoping that Gong-myung chose and not assigned, maybe because he really likes Dae-cheol ^^ or maybe because he's pretty much got nothing to hide now and is opening up to people. Is it just me or is he showing more forehead..?

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definitely more forehead. the close crop has vanished, and the flick /comma has appeared.

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Is it just me or does he not look like Tablo from Epic High, even more-so with the new hairstyle lol? P.S- That is a compliment btw!

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I only started this because of all of the posts on the fanwall and immediately fell in love. It's amazing that it kept its pace and tone through the end of the drama. The epilogues in the first half were brilliant. By the second half our couple were so in tune. It was hilarious from the start and had so much heart! I loved her friends and Ja Ryong, the parents, the funny assemblymen, and the halmoni! I also loved that evil Cho wasn't murderously evil--just a selfish person who discarded his family (not a great thing to do ofc, but still)

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Been wondering from the start about reconciliation, but Gong-myung sure put a definite rest to that. And who can blame him, while he was still hesitating about "selling himself", Chairman Jo just went and nail his own coffin. Guess whatever they have was too broken to save. But it's okay, like @captainlaika said, he has Se-ra's mom and dad now!

Am loving @sunny comment so much about Se-ra inspiring others to accomplish their dreams and goals as shown in the ending round-up. Totally loving Woo-young's sassy "I'm watching you" gesture. And if Dong-chan is still a doofus, at least he is quite constant in his affection for Hee-soo, who is in her elements and persistently doing what she wants. Kinda wish they showed Min-jae being successful where he is, maybe raking money from inventive farming/fishing..?

Couldn't say enough about the loveliest of lovely OTP and their delightful no-manufactured-angst-needed-journey from childhood friends, colleagues/freenemies, mentor-mentee, a new couple, and finally a tried and tested couple. Am sure they'll even survive Se-ra's going into Polar Bear Party ><

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Chairman Jo's excuses were not really sincere. If, in the future, he apologizes sincerely, I'm sure GM could accept it. But we know, if he won, he wouldn't have apologized.

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I don’t think so. I mean, Gong Muyng can maybe be totally indifferent to him, but they will never have a father and son relation, because Gong Muyng doesn’t have a memory of him being a father. Sunny is right when she says there is no obligation to forgive those who have harmed us. We don’t choose our family, we don’t choose our parents and siblings, you don’t have to love them when they hurt and they don’t love you back. I was always rooting for that reconciliation, but then when Gong Muyng told Chairman Jo that the would never forgive him, I totally understood him: he was making a decision, just as his father decided to sell his family for a political position years ago.

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They didn't even show the lead ending up successful. She was basically living hand-to-mouth through 2023. Min-jae had his own journey to go on. Having very nearly sold his soul to the devil he turned his back on everything and, as near as we can tell from the story, went into the countryside to live his life as an aesthetic... or whatever the modern equivalent of that is.

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But...but...I'm not ready to say goodbye. I just want to keep inhabiting their world for a little bit longer. I haven't felt this attached to a show and its characters in ages.

"The main character can't just lie around!" - Hahaha, the meta. And how it set the tone for the finale! Sera's idealistic battle comes to an end and she recognizes that, her hands tied, she must make the practical choice of finding more lucrative employment. However, instead of "running away", she runs forward to a new and improved resolve, to find and put the true "person with the ability not to abandon others" in the position. After all, a true fight is a marathon, and the baton pass to Son Eun-sil was a wonderful way for things to come full circle, and finally achieve the aims that, frankly, could not have been possible without Se-ra's tenacity and initiative.

Both our leads showcased wonderful moments of growth this episode. Gong-myung's was certainly hard to watch though. While Jo Maeng-deok ultimately "sold" off his family through lies, Gong-myung was forced to sell his hardest truth, an action which, though incredibly difficult, showcased just how far he's come from the resigned, detached existence he lived at the start.

I honestly sense, deep-down, that his father seems to be suffering from his own apathy towards his personal life. Perhaps, since the moment he lost one of his sons and a chance at a truly happy familial life, he decided to forgo fighting for whatever was left and based more importance on his ambitions. From that moment, he set himself on a path he could not get off of because the moment he chose to be better, the guilt of his actions would set in. In some sense, it felt like Gong-myung freed him from his own self-destruction. Though these things aren't explicitly parsed, the writer and PD did well to make use of small moments to convey a lot, at least for me.

