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Kairos: Episodes 15-16 Open Thread (Final)

In a powerful finale, Kairos delivers everything we were expecting and more—a satisfying, emotionally resonant resolution of our heroes’ journeys so far. As always, the attention to detail and excellent performances bring this story to vivid life. These characters have burrowed into my heart, and I’m sad to say goodbye.

 
EPISODES 15-16 WEECAP

With Kim Jin-ho comatose in both timelines, Present Ae-ri and Seo-jin focus on taking care of Jin-ho’s daughter, Ji-ah, and bringing down the Lieutenant Park, the policeman who killed Seo-jin’s dad, attacked Jin-ho, and is their main suspect for Ae-ri’s murder.

Fortunately, Ji-ah confesses to Ae-ri that she saw the attack from her bed, and bravely identifies Park. He’s put behind bars, saving Ae-ri’s life.

In the future, Chairman Yoo bails Taek-kyu out. Realizing that they can’t wait for Jin-ho anymore, Future Seo-jin comes up with a dangerous plan. He convinces Yoo he has The Recording, meeting him at an abandoned rooftop for the exchange.

In a nice echo of his father’s actions, Seo-jin prompts Yoo to admit that he purposely exploded Taejung Town to benefit his company. He’s chillingly blase about it, saying that he only gave meaningful deaths to people who would’ve died anyway.

Disgusted, Seo-jin reveals his bluff, and that he recorded the conversation. Yoo’s men throw him off the top of the building. Over the phone, Present Ae-ri and Seo-jin listen in horror, but they’ve recorded Yoo’s confession.

Seo-jin’s alternate memories reveal Hyun-chae and Do-kyun’s betrayal. He tells Do-kyun about Hyun-chae’s past and warns him that he’ll die at the hands of her father. Do-kyun confronts Hyun-chae’s father anyway. Both men die this time, too.

Their plot thrown off by all the changes in their timeline, Seo-jin and Ae-ri move up the schedule for the rooftop confrontation. They stop Yoo’s men from killing Seo-jin, and their recording is enough to have him indicted.

Jin-ho wakes up and testifies at Yoo’s hearing, playing the elusive original recording, which seals the deal.

He apologizes to Seo-jin for the kidnapping plot, and turns himself in, which means Hyun-chae is charged, too. Seo-jin informs her that he’s divorcing her and taking sole custody of Da-bin.

Ae-ri and Seo-jin finally have that gathering they’d planned, taking their families on a joint camping trip. 10:33 loses its power, becoming like any other minute of the day.

Y’all. What an excellent finale week. My only complaint is that now this show is over, and I won’t get to see Seo-jin and Ae-ri solving mysteries and beating the bad guys together every week. I was wondering what on earth the show could pull out in its finale that would surpass what we’ve seen before—it seemed like a straightforward issue of tracking down The Recording and passing it to authorities.

But they really went for it with Seo-jin sacrificing his own life for the sake of justice. What a gut punch, and a beautiful mirror to his father’s bravery 19 years ago.

It was a brave writing choice to kill both protagonists in the course of the drama, giving it even greater stakes just when the story might have begun to lag or feel repetitive. Ae-ri’s death not only motivated Gun-wook to team up with Seo-jin, it brought her mother on board, and revealed Lieutenant Park’s continued involvement as Yoo’s minion. And Seo-jin’s death allowed them to go all out in getting Yoo to confess, trusting themselves to be able to intervene before it was truly too late.

I love how it demonstrated the deep level of trust between our heroes, the incredible teamwork and friendship they’ve built up over time. The two timelines collapsed into one once Seo-jin no longer existed in the future to talk to Ae-ri, ramping up the tension to a fever pitch for the finale. (I keep saying this, but the directing is SO GOOD.)

I wasn’t sure at first why Seo-jin warned Do-kyun, and the drama never quite reveals his motive, but I wonder if it was a show of mercy toward Hyun-chae. Perhaps he felt some pity once he saw how devastated she was by Do-kyun’s death, and heard about her abusive childhood. She was willing to quietly leave Da-bin and Seo-jin’s lives. But I kind of love that the show leaves it ambiguous. The scene near the end when Seo-jin goes to visit Hyun-chae in jail is perfect. He doesn’t hold any more anger toward her, but he doesn’t have patience for her self-pity either. She was the architect of her own destruction.

