Monthly Magazine Home: Episode 16 (Final)
There are plenty of surprises left in store for our final episode, some more welcome than others. Our leads get the chance to re-experience their youth on a romantic getaway, but an unexpected family reunion leads to the discovery of a dark secret which has the potential to drive a wedge between them. Meanwhile, our second couple reach a crossroads in their relationship.
EPISODE 16: “A man who buys a house, a woman who has a home”
Ja-sung gets a message from Secretary Hwang to say that a buyer has been found for the apartment he’s currently living in and Young-won assumes that means he’ll be moving out soon, but Ja-sung tells her that he’s finally decided to stay put and settle down. He invites her to go with him to officially register his new permanent address, which he hasn’t done in over a decade since he’s never stayed in one place for more than a week at a time.
Ja-sung explains that the apartment isn’t just a place to spend the night to him anymore but a home, decorated by Young-won and filled with memories and warmth.
During an editorial meeting, Sang-soon proposes that their next travel article be about places often visited on school trips and the team reminisce about their own school vacations to Gyeongju. The mood turns awkward though when Ja-sung admits that he’s never been on a school trip because he always had to work part-time instead. Although he’s been all over the country on real estate surveys now he’s an adult, he’s still never just been on vacation.
Later, Young-won suggests that she and Ja-sung go on a trip to Gyeongju together so he can experience a school trip for himself. Young-won hasn’t been on vacation either since she was in school and her family’s financial situation changed drastically for the worse.
Young-won’s parents had been the victims of a real estate scam and lost all their savings after purchasing an apartment from a “friend” of her father’s which turned out to be already owned by someone else. She’d gotten home from school one day to find the place ransacked by thugs sent by loan sharks and her mom crying over a note from her dad telling them that he’d be back when he’d made some money. Young-won never saw her dad again.
Gyeom is amazed to hear that Ja-sung is willingly going to take a vacation after years of insisting it was a waste of his valuable time which he could be using to make money. He tells Young-won that Ja-sung has changed for the better since he met her, and seems much happier now.
Watching Ja-sung chat and laugh with Editor Choi and Sang-soon, Gyeom explains that he closed himself off emotionally after he was betrayed by someone he trusted, but Young-won’s influence has enabled him to open up and let others in again. Smiling fondly at Ja-sung, Gyeom tells Young-won that he hopes they enjoy their trip together and make good memories.
Sang-soon has been spending most of his nights at Eui-joo’s apartment lately — although he’s been lying to his parents that he’s working overtime — and he broaches the topic of marriage while they do couples yoga together, to her disgust.
He tries to convince her to at least think about it but Eui-joo shuts him down immediately, warning him furiously that if he wants to get married then he should date someone else. Sang-soon backs down quickly and agrees that they should just date for the rest of their lives instead, and the two of them head to the bedroom for another type of work-out.
Sang-soon and Young-won are working on the next article together, so Sang-soon sends her his photos of the man of nature’s hut in the woods. Young-won is stunned to realize that the man in the photos is her missing father, and immediately calls Sang-soon to demand the location of the hut.
Young-won lets her mom know what she’s discovered, and the next day the two of them hike into the woods to find her father. Young-won is overcome when she sees him for the first time in over a decade and runs towards him, but she’s overtaken by her mom.
Seeing his estranged wife running to him, Young-won’s dad waits with open arms to embrace her but ends up getting his hair pulled viciously instead. Overcome with rage at finding the man who abandoned her alive and well, Young-won’s mom attacks him furiously as Young-won tries desperately to pull her off.
Meanwhile, Ja-sung has suddenly realized that he has no idea what people do on vacation and since Young-won has the day off work for personal reasons, he turns to Sang-soon for advice instead. Pretending to take a professional interest in the travel article Sang-soon’s writing, Ja-sung asks for recommendations for where to go in Gyeongju.
Sang-soon suggests a few local attractions, while Editor Choi provides commentary about how he and his wife visited each place and ended up getting into a fight there. Eventually Ja-sung gets so irritated by these interjections that he drags Sang-soon away for a private consultation, leaving a crestfallen Editor Choi all alone.