Loved the imagery of Gong-myung emerging from the light of the tunnel and his father hovering, head bowed, in the shadows. By forcing Gong-myung's hand, and essentially putting it on him to sell his heart's greatest pains, his father robbed them of any chance of reconciliation. Because now, inevitably, his apology comes when he has nothing to lose. It's a sad, inevitable reality for their relationship and I'm really glad the show didn't give some sugar-coated resolution. I don't expect Jo expected forgiveness either, but I appreciate he gave Gong-myung the chance to refuse. Phenomenal acting by both in that scene!

In light of the sacrifice Ggong had to make, I'm glad Se-ra chose him over politics...lol, well, temporarily, at least? Until her role as main character in Ja-ryong's webtoon cheekily called her back into duty, that is. As much as I was proud and gratified by Se-ra giving up the need to be the "main character", by doing so, she effectively proved how truly capable and worthy she's grown to be. So it's fitting that she become involved...

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cont.

As much as I was proud and gratified by Se-ra giving up the need to be the "main character", by doing so, she effectively proved how truly capable and worthy she's grown to be. So it's fitting that she become involved again and drag Ggong (reluctant and pouting, at first, of course) right along with her on her journey!

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Ooh, that's deep about Chairman Jo! I agree that he's pretty much resigned himself off Gong-myung's life but him giving his son the chance to refuse forgiveness, as you said, is a pretty poignant closure. And a sad one too... he didn't even have Min-jae by his side anymore. Guess that's his comeuppance, being all alone with his failed ambition...

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Can you imagine any other actress embodying the Se-ra role like Nana? Imagine Hwang Jung-eum in the role, for instance. The series would've immediately dropped from five stars to three.

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Oh absolutely! This was Nana's show through and through. She was the sun at the centre around which everyone revolved. I loved how she made it her own, and kept it that way right till the end.

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Her giggle!! It was pure joy!! And all her facial expressions! She poured her heart into SeRa and it shows!

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Aww, Hwang Jung-eum depending on the director/script can actually turn in a very good performance. Ex. Mystic Pop Up Bar was perfectly tailored to her. I don't see anyone else playing her role, same with Nana in Into the Ring. They both got characters that showcased the best of them. I know it wasn't your intention, but let's not pit two completely different actresses together. Men are Men has issues but none of them include Hwang Jung-eum.

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Se-ra and Gong-myung definitely goes to the top10 couples in dramaland. So natural and as Sunny pointed out, no unnecessary over-the-top angst and separation. The couple communicated, gave space & support when needed, it was goals!

Love the writing and how each line was not wasted. Directing was refreshing, it was totally different from the dramas I've seen and love the close-ups. It must have taken time to shoot since there's the close up and also the wide one.

Thanks to @Sunny and Beanies for the wonderful time~~! Till next drama.

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It was hard to get through Wednesday and Thursday this week without Se-ra and Gong-myung :( *sniff*

I have nothing substantial to say about the show. So I will keep this a superficial fangirling post.

@sunny Thank you for the great ride through your recaps and thoughts - it's been a lot of fun with you. I'm sorry I joined the party late (and missed out on the first few live comment threads), but I'm really glad I eventually climbed aboard this delightful journey called Into The Ring! It wasn't the most perfect of rides, but it was so heartwarming and beautiful and happy and joyous and everything in between (despite the - limited - angst), that it made up for whatever I thought was lacking or overdone (e.g., OTT acting in parts, slapstick, etc.).

I have said this before, but it begs repeating - A special shout out to whoever conceived the music for this show - the background music (not just the OST) is one of the most memorable I have ever heard in kdramaland - comic and yet appropriately nuanced, never overused, never overwhelming the dialogue or the story - I loved it as much as I loved the characters and the unforgettable OTP.

Also, Nana is such a discovery! I thought Son Ye-Jin's comic timing in CLOY earlier this year was awesome, but Nana easily gives her a run for her money. I hope she keeps doing comedy often - this is definitely her thing.

This heads straight into my list of all-time favourite rom-coms, and joins the likes of WFKBJ! I will miss this show more than I can put down in words.

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The background music was fantastic! I just had to look for that piece that always plays when Se-ra starts things ("Kick-off") but a lot of the quieter pieces are really pretty and memorable as well

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I keep playing the piano music in my head over and over!

