The King Eternal Monarch Finale Recap & Analysis


Although I’ve already written a review, this finale deserves more detailed treatment, so let’s dive in deep to see how it all finally comes together. This entry takes us through the entire episode, with analysis shared throughout. Please feel free to also offer your own theories and explanations in the comments!

We start off the episode with Luna, messaging Tae-Eul’s father that she will be home late as she has a stake-out. His support, concern and love is evident through the messages. This is the last scene we see of Luna in the current timeline and it is a bittersweet closure for her – because of Tae-Eul’s mission for her to care for her dad, Luna finally has a family and someone who cares for her, yet she’s not fully ready to embrace it. She will carry out her task to watch over Tae-Eul’s dad, but from afar, from a distance.

Shijae sits by himself, heart-broken as Tae-eul has decided to take Lee Lim through the portal even after his confession of love. He recalls all the wonderful memories he has of Tae-Eul.

Tae-Eul holds a gun to Lee Lim’s head. She looks back on her world as she hears the rustling of leaves in the bamboo forest, and then she tells Lee Lim to walk and they both enter the portal together. This is Tae-Eul deciding to be brave – it would be easier for her to wait in Korea for Lee Gon’s return. However, she decides to act, and be brave.

Back in Corea in 1994, on the night of the treason, Yeong twists the neck of Lee Gon’s traitor uncle. Lee Gon instructs him to stay at the gate to stop the traitors who will be arriving in 20 minutes. However, Yeong tells him he cannot let Lee Gon go to Cheonjongo alone. Even though this is Lee Gon’s last order to him, Yeong tells him that he must go to Cheongjongo – because it is his last chance to protect his king.

I hoped everything would unfold exactly the same as it did that night,” Lee Gon voices over, “At what point did things start to change?” Beautiful occasions are always simple. Tonight I’m not alone, we just haven’t reached our destination yet”. He places the four tiger sword at the gate, then runs into Cheongjongo with gun in his hand.

This third return to Corea in 1994 is different in so many ways. Firstly, Lee Gon is no longer hiding his identity. He is proudly wearing his royal garb. Secondly, the four tiger sword is with him, a symbol of him embracing fully his destiny. Lastly, and most importantly, he is not alone – Yeong is beside him, and Tae-Eul is partnering him to hold Lee Lim hostage. All three of them – Lee Gon, Yeong and Tae-Eul – are embracing their fate bravely.

In the portal, Tae-Eul continues to point the gun at Lee Lim. She takes his half of the flute from him. She plans to wait here in the portal, until Lee Gon completes his mission. If he fails, she will then shoot him. Lee Lim laughs at her plan and tells her all her memories of him will disappear if he succeeds. She responds that she’s heart-broken, but all those radiant memories are etched deep in her heart. She’s willing to take the risk, even though time is at a standstill in the portal, to give it a go and shoot him.

Back in Corea, young Lee Gon is holding the sword, ready to take a swipe at Lee Lim. Lee Lim orders his henchman to shoot young Lee Gon. Just at that moment, the glass ceiling shatters and young Lee Gon runs away while a glass shard hits Lee Lim’s hand, causing him to drop the flute intact. Lee Gon thus managed to intervene earlier this time round, even before the flute was broken. Yeong takes down many of Lee Lim’s henchmen but is shot in the chest. Lee Gon takes fire at Lee Lim, but Lee Lim uses one of his men to block the shots.

Lee Lim in Corea manages to get a hold on the whole flute, causing Lee Gon’s chest to ache and his half of the Manpasikjeok disintegrates. Back in the portal, the Manpasikjeok also disintegrates in Tae-Eul’s hands, and Lee Lim looks on, bewildered but realising that he must have obtained the whole flute. In the portal, Lee Lim tells Tae-Eul that if the flute is gone, that means his nephew cannot come back, and that Tae-Eul and him are stuck in the portal for eternity.

In Corea, Lee Lim runs off with the flute and Lee Gon chases after him, leaving young Lee Gon in Yeong’s care. He reaches the gate, but sees that Lee Lim has fled. He picks up his sword and gives chase.

