Was It Love: Episode 16 (Final)
Love doesn’t come easily, so our couple is thrown one final hurdle before they can be with one another. With their relationship being scrutinized under the spotlight, some hard decisions are made to protect their love.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
After their date, our couple lingers in the car, not yet ready to part. Dae-oh stops Ae-jung from responding to his confession, too nervous to hear it. He swears he’s not as self-centered as before and is willing to wait patiently for Ha-nee to be ready. Loving how considerate he’s being, Ae-jung beams and plants a kiss on his cheek.
She thanks him for his patience and says that he made her very happy today. She was able to return to school and graduate, and even got proposed to. Ae-jung asks for just a little more time to help Ha-nee open up, but it’s a clear “yes.” Unable to hold back anymore, Dae-oh clumsily unbuckles his seatbelt to give her a kiss while Ae-jung protests that people will catch them.
Ha-nee flips through a copy of Love Doesn’t Exist with the expository forum post in mind. While the book claims that he fell ill because his lover left him, the post says that Cheon Eok-man threw away his pregnant girlfriend and child.
Ae-jung sneaks into the house but is caught by Ha-nee. Judging by how happy Mom looks, Ha-nee can tell that she isn’t yet aware of the rumors surrounding the writer. She hands Mom the book and asks if it’s true that Dae-oh wrote about Ae-jung in a bad light on purpose.
Meanwhile, Dae-oh gets a call from Editor Hong who frantically gives him the rundown on the situation. Although the original post has been deleted, the malicious rumors are spreading everywhere. Dae-oh clicks into an article and the comments are filled with fans who hope it isn’t true. People are also linking Ae-jung to these rumors because of the clip from the book concert.
Ae-jung heads to the office where Hye-jin briefs her on another huge problem – there’s no money left in their bank account. Ae-jung notices that their bankbook is gone and astutely determines that CEO Wang was behind this.
CEO Song reads the Cheon Eok-man article in her office and Reporter Na notes that she doesn’t look too happy when she should feel satisfied with her revenge. She claims that while she did want to make them pay, all she truly wanted was take back what was hers. CEO Song suggests that this should be their last meeting, and he says that they’re both trash.
The next morning, Editor Hong finds Dae-oh at home, sitting solemnly in front of a box of ripped up books that someone sent. While the editor is upset about their hard work going down the drain, Dae-oh’s more focused on ensuring Ae-jung’s name stays out of this.
Editor Hong is frustrated that Dae-oh is more worried about someone else. He wants Ae-jung to tell everyone the truth. “Either that, or you can kiss your career goodbye!” he yells. However, Dae-oh doesn’t feel worthy enough to be an author, having affected Ae-jung’s life with his work.
When Dae-oh gets to Thumb Film, he sees that Ae-jung is dealing with angry staff members who say that as the victim, she should’ve turned down the movie in the first place. They all decide to drop out and demand to be paid for their services thus far.
Although Ae-jung instructed Hye-jin not to let Dae-oh into the meeting, he enters and announces that he’ll pay them. Dae-oh decides to take full responsibility as the writer and director, inviting the staff to discuss any issues with him in his office.
After they leave, Hye-jin worriedly tells Ae-jung that Dae-oh seems to blame himself. Dae-oh sits in his office and remembers how happy Ae-jung was to officially become a movie producer.
Ae-jung texts Dae-oh to meet at the rooftop. She has prepared a camp-like setup, reminiscent of the time he did the same for her. Back then, she was upset that their camping trip was cancelled, so Dae-oh set up camp in his bedroom, told jokes to cheer her up, and whipped up “Oh Dae-oh’s Special Ramyun,” made with equal parts love and adoration, hee.
She recreates that exact date now, using his own joke to get a laugh out of him. He gives in and tries her version of his ramyun recipe. Although he enjoys it, Dae-oh points out that she claimed to have forgotten their past. Ae-jung confesses, “Every moment we shared was like a scene from a movie, so how could I forget?”
Ae-jung suggests that they work together to face the upcoming adversity, but Dae-oh drops the bomb that he wants to scrap the movie. He doesn’t want their story to be told in the form of a lie, and promises to protect her dreams and Ha-nee, too.
Ah-rin is pissed to learn about the new situation that’s affecting their movie, since she believes she did everything she could to let them rekindle their love. She spots Ryu Jin being bombarded by reporters just outside their training facility. They ask if his rumored child is actually the author’s daughter. Ryu Jin breaks his silence when Ae-jung’s name is mentioned, “Didn’t I warn you about mentioning people’s actual names to the public?”