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Thank you for all the recaps Sunny! What a great drama. I was a little surprised Gong-myung asked Se-ra to stay out of politics like that, although given the amount of trouble it's caused...understandable. You can take the girl out of the ring but you can't take the fight out of the girl though, so I was happy Se-ra still gets involved on a lower level (the polar bear squad is so funny too).

And I'm really happy where everyone ended up actually! It feels like we're leaving everyone, Chairman Jo aside, on a good path. Speaking of which, I was starting to expect it but I was surprised at how refreshing it felt that Gong-myung didn't feel the need to forgive his dad. It's almost a bit novel to go without a reconciliation but I like it!

My only minor quibble might be the meandering plot but I'm not even sure that's a bad thing— it somehow fits the style of the drama in the end, and finding out the details of things like the Sarang Fire Resort aren't really necessary. Ultimately, it really hit all the emotional and comedic notes just right

Also I feel the cinematography and soundtrack (especially the score!) deserve a shoutout. It feels like they really worked to develop a style that fit the quirky tone of the show and actually stick with it past the opening week and I love it!

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Hey, @Sunny
Thank you for the recap. I agree with all your last comments, all of them!

Nevertheless, I have a couple of complains I would like the writer to read.

1. Please, Writer-nim... why on earth you didn't give me a proposal?? We all know Se-ra and Gong myung belong to each other? I know a wedding is not the happy ever after, but somehow I couldn't buy they just be dating until 2023! (Although at the beginning she had been dating min jae for 9 long years!😒) which leads me to my second complain.

2. I know it doesn't matter, but for me it does. Sera was dating Min jae for 9 years. In the first episode, she was waiting for him in his apartment half undressed! Getting to know her later and how she fell in love with our hero, and how her parents protected her, I dare to say, that first scene with min jae was inaccurate... she is just not like that.
Although, I suppose you would think a 9 years relationship would need to include some intimacy, but still... I dislike it. You should have given them less years together, and rule out the suggestion they were that intimate, because with Gong myung she didn't do more than kissing, even until year 2023!!!!!!!😒

3. Se-ra was never paid for her work as a representative! 😣 She did everything for her salary and didn't got any in a year! 😡 I am so upset! But not only that, I find it unrealistic. People who knows politics from Korea, correct me if you can.
Anyway, Writer-nim. Next time, please, at least give that fair satisfaction. She could have not resolved all issues she wanted, as a representative or the chairwoman, but she should at least earned her salary.

4. What happened to Mum's 50 thousand $ Debt?????
What happened to the construction of area six?
What happened to the arsenic?
None of these things were answered.

5. Can anyone (not only the writer) answer me what was implied when Se-ra accepted to become member of the environmental party, working as a worker ant?? Maybe is because English is not my mother language, and subs are still not always accurate for Korean is a very complicated language, but... what did it mean the whole scene with this new party?? Joining as a ant worker doesn't mean she is doing politics? (Because otherwise she will be breaking the promise she made to her boyfriend, and I don't want to imagining them having a fight over that)

6. Finally, Writer-nim. I feel disappointed you didn't give Se-ra a proper job by the end of the drama. It feels empty because from the beginning she was struggling to get simply a decent job. I bet she still thinks she has to pay her mom's debt. How will she do that? Selling juices????
I feel it is unfair, because whereas I am perfectly ok she retiring from politics, I believe she would have been able to get the proper connections and she gained also a lot of experience, so that she could have gotten a decent job at the end. And by connections I don't mean she should have been given a position throught...

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....throught same connections without deserving it, no. But that in a year she should or could have met the right people, telling her where and how to apply for a job she could do, due to her abilities.
Gaining so much experience in a year struggle without a salary,, she should not be jobless by the end of the story, but anyway...
At least she has a boyfriend that cannot be fired and whenever they finally marry, he won't let her starve 😅😂😅😂

I am out of complains.
I loved this drama anyways, mostly because of our OTP. They were healthy normal people in love and they were also friends and a good team working together even though most of their causes failed. They were optimistic and nice to each other and the rest of the cast was fun to watch.
Very good drama. All in all... Very good writing and acting and music and everything.
I am done😇

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I'm reminded of Voltaire's 'Candide' where the characters weather countless disasters (which they do not benefit from). Then after all their travails the book ends with the line ''We must cultivate our garden". The takeaway from the book was we do NOT live in the best of all possible worlds, things do NOT tend to work out for the best, things do NOT happen for a reason, but in the end we carry on anyway.