At the moment he finds out the truth about his wife, when Ae-ri asks Seo-jin if he regrets becoming connected across time with her, Seo-jin replies, “Whether in the past, present or future, I never expected a life without pain. But I’ve come to know that there’s no hope unless I face the truth.” Exposing and dealing with painful truths certainly seems to be the thesis of the drama, and the purpose of the connection across time that Ae-ri’s dad somehow allowed them to have. That’s echoed nicely at the end of the drama, when they both acknowledge that they no longer need to know the future. The kairos has fulfilled its purpose; they’re both happy to live in the moment now with their loved ones.

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I absolutely loved this drama, loved the main actor, and kinda low key wished for the two leads to fall in love, but also happy she ended up with her friend. Really well done. Great suspense. Also happy he got custody of Da Bin. The old man was something.

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It was a great finale and overall I love Kairos. It kept me on the edge of my seat every week. I low key shipped Aeri and Seo Jin too :)
Interestingly, I found out recently that Lee Se Young & Shin Sung Rok previously acted in Trot Lovers together. Any beanies recommend that I check out Trot Lovers for these two?

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Yeah, special shout-out to the old man, the magnificent Shin Goo, who was perfect as the magnate who tries to present his selfish cynicism as benevolent pragmatism. I particularly loved his reaction to the recording of his own voice saying things that he knows he didn't say BUT could easily have said to Seo-jin: bewilderment, then recognition of and what looks like pride in his own ideas, and finally absolute confidence that the recording is fake and no one can touch him. Chairman Yoo is not as interesting as some other K-drama magnates (President Seo in 2012's The Chaser comes to mind), but he is still a fantastic two-faced villain.

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I never trusted from the beginning, not only because there's nothing like a good CEO in dramaland, but also because I could never buy his softness and concern. That self confidence you are talking about (but in the "wrong way, if I may say it) was something that was showing from the beginning: the self confidence of someone who does whatever he wants whenever he wants and would never be punished for it because he believes he's doing nothing wrong because he's entitled to do as he pleases.

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To @katakwasabi and @laica, thank you for my enjoyment of Kairos weecaps and my pleasure fun watching of this.

I knew that 10:34pm thing had just appeared for the final episode. I felt glad that there's no need for season 2 for me.

I still loved SSR and I'm now a full-time fan and my fave for him. Along with SSR (who was busy with SBS reality show Master in the House), we wished all the cast and crew behind Kairos a safest year and good luck on all the next projects be successful enough.

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Super solid ending. I guess I was just spoiled by the rest of the show keeping me guessing, but I did find it a bit predictable. I will say since that’s my biggest gripe with it, it’s way above most kdrama endings in recent memory. Our leads were awesome all the way through, and I kept hoping for some redemption from the antagonists (besides the chairman...we all know kdrama CEO’s are pure evil).

I’m a sucker for time travel, and everything about this drama was on point. The direction, the acting, the pacing, all great. I’ll definitely be recommending it to folks interested in a good show to watch (as I felt it was pretty underrated the whole way through by most).

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I was kind of sad that DoKyun chose to confront HyunChae's dad knowing he could die or at last end up in jail. His sick love for her was the one who drove him there, and sincerely I don't think there's a way they could have been redeemed: they had planned the kidnapping and suicide, and then framing SeoJin for the materials, they were trash. Yet, I like how the drama showed us their motivations, making them human with flaws you could at least understand.

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You’re not wrong. I suppose just those small moments when they seemed touched/reflective had me hoping :D Their obsessions definitely warped their whole world views and impacted them pretty drastically in the end.

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While it's true that the villain was defeated in a pretty mundane way (i.e. via not one but two recordings of him rather implausibly admitting to his crimes), it’s the way it was done that was fresh and exciting. The recordings themselves are a trope, but what’s new is that they are recordings of almost exactly the same thing, said incorrigibly by the same person on two different occasions 15 years apart. And the guy chooses to say the same thing even in an alternative future. It’s a really amazing way to underline the cyclical nature of good, evil and life itself.