In the woods, Young-won’s dad explains to his wife and daughter that after he left home he went to work on a deep-sea fishing vessel to earn money but got injured and had to give it up soon after. Too ashamed to return empty-handed, he turned his hand to any kind of work he could get to try and earn enough to pay his debts.
Young-won’s mom doesn’t buy her husband’s excuses and accuses him of abandoning them to his creditors to hide alone in the woods. She informs him that Young-won was forced to work all through college and has been paying their debt back steadily with every paycheck over the last decade, as he should have been doing.
Young-won is more sympathetic to what her dad’s gone through, and pleads with her mom to let him come back with them. Irritated, she acquiesces, but insists it’s just because she couldn’t bear the shame of having to introduce Young-won’s future husband to his new mountain man father-in-law one day.
Back at the office, Sang-soon’s parents have decided to pay their son a visit as they haven’t seen him for days because he’s supposedly been working overtime at the office. Over a homemade lunch, Sang-soon’s dad asks Editor Choi if he could at least let Sang-soon go home to sleep so that his mom won’t worry about him and Editor Choi agrees apologetically, shooting a knowing look at a guilty Sang-soon.
The conversation soon turns to marriage, and Sang-soon’s dad asks Eui-joo if she knows anyone she can set Sang-soon up with because they want him to get married and produce grandkids as soon as possible. They’re scandalized when Sang-soon, shooting glances at Eui-joo, tells them that he’s decided against ever getting married, and Eui-joo looks on awkwardly as they berate him.
Editor Choi comes to find Eui-joo afterwards and asks if she’s reconsidering things after seeing how set Sang-soon’s parents are on him getting married. She agrees that she is reconsidering — her relationship with Sang-soon.
Young-won’s dad looks like a different man after a shower and a shave, and her mom ruthlessly goes through his bags throwing out his old, scruffy clothes. He tells Young-won that looking at their family photo got him through a lot of tough times and apologizes for not being there for her as she was growing up, but she assures him that he can be there for her from now on, and watch her get married and have kids of her own.
Young-won’s dad asks if she has a boyfriend and she bashfully admits that she’s dating her boss, which delights her mom. She pulls up a photo of the two of them to show her dad, but it turns out he already knows Ja-sung — and he doesn’t look very happy about it.
Ja-sung is busy getting lessons in using a selfie stick from Gyeom in preparation for taking the perfect vacation photos of himself and Young-won. Gyeom smiles fondly as he watches Ja-sung diligently taking notes, and comments on how happy he seems these days.
Ja-sung tells Gyeom that it’s all thanks to him, because he wouldn’t be here today if Gyeom hadn’t supported him through the darkest days of his life. Ja-sung had worked at a construction site when he was younger and found out a coworker was struggling to get together the funds to purchase a house. The coworker — who just so happened to be Young-won’s dad — had always been good to Ja-sung so he offered to lend him the money he needed.
However, when Ja-sung came into work the next day he found out that Young-won’s dad had vanished after borrowing money from several different people. Ja-sung had rushed to his house but found the place completely cleared out and assumed, devastated, that he’d been a victim of a scam and his money had been stolen.
Ja-sung admits that he doesn’t know what he would have done back then without Gyeom, and Gyeom tells him that if he wants to thank him, Ja-sung should live thinking about his bright future rather than his unhappy past from now on.
Sang-soon finds Eui-joo sitting by herself in the archive, looking pensive, and tries to reassure her that he really doesn’t care about marriage, despite his parents. She smiles sadly and tells him to go home and see his parents after work instead of spending the night at her place again. After she’s left the room Sang-soon curses, worried that Eui-joo was hurt by what his parents said.
Ja-sung spends his evening studying up before his and Young-won’s trip to Gyeongju, determined to make it the best trip ever. He texts Young-won to tell her that he’s so excited for the next day that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to sleep.
Young-won stares despondently at Ja-sung’s message, remembering everything he’d said to her about how he felt so awful that he wanted to die after someone he trusted ran off with all his savings, and he was scarred so badly by the experience that he closed himself off from the world. Tears in her eyes, she texts back that they should make it a day they’ll never forget.
Ja-sung has drawn up a full itinerary for their trip to Gyeongju and gives Young-won an enthusiastic guided tour of the historical sites, having researched them thoroughly. He puts his new selfie stick skills to good use taking a photo of the two of them, seeming not to notice that Young-won’s smile is a little strained.