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So it is in real life, yes....

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This drama was amazing from start to finish. Nana killed it in this role and I firmly believe that she is more than just a pretty face now. This drama did a lot of things well and I am so happy that I watched it. It gave us the healthiest OTP and an amazing female friendships. I loved how all our supporting characters were utilised and none of them felt left out at any point. I loved the show for giving us realistic scenarios throughout. Like Sunny pointed out, Se Ra didn't always win and when she did there would be another challenge rearing it's head. Her actions had consequences and we were shown that. I loved that Mr Bong ultimately showed us that people aren't really all good or all bad . I loved how Gong Myung finally came out of his shell and learnt to communicate with others. His scene at the service centre shows us that he's still the same guy who sets a timer and does everything by the clock but he's a better communicator now. I agree with Chairman Jo not being forgiven. A lot of times forgiveness results in easing of burden for individuals but in this case Chairman Jo didn't really deserve it. He had numerous chances to make up with his son but he didn't. He finally asked for forgiveness when he had nothing left to lose. It seems that he didn't really want his son's forgiveness because if he did, he would have asked for it when he had the chance. I feel bad for Min Jae too because he ended up investing a large part of his prime with Chairman Jo but didn't really get anything in return. He may have bee a bad boyfriend, but he seems to have been a really good person. Also I teared up a little when Gong Myung talked about how the only thing he can sell is himself.

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This Drama was just Joy. I know Nana had some detractors in the beginning but she just fully encompassed Se Ra and knocked it out of the ball park. She was the glue for the rest of the cast. I loved every piece of this and I'm glad I got to watch it.

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I couldn’t understand the doubts Nana raised. I had only seen her before in Kill it, and she was pretty good. And in this drama, awwwwww, she was the sun that made everything brighter!

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Thank you for the recaps!

I find myself at loss for words, because everything I wanted to talk about has been eloquently mentioned in the recap notes.

For a romcom the ending was rather bittersweet, but I could not imagine another way to end this story. I started watching for a hilarious story about a heroine who would somehow end up and succeed in office, and was pleasantly mistaken. We can question whether Se-Ra would truly get as far as she did in politics in real life, but the fact that her road was paved with losses and empty victories was very true to life.

Despite things not ending perfectly, she indirectly inspired others to give their goals a try, and I think there is no greater accomplishment in life than that. The idiot trio member, Son Eun-Sil, Woo-Young, Jang-Ryong, Han-Bi,… were people who served their purpose in Se-Ra’s story, and are now main characters of their own story. I hope that Min-Jae finds happiness at home. Or in politics, because he has potential to change things with his working experience. Maybe he could team up with Hee-Soo?

Our Gong has grown up! His trauma will never disappear and he will never forgive his father, but he has Se-Ra and others to share his love and pain with right now, and throughout the flash forwards we could see how that helped him become happier. I pity chairman Jo, but that final separation is unfortunately very realistic. I think he was the one who left the flowers with the note at the bus stop, so at least he has something to focus on, even if it is much too late to start doing so.

Thank you Beanies for all the gushing over our Gong and all the other stuff in this K-drama. It was a wonderful ride! ❤️

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I love this drama so much! I was watching this loosely during the first week but before I know it, this became my favorite currently-airing drama. What am I going to do next week without Nana and Park Sung Hoon? Looking forward to their future projects!

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First of all, I want to thank you for the wonderful recaps and comments. Also to all the beanies that have enjoyed this show and commented both here and in the wall. It's been fantastic sharing this time with you all.

This drama has won my heart and is going directly to my top ten. I loved everything about it: the acting, the writing, the directing, the visuals, the music, the editing. It is a win-win.

And I declare SeRa and GongMyung the best OTP ever in the history of OTP in dramaland, because they are weird, they complement each other, they understand and not understand each other, they care for people, they learn from each other, they are funny, and good hearted, and they love each other in the best way possible: no noble idiocy, no patronizing, no stupid misunderstandings because of silence. I know they will have a beautiful future together.

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Agree with you so much. I hate noble idiocy, not talking, typical one year separation, annoying ex or second lead who doesn't understand a no four an answer, etc...
This otp has been the best in drama,, alongside with Louis and Bok shil, and the leads from Weightlifting Fairy and Her private life.