And there were other surprises. I expected Seo-jin to tell Do-kyun the truth (cos SJ has always struck me as being honest to a fault), and DK to try harder to persuade Hyun-chae to run away with him. But what actually happened makes more sense. Last week HC told DK she regretted nothing; SJ said she deeply regretted DK’s death - ergo, the only thing DK could do to make her see the light was to die for her.

It’s stuff like the above that demonstrates once and for all that a good cast and creative team can do wonders with a clutch of tropes wrapped in an overused genre. The passionate female lead, the cold male lead, the collapsing building, the adulterous couple, the mean mercenaries, etc etc - they are all here, but every single one of them is never less than compelling, and fits perfectly in the dazzlingly convoluted time-crossing narrative.

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Such a great encapsulation of this show, especially your last paragraph! This show is all in the execution, which has been stellar from start to finish.

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The last episodes confused me with the different timelines and all the changes, it was kinda repetitive. But in a general way, it was a great drama. I really love the fact that the story was consistent with its own rules until the end, the fantastic element worked very well. It was nice to see the characters unify to fight together. They formed a pretty good team! It was nice touch that Kim Seo Jin gave the winning lottery numbers to Gun Wook to help him and Ae Ri.

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I loved the show's use of lottery numbers! I remember the first time SJ did it, how pleasantly surprised I was that the number he gave AR was specifically for the second prize which approximated the amount GW had stolen from her. And then he does it for GW, who in turn uses it to chauffeur his gang around and perform a bit of subtle PPL.

It's also another instance of things coming full circle, like the stars scenes that @katakwasabi mentions below. I only noticed the cycles with the bad things, like SJ losing his father and daughter, AR losing her father and mother and Chairman Yoo spouting the same self-justifying crap, so I'm glad Beanies here have pointed out the good cycles!

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Hehe. Another one that repeated is Aeri mum calling Chairman Yoo. Earlier in the series she was all alone during the phonecall, adamant to keep any info from Aeri. In ep 16, she was the one who made the phonecall to Chairman Yoo, this time with Aeri by her side. Chairman Yoo had to believe her because she was the 1st caller a few months ago. That's one of the key difference between future Seojin plan vs present Seojin-Aeri plan, Aeri omma played an important role for their plan to move forward in the present.

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Another parallel scene : Aeri running down the escalator to save Dabin in ep 8 and Aeri running up the escalator to save Dabin appa, Seojin in ep 16. Hehe.

Not only that, knetz also interpreted the main group poster.
1. The arrangement of characters is anticlockwise, as if to tell that they will turn back time.
2. 10:33 is written clearly near Seojin and Aeri, there's also 10:33 written near Dogyun but there's no 10:33 near Hyunchae, as if to tell who will experience the 10:33 calls.
3. After the finale, they also interpreted that the character position is their condition after ep 16. Aeri and Seojin are upright, living happily. Dogyun is upside down, he's dead. Hyunchae is sideways, she's alone and in regret.

ps: Thanks knetz for their attention to details 😆

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Thanks so much for your great recaps and comments, Laica. And also to all the beanies. It was been fantastic having this place to discuss about this show.

The only thing I didn't love about the ending is that it ended. This drama has been such a rollercoaster, such a fun ride, and a beautiful story about learning to trust others really well acted, directed and written. A perfect team, I can't say it enough.

I loved how the show payed attention to characters, even the side characters were so well written and defined we could understand their motivations, whether they were moved by desperation, greed or love. I want to praise Kang Seung Yoon and specially Park Ho Young. His Det. Park was present in every single timeline and had a special part on whatever happened but as the future changed and he couldn't remember the past as the timeline was erased I could see how he still was there, his true concern about SeoJin and his situation.

And of course hands down to SSK and LSY because without them this drama couldn't have been as perfect as it has been.

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Agree wholeheartedly about Park Ho Young's Det. Park. I want him in a sweet romance drama right now. Wouldn't he make the best widower finding love again?

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OMG, it seems last time I wrote my comment on dramabeans was 2months ago. I have been do busy with work and trying to balance watching like 5kdramas at the same time means writing about them took lesser importance.
This drama was absolutely gripping from beginning till end. But it seems changing the past or present or future it clearly showed the outcome may not be satisfying. Doing your best is always the best.