Young-won wants to wander around for a little longer but unfortunately there’s no time for that in Ja-sung’s dauntingly tightly-packed schedule. Ja-sung is determined to get the absolute most out of their time in Gyeongju and leads Young-won through the attractions at a breakneck pace.
Editor Choi is surprised to find Sang-soon working overtime on a Saturday and warns him to start spending some time at home before his parents show up again to complain that they’re overworking him. Sang-soon rejects his offer to get a drink and Editor Choi, offended, insists that he has plenty of other options and calls Ja-sung instead — but Ja-sung hangs up on him before he can even finish asking the question.
Sang-soon calls Eui-joo to see if she wants to go on a date when he’s done, but she says she’s tired and wants to be alone. Frustrated, Sang-soon accuses her of avoiding him since she met his parents the day before, and insists on a face-to-face conversation.
Ja-sung has found a shop that rents costumes to tourists, and he and Young-won borrow school uniforms so they can really get the full school trip experience. As they stroll around eating fries and taking photos together, Ja-sung tells Young-won that since he met her he feels as though all the emptiness that used to be inside him has been filled — not noticing her distressed expression.
Ja-sung’s phone beeps to let him know that it’s time to move on to the next item in the schedule but Young-won asks if they can head back to their lodgings instead, because there are other things that she’d like to do.
Eui-joo tells Sang-soon that she has something she needs to say to him but he cuts her off and pleads with her not to finish that sentence, afraid she’s going to break up with him. He tells her that he’d happily stay unmarried for the rest of his life, as long as he got to spend it with her. Eui-joo tells Sang-soon that she wants to stop dating — and get married instead.
Eui-joo explains that after what her father did to her mom, she never really trusted men and assumed it would only be a matter of time until they betrayed her. But when she met Sang-soon’s parents she was touched by the obvious love and affection his dad still had for his mom after all their years together, holding her hand and kneeling down to tie her shoe for her.
Eui-joo wants a relationship like that, and she’s chosen to believe that Sang-soon will be the same kind of loving husband as his dad. She asks him to marry her and he tearfully agrees, vowing to be good to her for the rest of their lives.
Editor Choi is forced to go for lunch alone, but runs into Secretary Hwang at the restaurant and joins him at his table. As they eat, Editor Choi makes a lot of pitying comments about how awful it must be to work for someone as fickle and unforgiving as Ja-sung, dismissing Secretary Hwang’s objections and insisting that he understands because feels the same way himself.
Secretary Hwang, looking uncomfortable, excuses himself and tries to pay the bill, but Editor Choi insists he’ll get it, assuming Ja-sung pays his assistant a pittance. The restaurant owner is disappointed to see Secretary Hwang go, and informs Editor Choi that he actually owns the building and all his tenants love him.
Shocked, Editor Choi asks if he’s from a wealthy family but Secretary Hwang modestly replies that he picked up a few real estate tips while working for Ja-sung. Throwing some subtle shade, he tells Editor Choi that the secret to his success was listening and learning rather than complaining. Editor Choi watches him walk away in stunned silence, but suddenly curses when he realizes he just bought lunch for someone rich.
Young-won and Ja-sung sit quietly on a bench looking out over the river, and she tells him that she wanted to spend some time alone with him. He apologizes for how hectic their schedule has been, admitting that he read in a book that people take trips to learn and took that very seriously.
Resting her head on his shoulder, Young-won tells him that people also take trips to make memories, and Ja-sung promises that they’ll go on a lot of trips and make a lot of good memories from now on. A sad expression on her face, Young-won doesn’t reply.
When they arrive back in Seoul, Ja-sung is overjoyed for Young-won when she tells him that she found her father, although she doesn’t look happy. He asks why she didn’t tell him earlier and she confesses that she wanted their trip to be a happy memory, confusing him.
Young-won tells Ja-sung that her dad has something to say to him and he starts to worry about making good impression, but is stunned when he turns and sees the man in question. Young-won’s dad kneels down on the sidewalk and bows his head as he apologizes to Ja-sung, and Young-won has to look away.