The reporters get on his nerves but before he can refute their claims, Ah-rin joins in and yells at them for digging into the lives of non-celebrities. Poor Manager Do attempts to do damage control by pretending that she’s swearing because she’s practicing her acting. Ryu Jin is pretty impressed and echoes her statement telling the reporters not to cross the line.
Eyes glued to the TV, Grandma mutters, “That’s not true,” when the hosts claim that Cheon Eok-man played the part of the victim to protect himself after abandoning his girlfriend. She shuts it off when Ha-nee comes home, but Ha-nee says there’s no need to be secretive about it.
She tells Grandma that she didn’t do anything when her classmates spoke poorly about Dae-oh, when she should’ve defended him. She just didn’t know how to, although she instinctively knows that Dae-oh’s a good guy. She cries as Grandma hugs her in reassurance.
Ae-jung consults Sook-hee for advice. “Protecting Dae-oh will hurt Ha-nee, but protecting Ha-nee will hurt Dae-oh,” Ae-jung sighs. Just as things were starting to look up, she’s pulled back into her destiny of living in pouring rain.
Sook-hee reminds Ae-jung, “Still, there’ll come a day when the sun shines brightly on you because you always did your best.” She trusts that Ae-jung will be able to protect both of her loved ones, because she’s Ae-jung.
2013. Sook-hee was a regular at Ha-nee’s Chicken, a restaurant run by the family of three. She was drinking alone one night, looking pained while clutching a sonogram in her hand. Sook-hee overheard Grandma worrying about the fact that they’ll be kicked out of their house, while Ae-jung was positive that things would work out fine.
Sook-hee spoke up and invited them to live in her house – it’s too big for her anyway, and she can stay in the empty room at Sukey. Ae-jung wondered how she could just trust them like that, and Sook-hee answered that it’s because Ae-jung never gave up on her dream, her baby, or her life.
Dae-oh meets Ha-nee at a café and she points out his haggard face, commenting that he must be having a tough time. He doesn’t deny it and asks how she’s doing, but Ha-nee reminds him that she doesn’t need a dad. She gently suggests him to worry about Ae-jung instead. Dae-oh apologizes, finding himself pathetic.
He chokes up when Ha-nee disagrees and says that she trusts him. It’s obvious to her that he loves Ae-jung a lot, and wouldn’t purposely write about her like that. Dae-oh explains that due to a misunderstanding, they thought they had abandoned each other. He apologizes for getting Ha-nee caught up in their mess.
As she processes the truth behind her parents’ separation, Ha-nee assures him that she grew up happily thanks to Mom and Grandma even if life was a little rough without a father. She smiles, giving him her blessings, which brings him to tears.
Dae-oh drops Ha-nee off at home and hands her a gift, telling her to open it some other day. They sweetly wish each other a goodnight and Ha-nee can’t help but keep looking back at Dae-oh’s smiling face. Aww.
The following day, Ae-jung finds Director Kim waiting at the office. He’s the director of the film she was working on prior to this project. Apparently, Thumb Film will now co-produce the movie with him, since the production of Love Doesn’t Exist is on an indefinite hold.
Ae-jung’s unable to reach Dae-oh, but Pa-do shows up to explain that it was Dae-oh’s idea for everybody to join the production of No One But My Man. Ryu Jin and Ah-rin will remain the leads.
Yesterday, Dae-oh had pulled Pa-do aside to give him the script. He explained that it’s a project that Ae-jung once poured everything into, but was unable to produce it because the company went bankrupt. In a stroke of luck, the film was never produced because they ran into casting and financial problems. With the entire Thumb Film team sans Dae-oh, Ae-jung will be able to debut, and it won’t be with a fake story.
Ae-jung shows up at Dae-oh’s place and is stunned to find him packing up. She cries, hurt that he planned to leave without telling her. Ae-jung asks if Dae-oh thinks she’d be grateful to be handed this project after losing his.
Dae-oh explains that he needs some time to re-write the true love story between him, Ae-jung, and Ha-nee. He can’t do it by their side because people will always drag him back into the limelight unless he disappears. To ease the tension, he jokes that Cheon Eok-man writes in solitude.
Dae-oh promises that it won’t be long before they’ll meet again, once they’ve both achieved their dreams. He apologizes and hugs Ae-jung comfortingly as the tears stream down her face.