Yeong holds young Lee Gon in his arms and smiles as he realises he is alive. Young Lee Gon moves his hand up to touch Yeong’s hand for comfort. As the Royal Guards arrive, Yeong places young Lee Gon on the floor and hides at the side. Yeong recalls how in the previous timeline, young Lee Gon told young Yeong that he was the Unbreakable Sword – he has finally fulfilled his destiny and vision. Yeong and Eun Sop have been the only so-called positive pair of doppelgangers in the series, which also explains why they are so close. They have been partners in fulfilling that destiny, as Eun Sop was the one who protected adult Lee Gon from the gunshot. As the scene closes, we get a shot of Yeong’s face against the snow falling in the light from the glass ceiling, a sign of God’s approval.

Back in Korea, Hyeon-min has brought Shinjae’s mum to the nursing home to see Shinjae in a coma. He tells her that there’s someting dad has been hiding from her, and she breaks down, hugging her son and apologising. She asks him when he found out and how long he was hiding it from her. She asks him what he will do about it. He has no reply for her, and walks away, dejected and alone once again.

However, just as he is walking away, he hears his mum calling him, “Sin-jae!”. He turns back and calls her, “Mom”. She gives him the tightest and warmest hug and tells him she should have given him a hug as it was not his fault. She apologises to him and tears roll down his eyes and he calls her mum. From being abandoned by her, he is now tightly and warmly embraced by her – Shin-jae and his mum got the reconciliation and closure that he needed, even before the reset happened. While it was the original plan for him to bring Lee Lim to the gate, it was never his battle to fight. This act of reconciliation with his mother was what truly took courage for Shin-Jae.

In the bamboo forest, Lee Lim is running towards the gate, with blood all over him. He turns around and sees the gate. “I was right after all,” he says, “this must be the door to another world.” Old Lee Gon appears behind him and slashes his shoulder, causing him to drop the flute. He lies down and wonders who this man is and why he has the Four Tiger Sword. Lee Gon declares that he is the king of Corea, and the rightful owner of the Sword, and the one who will carry out the capital punishment.

Back in the portal, Lee Lim says that the nephew must have failed because he’s alive and well. Tae-Eul decides to shoot him, but the bullet does no come out. Lee Lim laughs and calls her ‘foolishly hopeful’, running towards her. However, we see the plant that Tae-Eul has planted in Korea sprouting, and time starts to move in the portal. The bullet comes out and hits him in the chest. The balloons are moving, petals are falling down, lightning is streaking in the portal and all the photographs are disintegrating.

Tae-Eul has all this while been the one who is ‘foolishly hopeful’, even more so than Lee Gon, planting seeds in the portal and in Korea. Her final hope that the gun will shoot Lee Lim has paid off. While there’s a lot about fate and following fate, Tae-Eul is not someone who just sits around and allows fate to happen. She’s one who takes action in pursuit of who she believes she’s fated to be with – she took Lee Lim into the portal because she did not want Lee Gon to be alone. Her actions are rewarded.

“The sky bestows the heart upon us, and the ground helps the spirit. The sun and moon are formed, as the mountain and stream form, lighting strikes,” declares Lee Gon in the forest. Hearing this, Lee Lim realises that he is the Crown Prince, and that must be the power of the flute. Tragically, he realises the power is not meant to be his, and that it is the flute that causes his death.

“A sage is moved to defeat the evil of the mountains and streams. Wield it with deep thoughts and make things right.” These lines are voiced by Lee Gon’s father and ends off with him – claiming that as his own destiny. He beheads Lee Lim and we look up into the darkness amidst the bamboo trees – a visual contrast to the light shining down on Yeong earlier.

The boy with the yoyo makes his appearance again. “I thought this would break, but it sprouted instead. The door will close and only the memories will remain.” We see scenes of him appearing at different points and places in both Corea and Korea. “Should I break it or just let it be?” he asks. Fortune indeed favours the brave – Tae-Eul’s bravery in entering the portal and taking on Lee Lim means the thread is not broken as she is joined by Lee Gon in fate. Both of them take down Lee Lim at the same time. As she is in the portal, her memories are also retained.