Mi-ra sits next to Chan outside his rooftop studio, having brought him a homemade lunch as a thank you for taking care of her while she was drunk. After double- and triple-checking that the lunch was made specially for him and him alone, Chan asks Mi-ra to join him with a grin on his face.
Ja-sung and Young-won go out to a cafe and she gives him an envelope containing all the money her dad’s managed to save so far, promising that they’ll return the rest when they’ve sold her mom’s store.
Ja-sung tries to refuse it, insisting that it’s all in the past and he’s not angry with Young-won’s dad anymore because he’d never have made it to where he is today without that experience. Ja-sung forgives him because it was a mistake and he never intended to steal his money, but Young-won points out that her dad still wronged him by running away rather than explain what happened and face the consequences.
Young-won tells Ja-sung that she wants to break up. She can’t look at him anymore without thinking of everything he suffered because of her dad and feeling guilty for it, and she insists that whatever he says now, Ja-sung won’t be able to look at her from now on without being reminded of that awful pain that made him want to die and will eventually come to resent her for it. They simply can’t stay together with this awful thing between them.
Distraught, Ja-sung begs her not to do this but Young-won just prises his hand off her arm and walks away stoically. She only makes it as far as the bench outside however before she collapses in floods of tears.
3 months later, Gyeom is taking Sang-soon and Eui-joo’s wedding photos as his wedding present to them. Editor Choi asks what gift they’d like from him and agrees when Eui-joo unexpectedly asks him to take her father’s place in the ceremony, but Sang-soon seems unsure about it.
Sang-soon arranges a surprise meeting between Eui-joo and her dad soon afterwards, telling her that he knows she really wants him to be at her wedding. Sang-soon reassures Eui-joo that her mom would want that too, and both Eui-joo and her father cry as she hands him a wedding invitation.
Gyeom is finally quitting his job at the magazine to pursue his studies in fine art, leaving Chan to take his position as lead photographer. He’s no longer planning to study abroad though, as he’s worried about leaving Ja-sung alone since Young-won disappeared without a trace 3 months ago.
Ja-sung lets himself into Young-won’s former apartment, which is now completely empty with no trace of her left behind. Back at his own place he sees Young-won everywhere he looks — welcoming him home, watering the plant she bought him, drinking tea and smiling at him — but the images of her slowly fade away, leaving him standing alone.
3 years later, Joo-hee (now an editor along with Mi-ra) is giving a presentation to the Monthly Magazine Home editorial team about a collaboration she hopes to do with an anonymous Youtuber. The Youtuber produces popular videos about beautiful and interesting houses, but so far she’s refused all Joo-hee’s requests for an interview.
Joo-hee plays one of the Youtuber’s most popular videos for the team, and Ja-sung is shocked to recognize the lodging house he and Young-won stayed at during their trip to Gyeongju. As the video pauses for a moment on the bench in front where he and Young-won had sat, subtitles on screen echo the words Young-won had said about how the purpose of a trip was to create good memories.
Galvanised by the possibility that he might finally have found Young-won again, Ja-sung heads over to the Youtuber’s office to request an interview in person. His face is full of desperate hope as the door swings open, but unfortunately he’s met with disappointment — the Youtuber is not Young-won after all.
Ja-sung invites the woman to collaborate with Monthly Magazine Home but she refuses again. She’s had a lot of offers from magazines recently and has turned them all down, as she’s decided to focus on producing her own content instead. Ja-sung accepts her refusal, but as she shows him out we see her phone light up with a call from “Editor Na Young-won from Home & People Magazine”.
As Ja-sung waits in front of the elevators, the doors open to reveal Young-won — but unfortunately Ja-sung’s standing at the next elevator over, and he and Young-won miss each other. Young-won is also there to request an interview from the Youtuber, and is astonished to find the keyring she made Ja-sung, engraved with his initials, on her couch. The Youtuber explains that the CEO of Monthly Magazine Home was visiting her earlier and must have dropped it.
Ja-sung notices his keyring missing when he goes to unlock his car and heads back upstairs to retrieve it. Young-won is gone by the time he gets there, and the Youtuber hands the keyring back to him.