In her waiting room, Ah-rin has used up a mountain of tissues crying about her tarnished image. With her makeup all ruined, she wails about being called the “Foul-mouthed Angel.” Manager Do shows her a live broadcast that Ryu Jin is hosting, where he announces that the reporters were infringing on the rights of others.
He goes on to explain that while he was afraid to ruin his reputation and speak up, Ah-rin stepped up to protect the innocent. He says that she only swears at those who deserve it, and is everyone’s guardian angel. Manager Do is beyond excited about the shift in public sentiment, and Ah-rin wonders why he’s being so nice. “Does he like me?”
Ae-jung gets home to find Grandma cooking up a feast. Feeling helpless, she wanted to pack up some food for Dae-oh, who lives alone. She tells Ae-jung not to mind what others are saying. Ae-jung tells her mom that Dae-oh’s leaving for her and Ha-nee’s sake. Unable to hold it in anymore, Ae-jung sobs, “It’s breaking my heart, Mom.” Ha-nee sees them hugging and crying together.
She retreats back into her room and opens Dae-oh’s present. Ha-nee approves of the pair of shoes and finds a handmade scrapbook filled with photos from Dae-oh’s recent date with Ae-jung. It’s Dae-oh’s “Back to 2006” project and the captions explain their story.
Ha-nee reads the card: “This is when your mother was young and happy. I wanted to show her to you. Also, I’ll keep all the promises that you put on the checklist no matter what, so please believe in me. I’m so sorry, Ha-nee.” Tears fall when she sees that he checked “yes” to every condition she set, even the one that says that he swears to never leave Ae-jung’s side.
Fast forward to 2022, and the movie is a box office hit! With a bit of smartphone PPL, we see that Ae-jung has become acknowledged in her field and is even in discussion with an American investor regarding publishing rights.
Ryu Jin runs into CEO Song at a movie theater. She’s on her way to watch his film with her new star named Ryu Hyuk in tow, lol. She tells Ryu Jin that she doesn’t believe she was in the wrong and is still waiting for him to return to her. He shuts her down, but acknowledges that she brought him into the industry and sincerely thanks her for that.
At school, Ha-nee’s lost in thought while looking at her phone’s wallpaper – she set photos of Dae-oh and Ae-jung as her background. She smiles and holds up a set of VIP premiere tickets for her mom’s movie while watching some boys play soccer.
Dong-chan takes the ball and goes in for an attack, but misses when he attempts to score. Aww, Pa-do is cheering him on from the sidelines. He joins his disappointed son after the game, and it’s clear that they’ve grown close over the past two years.
Pa-do tells Dong-chan that timing is everything, so he should go for it once he makes a decision. Don’t hesitate. This advice seems to be relevant to his love life, because Dong-chan fumes at the sight of Ha-nee approaching another boy with her premiere tickets.
Before he heads over there, he and Pa-do do an elaborate handshake and aggressively open their cans of Coke the same way, ha! Dong-chan downs the soda and ruins Ha-nee’s chances of getting a date by interrupting with some burps. She complains about his actions later that night to her puppy, and Dong-chan grumbles that he didn’t want to stoop that low either.
At the premiere party, Pa-do helps Sook-hee set up the alcohol and although it seems like they’re both interested in each other, he just awkwardly asks about her relationship with Ae-jung.
Amused, Sook-hee answers that she’s many things but mainly, she’s someone who admires Ae-jung for her tenacity. She suggests having a toast as Ae-jung’s supporters, but is unfortunately interrupted by Manager Myung (now CEO Myung of Ryu Jin’s one-man agency.)
Unexpectedly, Bo-hye’s also in attendance as tonight is her weekly date night with Yeon-woo. She has grown closer with Grandma, eager to learn how to cook Yeon-woo’s favorite dishes. She has decided not to meddle in his business anymore and Grandma advises Yeon-woo to treat his mother well considering how much effort she’s putting in.
By the snack table, Ah-rin sidles up next to Ryu Jin and bluntly asks if he likes her. Now that filming is over, she hints that it’s the perfect time to confess. He blushes, shy about her boldness, pfft. Everybody gathers for the feast and raise their glasses to celebrate the premiere of their movie. Ae-jung imagines that Dae-oh came to congratulate her, sad that he’s not actually there.
When it comes time to pick a novel for their next project, Ae-jung grabs the number one recommendation named Last Love by Guido Orefice. The book dedication has the quote, “Dreams come true” (which is the title of Ae-jung’s graduation film.)