In Corea, we see Lee Lim, dead on the ground while Lee Gon looks on, silently looking on. In the portal, Lee Lim also lies on the ground, while his body disintegrates (a nod to Goblin). Tae-Eul realises heartbreakingly that Lee Gon has achieved his mission, which means he will not be able to come back.

Fates begin to change and Lee Gon’s scar on his neck disappears. However, he remembers what Tae-eul says about how she will not remember him once their worlds start to flow differently. Indeed, all physical evidence of Lee Gon and Shin Jae disappear from both worlds.

Back in Korea in 1994, we see Ji-Hun’s uncle (Lee Lim’s doppelganger) is still alive and his mum decides to put him in a nursing home. Hyeon-min’s mum decides not to end her life, because of Prince Buyeong’s intervention. Prince Buyeong tells Hyeonmin that his name means “to shine like jade” and that he will be someone who shines like a jewel. He tells his mum to change her choice as it will determine the boy’s fate. He invites her to a cup of tea.

In Corea in 1999, Luna tries to steal money from Seo-Ryung’s mum. Seo-Ryung stops her and asks her mum to punish her. However, her mum responds with compassion and offers Luna some food. Both Hyeon-min and Luna find family and a new lease of life in this world, which ultimately shows that the destiny is benevolent and works things for the good. While Lee Lim tried to play god to offer these people better lives, his offers destroyed their lives and brought chaos to the world.

Unlocking the Keys to K-drama Webinar:
My first of its kind webinar on analysing k-drama will be launched soon. If you are interested in appreciating kdrama more deeply, indicate your interest here. I’ve had interest thus far from all over the world – details will be announced soon!

In Korea on April 25 2020, Tae-eul finds herself back in the bamboo forest and only a week has passed. She makes a call and realises while that the world seemed unchanged, but some things had changed because of what happened. Lee Gon and Shinjae no longer exist. She was still a lieutenant, and tried to do something nice for her dad each month. However, she still lives everyday with the memories of Lee Gon intact. To make things worse, she sees that Ji-Hun on the streets, but he does not recognise her at all.

However, Lee Gon has not given up. He has indeed been opening doors to every universe to fulfil his promise to come and find her. We see Lee Gon finding many different versions of Tae-Eul in the different universes – one where she’s in the army, one where she’s a bride who just got married and one where she’s a naval officer. In all the worlds, she’s mostly protecting others.

Finally, in 2021, Na-Ri gives Tae-eul a call, telling her that there’s a horse and a guy outside the Taekwando Centre. She knows it’s him and immediately makes her way there. Indeed, it’s Lee Gon and he has finally found her.

[The reunion scene deserves recapping in its entirety.]

Lee Gon: You exist across every universe. You still don’t recognise me. But you… Why are you crying? You seemed happy in every world I saw you. It was the only thing that comforted me. But you… why do you look as though you recognise me? Why do you look as though you remember everything about me? (holds up her police tag) Is it you? Jeong Tae-eul? Is it really you? Yes?

Tae-Eul: You came? You really came for me?

Lee Gon looks shocked

Tae-Eul: You really came for me?

[He hugs her]

Lee Gon: Finally. I finally got to see you, Lieteuant Jeong Tae-Eul.

TE: What took you so long? I kept waiting for you. Every single day, I waited for you.

LG: After I slew the traitor, I had to go back and get Yeong. So I had to find my way back again, which meant I had to open every single door in ithe universe. That’s why it took me so long. And I didn’t think that you’d remember me, even if I did find you.

TE: Yet you still kept looking for me?

LG: Even if you forgot all about me, I still wanted to see you. I was going to tell you again if you had forgotten me that I am the King, of the Kingdom of Corea, and that my name, which is not supposed to be called, is Lee Gon. But how do you still remember me when the worlds flowed differently?

TE: Let’s forget that. I’ve also been through many things myself. Now, this.

LG: Do you still hate flowers?

TE: No, I like flowers, especially this flower.

LG: I realized I haven’t told you this. I love you. I am deeply in love with you.