Young-won goes back to Gyeongju and retraces the steps she and Ja-sung took on their last trip together. She pauses at each place to look wistfully at the photos they took, and in the traditional village she lowers her phone to find Ja-sung staring back at her, and after a moment the two of them smile softly at each other.
Young-won takes Ja-sung to see her new home, which she built herself. He compliments her on her characteristically cozy home, and she surprises him by saying that it’s not just a home but a real estate investment. She used the property knowledge she picked up from Ja-sung when she chose the plot, and its value will increase massively soon because of plans to redevelop the neighborhood and add a subway line.
Young-won’s voiceover ruminates on what makes a good home as the we see snippets of the Monthly Magazine Team — Eui-joo and Sang-soon in their family home; Chan, Mi-ra and Joo-hee attending Gyeom’s housewarming party; Editor Choi looking proudly at his son’s graduation photo on the wall, redevelopment bids on the table behind him; and Ja-sung watering the plant Young-won bought him, which is still growing healthily.
As we watch her and Ja-sung laugh together outside her house, Young-won tells us that there are as many different homes as there are different people in the world, but in her opinion a good home is a place where a good person lives. She concludes by asking the viewer: “Is the place you’re living in a good home?”
Well, that was one of the messiest and most infuriating final episodes I’ve seen in a while! I’m particularly annoyed by how completely unnecessary most of it was. The writers had a perfect, fitting ending in the very first scene, in which Ja-sung told Young-won that he wouldn’t be moving again because his apartment had become a home to him thanks to her, but it was all downhill from there.
I’m not sure why the writers chose to cram so much into the final episode rather than spacing it out more, because it didn’t really give them the time to properly deal with any of the consequences and everything felt rushed. There should have been far more emotional fall-out on Young-won’s part after finding her dad who abandoned her while she was a teenager. I could understand her initial joy and relief at seeing him again, but where was the anger? Doesn’t she blame him at all for just leaving like that? What about all the time and money she’s spent trying to pay back his debts? Or all those nights she watched her mom cry herself to sleep, all alone? And then it turns out he was just hiding in the woods the whole time when he could have been helping and supporting his family, just because he was too proud to face them (supposedly)? Would he ever have come back if they hadn’t found him? And yet Young-won just forgave him instantly, and so did her mom after a token protest. That muted reaction really trivialized what he did and the lasting impact that his selfish actions had on their lives.
Ja-sung and Young-won’s break-up was incredibly frustrating! Ja-sung hadn’t really had the time to process things properly, but when they spoke in the cafe he genuinely didn’t seem to blame Young-won for her dad’s actions at all. Why would Young-won just assume that Ja-sung would grow to resent her? Why not at least give it some time to see whether or not the guilt and blame would push them apart rather than rushing into a hasty break-up based on wild assumptions? Did Young-won consider what Ja-sung wanted at all? What happened to wanting someone who’d never let go of her hand for any reason — does that not work both ways? It all felt rushed and unnecessary. Mostly though I don’t understand why this entire subplot didn’t happen earlier, because it would have made far more sense than the Gyeom-induced breakup and I think could have been interesting if explored properly.
Post-timeskip also made very little sense (although I did like Joo-hee’s editor glow-up). How did Young-won manage to disappear for 3 years if she was just working at another Korean home & design magazine? Unless she was using a pen name (and there’s no evidence that she was), wouldn’t her name have appeared as a byline on all her articles? Are the Monthly Magazine Home staff really so oblivious and self-absorbed that they wouldn’t have noticed that? The writers also glossed over how Young-won managed to get the capital to build her own house, which usually isn’t any cheaper than buying one, and I was disappointed that we didn’t get to see what her perfect home looked like inside. The biggest disappointment however was the lack of resolution between Ja-sung and Young-won — did they ever get back together or are they just friends?! It was such an unsatisfying end to their story on every level.
- Premiere Watch: At a Distance Spring Is Green, Monthly Magazine Home, Hospital Playlist 2, Nevertheless, Voice 4
- Boiled pork and falling books bring Kim Ji-suk and Jung So-min together in Monthly Magazine Home
- Jung So-min, Kim Ji-suk showcase their homes in Monthly Magazine Home
- Jung So-min and Kim Ji-suk confirmed for new JTBC housing drama