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Yes to all those couples too!

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I fully support your declaration! Also yes to this, "they understand and not understand each other". Lol, for some reason, the fact that they still perplex each other at times is one of my favorite things about them.

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Isn’t it? It’s the sweetest thing!

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I really liked the promising message of hope and kindness that this drama showed all throughout 16 episodes. While I do think my biggest gripe was that sometimes I felt the plot sometimes meandered, one thing that remained constant was our couple <3 They felt like a lived in real couple, and I loved that both of them enriched each other by their presence.

While Gong-myung confronting his father and eventually breaking up their bond was hearbreaking; sometimes its what's needed to break from the toxicity. I remember the scene with the umbrella (Flashback) and GM looked scared of his father which signified abuse perhaps? Anyways, I really liked his character and find bits of myself in him and Se-ra. He had a defense mechanism, and finding someone who cared about him and treated him like an equal, made him come out of his shell and into a more bright person. Se-ra's tenacity was a bit overbearing in the beginning, but the show did a good checking in her optimism with realism as seen in the end.

Overall, the show was centered on Se-ra, but it used her as a launching pad in a way to show that change is cyclical. It eventually comes around, and the change that Se-ra inflicted was evident by how she effected others around her into becoming more lively and bright again. Its unfortunate that the show was never given a chance by KBS to succeed, but I'm glad that it found a small community that did enjoy it in the end!

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Such a fun drama. I hope to see the two leads in more dramas.

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Just wanted to say thank you to all the beanies that recommended this drama in the "What We're Watching" comments! I saw the name repeated over and over last week and then went and binged this entire drama in one night ><

The couple was sooo wonderful and I loved how so many of the characters had so many dimensions.

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Who would've thought this little drama would turn into such a treat to watch! I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end.

I will certainly miss Se-ra and Gong-myung. Kudos to Nana and Park Sung-hoon for bringing us such fun to watch characters.

And thanks for the recaps!

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They never answer what happened to Gong myung's mother. We can guess, I suppose, that she was not alive anymore. Otherwise he would had mentioned her or communicated with her all through... 😐

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Yeah, they never went fully explained what exactly happened back then, but I think it was implied once or twice Gong-myung's mother has since passed. That was also partly why Chairman Jo was the one to sign the release form for the Sarang Resort Fire Memorial

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Loved it!
Clearly the contest winner of "To Find a Shooting Star in the Desert" (?) deserved the prize for the script.
Keep on writing, please, and give us more of your drama ideas - without noble idiocy, with grey villains (Ahn Nae Sang giving another great performance... I just love how he uses his body language, for example the way he sometimes just stands there like a crooked, wind-beaten tree, as seen in the ending scene when his "apology" is justly denied by his now grown son) and realistically showing that it is not the wins/results that count but that you grow along the way of bravely making decision after decision to the best of your knowledge and belief.

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Yes, the writer deserves praise for such a strong, refreshing debut. I hope we see much more of her work in the future.

"the way he sometimes just stands there like a crooked, wind-beaten tree" - This encapsulates his performance perfectly. Couldn't have said it better! I felt this in the way he moved, as well.

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This is definitely my favorite RomCom drama this year! Loved the casts, cinematography and musical score. The chemistry between the leads is top notch! I hope more people will watch this drama since it really delivers strong message of hope, acceptance and love.

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What a good-feel refreshing drama~
I loved it, even though I wanted some more profound closure for the characters, and we didn't get that save for Sera's clique from the bookshop. The last times we saw the rest, they were pretty mundane situations.

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This show was awesome and the finale really came full circle in a humble and truly believable way. How the omni-present congressman Jo just faded away when his minions faltered was a hefty dose of karma as well as sad.

My only qualms with the series was Min-jae. I never understood the purpose of the character's story. He served as the viewer's gateway to the schemes in the district office. I think it would have fit better if he, instead of being Se-ra's boyfriend of nine years, had been her boy-next-door crush and someone who had evolved in his own set trajectory. Being with someone for so long, that sense of familiarity needs to manifest. You don't just get over it. I felt a bit lost in their scenes, trying to piece together a history that wasn't there.

I loved how the children took the matter of the memorial stone into their own hands. A small change begins with a small gesture, like Se-ra's arduous civil complaints concerning the buss sign. I'm thinking, maybe I need to start writing my own district office time to time.

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