Well acted all around,it just shows no Chairman in kdrama world is ever good,and many business ppl always have the idea doin things for the greater of more ppl is good although some may get left behind. Well that is all for my write up.

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I don't know if anyone else here noticed that Dabin and Seojin conversation about stars at the end of ep 16, is the same way the pair were introduced in ep 1. And it's amazing to see how different they were back then and now. In ep 1, Dabin wanted to stick stars on her room ceiling but dad was too busy to entertain her. Now, they are stargazing together and having conversations about stars and the solar system. I went: 'awwwww' as I watched them. So cute!

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Yes! That was so sweet! I'm so glad DaBin has now his dad this close, as he learned how hard life would be without her. She will need him so much, as growing without her mum would be so tough for her.

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Such a lovely parallel. The details in this drama, I swear. I wish I'd had the time to do full recaps for this show, it really deserves a deep dive!

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What does Kairos mean ?

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Kairos means the right, critical or opportune moment.

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I loved this show, it was suspenseful, smart and imaginative. The only negative was Hyun Chae's father storyline. It didn't make sense. Why not have your murderer for hire, Taek Kyu, kill him. Why did she want Tae Kyung to kill her husband instead. That was the only negative for me, the rest was really excellent.

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I agree. She showed she didn't have any issue with killing, so why not her father? Truck of doom is so overused in drama but not here? :p

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I thought maybe killing SJ and flying off with Da-bin to a new life would allow her to keep his money and escape her dad. Whereas killing her dad would mean she could be suspected of his death (since she is the only person with a motive) and still be stuck with a (maybe suspicious) husband whom she didn't love. Also, I don't think she wanted the mess of killing anyone to begin with, but Do-kyun's kidnapping scheme falling through etc meant she got more and more desperate, to the point where she eventually tried to kill her dad herself.

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@kafiyah-bello I said the same thing to my sister. I couldn't understand why Hyun-Chae never hired someone to kill her father. This would've taken care of a thorn in her side and allowed her to continue with her plans without fear of exposure.

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Another problem with killing her father, IMO, is that it would expose her relation to him immediately. The cops would definitely look for next of kin, and their father-daughter relationship and the name her adoptive parents gave her are a matter of record. I guess she could have just paid Taek-kyu to dispose of the body properly, and she didn't have to tell him who the body was either, but I get the impression that it was very important to her that no one, not even TK, should ever know that she was connected to the guy in any way. I mean, she hid him so well that for a while some of us thought he was a figment of her imagination...

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@knewbie This makes sense. I understand what you mean about the importance of know one in her life learning the truth about her past.

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I don't think she could have been adopted if anybody knew that she had a father.

The father was poor and alcohoolic, not sure that police would have investigated very thoroughly his death. Any burglar could have been the killer.

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I understand your reasoning, but I think if he had died they would have chalked it up to a drunk dying. That whole storyline was off for me.

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@laica Thank you for another recap. The scene where Hyun-Chae imagines that Do-Kyun is still alive made me sad for what could've been between these two. What would their lives have been like if they hadn't chosen to go down the path of revenge and greed.

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The ending sequence of Episode 15 starting with both Seo-jin’s getting in the elevator was so well done.

Episode 16 was perhaps a tad anti-climatic, but it was still satisfying, with everyone getting what they deserved. I'm glad Hyun-chae and even Jin-ho were going to get some sort of punishment for the planned kidnapping.

Geun-wook's confession to Ae-ri was sweet.

Kairos was a drama I wasn't even planning to watch but became one of my favorites of the year. Just really well done, with great writing, directing, and acting.

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What a ride!
I wasn't expecting anything when I watched the first episode but kept on coming back for more because it was sooooo good. Definitely one of the BEST dramas I've seen.

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Oh and yay for my ship! Geunwook and Aeri ♥
He confessed and paid back the money he stole! lol

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Yay he paid her money back. But when GW confessed...Aeri didn't even blink...and went straight to Seojin and talked about stars and wishes...in an alternate universe, these two are figuring it out hahahahahahahahahaha 😂

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I don't know why they did not include a back story on how Do Kyun got into Yujung Construction. Was it thru Hyunchae? I wished they provided an explanation...
Anyhoo, I am still satisfied and happy with the ending.