As she reads the first few lines, she imagines her and Dae-oh’s relationship playing out on-screen. “I met her once again. She took everything from me once again. It was fate. I was destined to fall in love with her once again.” She gets Hye-jin to set up a meeting with the author.
They meet on a rainy day, and Hye-jin tells Ae-jung that Guido Orefice is a rising European author whose work has become a bestseller after being translated and sold in Korea. Some say that he’s actually a Korean living abroad, but not much is known about him.
Although many film companies reached out to get the rights to his novel, Guido Orefice rejected them all because he’s waiting on one specific firm. When Ae-jung arrives at the café, she comes face-to-face with Dae-oh. Reminiscent of the first time they reunited, he sticks out his hand for a handshake, but retracts it when she doesn’t take it.
Tears well up in Ae-jung’s eyes as she asks, “Where have you been?” They both comment on the other’s success, and Dae-oh apologizes for returning late and making her wait sixteen years. “I’ve missed you,” he breathes, and the couple embraces, relieved to be reunited for good. As per usual, Dae-oh jokes around to lighten the mood.
Many years down the line, Ae-jung is dressed in a beautiful hanbok, holding the bride’s hand at a wedding ceremony. Pretty much everyone who was involved in the production of Love Doesn’t Exist is in attendance, including Bo-hye.
The four former suitors bicker as they enter the venue late, silenced by a single glare from Ae-jung. She then smiles, “Let’s go, Ha-nee,” and walks her daughter down the aisle where the groom waits. Aw, our cute Dong-chan succeeded in winning over his crush; I’d recognize that buzzcut anywhere! The four men watch proudly as Ha-nee walks down the aisle. Ryu Jin gives Dae-oh a little congratulatory shoulder squeeze, and Pa-do can’t help but to shed a tear.
While I was really happy to see how the lives of everyone changed for the better, I can’t believe the writers decided that a time skip was the way to go for the final episode. I’m frustrated with how this relationship has been portrayed throughout the duration of the show’s run. With Ae-jung and Dae-oh already having so much work to do to make their relationship work, this was not the best use of the final hour. I feel cheated of an actual resolution, because spending two years apart doesn’t make me suddenly believe in the strength of their love. Even though Dae-oh explained his reasoning behind his decision, it wasn’t so much of a discussion as it was a decision that he already made on behalf of them. He promised to work through the tough times together, and Ae-jung was more than ready to do that. Leaving for two years with zero contact achieves nothing, and leaves me feeling less invested in their story.
I also didn’t understand Ae-jung’s dilemma about hurting Dae-oh vs. hurting Ha-nee. Not taking action hurts both. There was only one simple solution to their problem, and it was to come out and say that the rumors were false. The truth was that Dae-oh wrote his novel based on his own understanding of how things unravelled, and he did not knowingly ditch his pregnant girlfriend. Even if it wasn’t based off his life exactly, I fail to understand the harsh reaction from his “fans” because Love Doesn’t Exist is in no way an autobiography (did fans think he was literally living in historical times, having a sword fight with his lover?). He never claimed that it was fact, and only agreed that it was based off his own experiences. While I did anticipate that he’d work on a brand new novel to tell the real story, I’m not exactly happy that they were forced apart for two entire years just to achieve that.
Although I was frustrated with how the main storyline panned out, I genuinely enjoyed tuning in every week to see what our characters were up to next. There’s some sort of addictive quality to it that made it hard for me to lose faith. To end on a positive note, I want to shout out the things I loved. Topping the list would be Ha-nee and Dong-chan’s growth. There was a lot of self-discovery and many heartstrings were pulled. I looked forward to watching them acting like mini adults, just trying to figure out this thing called life. Pa-do awkwardly trying to learn out how to be a dad and Sook-hee being a strong backbone for Ae-jung’s family were also great. They are amazing separately, but now, I wish that we got to see more interaction between these two characters throughout the run of the show. Also, they totally could have introduced Sook-hee’s backstory much earlier and explored it a bit more! Was It Love excelled best when it came to portraying familial love, and showed that it can extend to people outside of blood relations. Sook-hee and Yeon-woo were extensions of our core family, and the three women have so much love to give that it seems like the family continued to grow as time went on. Bo-hye looked genuinely happy at the wedding, and seemed to be close to Grandma. All four men wore white gloves, which traditionally only the family of the bride/groom wear. It’s just so good to know that Ha-nee and Ae-jung will truly never be lonely, with so much love and support by their side.
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