TE: So this is how everything comes together. I love you too. I love you so much too.

It’s such a heartwarming and sweet reunion that contrasts with the heartbreaking separation that happened in Episode 10. In the scene in Episode 10, Lee Gon has come from the future and has to go off. He vanishes from her grasp after giving her the flowers. However, this time round, their timelines are aligned – and Lee Gon arrives in her present, and he is here to stay for good. The depth of their love is so evident through their eyes and the way they hug each other so tightly. There are so many wonderful parallels and links to scenes from previous episodes in this finale.

I found it interesting that Tae-Eul chooses not to let Lee Gon know that she was the one who took Lee Lim into the portal and killed him. She brushes it off and just says that she went through a lot. What is in the past is no longer important – she just wants to focus on the present and their future together.

While Lee Gon is the one with the flute and control over the universes and time, Tae-Eul has managed to go beyond the rules that govern the universe, through the favour she has found with the deities (represented by the boy). In an exchange between Luna and the boy, we know they both share a special relationship – she seems almost like a big sister to him.

In Corea, 2022, Yeong is complaining to Lee Gon about taking care of the twins and his parents are back together. The names of the twins are Eun-bi and Kka-bi. Lee Gon asks Yeong if he misses him, but Yeong says he’s ok and Eun-sup wouldn’t remember him. He passes him a folder which shows that Hyeonmin is now working the Haeundae Police Station.

We see Luna walking past the Haesong Book Store, in the same outfit that we earlier saw in the video clip which Lee Gon had. As she is walking, Hyeon-min calls her and he’s going to buy her something for her birthday. She runs into the bookstore to choose something. Luna also goes to visit Seo-Ryung in prison and we realise she has been arrested for stealing people’s tax money as an assemblywoman. The roles have reversed and her secretary is now the correctional officer overseeing her. Haha! Luna’s name is now Koo Seo-Gyeong, revealing that she has been adopted by Seo-Ryung’s mum.

Interestingly, in a world without Lee Lim, Seo-Ryung ends up in prison for her crimes as an assemblywoman. Lee Lim’s involvement in Seo-Ryung’s life must have gone even deeper than we thought and he might even have had a role to play in her rise to power as Prime Minister. It’s unfortunate this angle was never fully explored and never fully clear as well, about what the deal between the two of them was.

After reuniting, Tae-Eul and Lee Gon have been using the magic flute to take weekend trips on dates to different time periods. They first find out which year they are in so they will not run into their counterparts. In 2020, they are at Corea Universe and they go to a café where Prince Buyeong is at, and he gets to see Tae-Eul. Our playful king also packs some leaves in the suitcase, in case they end up in ‘that time period’. Ha!

Lee Gon also sees Sin-Jae in Korea in 1994, who runs off to save someone in an accident. He also visits Eun-sup in 2022, who works with NIS, has a driver’s license now and is together happily with Na-Ri.

In a very fun sequence, they return to that moment earlier in the series where Yeong was looking for him and Lee Gon appeared with Tae-Eul on Maximums. They take a way through the beach so nobody can see them, but Court Lady Noh meets them again. They decide they have to erase video footage of her appearance, and they realise that Yeong is passing a secret note to Seung-A. It’s really cute and funny.

Back in Korea, we see Jangmi has joined the police force and this time, he’s macho and competent. In the Kingdom of Corea, Lee Gon appoints his secretary as the new Prime Minister.

The episode ends both Tae-Eul and Lee Gon going to watch a movie, “Barefooted Youth”, hand in hand.

“No matter what kind of a door opens before us in life
And even if the moments we share make us sad at times
I wish to be able to love tirelessly
Just like that, we decided to love the fate that chose us.
Just for today, and only for today. And forever.”

The idea of ‘loving tirelessly’ is a fitting one to end the series. For both Lee Gon and Tae-Eul, their love required so much from them – waiting, travelling across universes, battling with Lee Lim’s forces and doppelgangers. Fate may have chosen them, but loving that fate requires them to take many actions to ensure that fate came to pass and was not obstructed by Lee Lim. With so much uncertainty and danger, they had decided earlier to just treasure each day they had, and they continue to take this approach as they grow old together.