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Yeah we got a flashback of HC sort of dumping DK, and one of HC setting her sights on Seo-jin, but we never see how or why HC resumes her relationship with DK. Maybe it's just as well, cos it was painful enough to see them carrying on behind SJ's back.

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That too! How did they resume their affair?
Anyway , overall it’s still an awesome drama 😊

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The implication is that she got back in touch with him when her father found her. He asks her if that was why she got back together with him, and she doesn't deny it.

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Ohhhhh I wasn’t paying attention. Thank you, Laica!

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Not much to add to what's already been said by others but this is definitely one of my favourite thrillers maybe ever. The direction and editing were A+.

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Loved this show. But I have a doubt...what was the use of recording (and sacrificing ) in future when Seo Jin could have done the same in the past timeline as well?
Do help me guys to understand this one bit :)

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The recording by future Seojin was used as proof against Chairman Yoo. Imo, if Seojin in past timeline did the same thing as future Seojin did, he will be really dead.

The sacrificing is to put closure to the future timeline: both future Aeri and future Seojin are dead in ep 15. In ep 16, it was in past/present timeline, they have to work fast to save both their future.

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Thanks for the explanation!

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The normal sequence of things would be: (1) get Yoo to confess by pretending that the earlier evidence is in your possession (2) record his confession (3) hand the recording to the cops (4) get murdered by Yoo’s henchmen while the cops and prosecutors investigate. (And this is assuming that 4 doesn’t happen before 3.) To summarise: you must prove to Yoo that you have the earlier evidence in order to get him to confess, but the problem is that once he knows that you know, you’re dead.

The advantage of the Kairos way is that FUTURE YOO knows FUTURE Seo-jin knows, and kills him for it, but there is no way PAST YOO can know that PAST SJ also knows. This gives PAST SJ and Ae-ri up to a month to set the scene safely: giving the cops the audio file; claiming that SJ had recorded it on 15 Oct and was being threatened by Yoo as a result; and making sure that Yoo really does end up on the roof threatening SJ, so that the cops can catch him red-handed.

I think SJ and AR had been preparing for the showdown to occur on 15 Nov, i.e. as they had heard it occurring on AR’s phone. But because Do-kyun’s death raised questions about the Taejung New Town project, Yoo got Lee Taek-kyu out of jail to deal with the troublemakers earlier than expected, so SJ and AR had to get Yoo on the roof on 23 Oct instead of 15 Nov.

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Thanks a lot for such brilliant explanation!! Now I'm happy :)

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I love this drama so much. I’m im-patiently waiting on eng subs to finish watching the finale.

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this drama lifted its way to be in my 10 year Top Ten...

well, i'll have to revisit that list, but i really, REALLY enjoyed this drama!

so many *finger hearts* to the whole drama, no complaints about a hasty ending or sloppy tying up ends... it just was a very good ride! i don't need a certain ending (happy, sad, having a romantic pairing where there shouldn't be, etc.). i'm so glad it just ended as it should have.

i waited/stalled for days to finish this series. i think, i truly think i didn't want it to end.... so i stalled for days....
; )

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I love this comment a knetz wrote. I didn't notice this while watching, reading recaps, commenting about the finale until I read it on twitter:

The future has changed because of the past every time. At the end, the past has changed because of the future.

T_T

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Beautiful!

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Thank you so much for recapping this drama Laica, I enjoyed these weecaps so much.
What a wonderful show and I wish we could have one more episode of Seo-jin and Ae_ri spending time with their loved ones.

Hyun-chae, there was no need to take things that far and I'm relieved that she has been arrested to pay back some of her crimes. I hope she gets the help she needs in time. it's great to see that the story started and ended with jin-ho revealing the truth and with him finally apologising to Seo-jin.
I'm relieved seo-jin and da-bin now have another support system with Ae-ri and her family. I'm sure they will be a part of each others lives and remind each other how important it is to cherish the present.

Chairman too was despicable, I can't believe that it came down to money, so many families hurt because of his greed.
He needed to be punished more along with Taek-kyu. Again Taek-kyu, his motive was money? One thing, I wanted the show to answer was how Do-kyun and Taek-kyu met. Also if Do-kyun met hyun-chae again at the company concert or if he was always dating her since college?

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Taekgyu and Dogyun are schoolmates or from the same hometown. It was shared when Seojin did a background check way in the drama 1st half.

It is implied that HC approached Dogyun again after her father reappeared and they started plotting stuff afterwards.

:)

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I kind of liked the relationship between Taek-kyu and Do-kyun. They were making use of one another, but there was also a twisted kind of loyalty.

Another thing you've reminded me about: Even though it was her dad's reappearance that had made HC get back together with DK, even when DK wanted to deal with her dad for her in the later episodes, HC would never let DK near her dad. It makes me think that HC, fearless in other situations, was truly terrified of her dad. It wasn't just that he could disrupt her life and identity as the elegant, violin-playing lady from a rich family. I think his having emerged from the fire as an even more threatening figure had turned him into a sort of indestructible demon for her, someone whom nobody could defeat.

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Great solid ending!! IMO I prefer aeri and seojin not falling in love bc they seem more like siblings to me. Their age difference could be 10 years ngl!! ALso, geonwook and aeri kinda cute together despite the fact that he scammed her (woops). Seo Dokyun was Hyunchae's gift for her hard life. He's so loving and loyal...he let her marry another dude and just keep waiting for her for 10 years. Even when he knows he'll die because of her, he continues to protect her. Hyunchae really dug her own grave bc of her greed. She didn't treasure dokyun, the person who cares abt her the most

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At the last episode, Hyun-Chae’s has finally realized what’s truly important in her life after losing Do-Gyun. I find this intriguing because when SJ lost his wife and his kid in episode 1, he realized how much he really treasures them in his heart. I can’t help but compare the character development of SJ and HC of episode 1 and the last episode. Losing their precious ones is the only way they would come to their humanity. We see SJ finally becoming an active dad to Dan Bin and we see HC finally opening up to SJ showing humanity.

Somewhere deep in my heart, despite everything that happened, I still wanted HC, SJ, and Danbin to be a family. For some reason, I just felt empathy for HC and how her character came to be all psycho and twisted.
I’m not saying that we should justify HC’s actions but to understand that she was lost and didn’t know what to do her whole life. As a means of surviving she tried to kill her dad and this might be the start of her demented way of solving problems. This leads me to wonder if there is a deeper meaning why she married SJ and stayed with him a while.

In the Prison Scene, we get to understand the motive of HC a little better.

Investigator: “You could have just divorced him. Why did you do all of this?” “Was it for money?”

HC: “It was… all because of my greed” “At that time, I had gone to submit paperwork withdrawing from school” “I was getting tired of the poor man I was living with, then I met you” “You seemed like the savior who could help me recover everything I had lost” “I was struggling because I didn’t want to lose anything” “But I lost everything that was precious to me”

It’s quite intriguing why HC did not divorce SJ early on. I thought that it was because of the money, but something still doesn’t feel right. I honestly thought that HC saw a future with SJ where she will gain love, social status, and a family. If HC had gained that from SJ from the start, I think she will not have gotten this far in the drama. SJ was shown to have a cold personality and was always busy for his family. However, when their family went to a camping trip HC has shown a bit of humanity. What SJ has been a warm husband continuously from the start? Would things have changed?

Despite of SJ knowing that his wife cheats, he still cared for her and fulfilled his role as a husband and a father. From reading the analysis post, I agree with Lacia that SJ may have shown mercy to HC when he warned Do-Kyun of his impeding death. He knows that HC cares for DK. If only SJ knew early on about her abusive childhood from the start… would it have changed anything?

It’s an unpopular opinion but I still hoped that SJ and HC would not continue with the divorce. I truly think that HC could still work it out with SJ whom she sees as a “savior”. Thanks to DK’s sacrifice that HC finally gains humanity and snaps out of her twister mind of thinking. I wished that she still gets to be a mother to Dan Bin and a wife to SJ.

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