TKEM’s finale is well-constructed and meaningfully pieced together, tying together stories and scenes from many earlier episodes. While the show may have been less consistent in the rules of time travel, it has definitely been detailed and attentive in telling the stories of the different lives involved. Kudos to the entire team for making this such a wonderful and engaging drama!

The King Eternal Monarch Finale Review


The King Eternal Monarch delivers an emotionally satisfying finale, with Lee Gon and Tae-Eul emerging victorious against both Lee Lims, resulting in the fates of all the key characters in Corea and Korea being rewritten, mostly for the better. While logical inconsistencies still abound and the show largely undelivered on its premise, I really did enjoy the finale.

As Lee Gon returns to the night of the treason for the third time, he voices over, “I hoped everything would unfold exactly the same as it did that night. At what point did things start to change? Beautiful occasions are always simple. Tonight I’m not alone, we just haven’t reached our destination yet”.

Indeed, many things are different about his third return to Corea in 1994. Firstly, Lee Gon is no longer hiding his identity as the King. He is proudly wearing his royal garb. Secondly, the four tiger sword is with him, once again symbolising him fully embracing his destiny. Lastly, and most importantly, he is not alone – Yeong is beside him, and Tae-Eul is partnering him to hold Lee Lim hostage in the portal. All three of them – Lee Gon, Yeong and Tae-Eul – are embracing their fate bravely.

He manages to intervene in the treason much earlier, thus saving his younger self and keeping the Manpasikjeok intact. As Yeong is with him, Lee Gon is able to leave his younger self safely in his care, while he runs off in pursuit of Lee Lim. He manages to stop Lee Lim just before he enters the gate, and delivers the rightful punishment to Lee Lim of beheading him. Similarly, Tae-eul manages to shoot and kill Lee Lim in the portal.

As a whole, the demise and death of Lee Lim has ultimately been anti-climatic. There was so much build-up early in the series about him building up his army, getting ready for a battle with Lee Gon. However, ever since the big battle in Episode 12, we have hardly seen his army in action. Furthermore, he has not decisive steps to secure victory for himself. His plan with Seo-Ryung came to naught and him killing himself when he returned to Corea ultimately also effectively made him less threatening. Lee Lim has been one of the biggest disappointments of the series.

However, while Lee Lim’s final moments were disappointing, I like how we finally see the boy with the Yo-yo again. He has a certain enigmatic charm about him as he says, “I thought this would break, but it sprouted instead. The door will close and only the memories will remain. Should I break it or just let it be?”

The red string refers to the thread of eternal love between Lee Gon and Tae-Eul. With Lee Lim being killed, he thought that the red string that ties both Lee Gon and Tae-Eul would break and that their memories of each other would be erased. However, the boy must have decided not to break it and keep it intact, so that the both of them would find each other again. This hints that Tae-Eul has a bigger role in the grand scheme of things, and perhaps, it is her fate to be the Queen. I believe Tae-Eul also retains her memories of Lee Gon because she was in the portal, where the whole reset between both worlds was happening, thus escaping the reset.

For the rest of the episode, we see the fates of our different characters in a world without Lee Lim’s interference. Ji-Hun lives and his uncle remains in a wheel chair. Hyeon-min’s mum is stopped by Prince Buyeong and turns her life around. A young Luna is stopped by Seo-Ryung’s mum from stealing and is eventually taken in by the family. She becomes a police officer who works together with Hyeon-min. Eun-Seob is equally successful and has gotten together with Na Ri.

Tae-Eul returns to the world of Korea on April 25, 2020, and she still retains her memories of Lee Gon and Shin-jae. However, the world she returns to is different and Lee Gon and Shin-jae are not in her life. This is where the mood of the episode changes and it becomes more light-hearted and funny as we see Lee Gon traversing different universes, opening all the doors as he had promised, to find Tae-eul. He finds many different versions of ‘her’ as a soldier, a naval officer, and even a drunk bride.

He eventually finds her a year later in 2021 and they are finally reunited and spend their weekends together, doing all the things that Tae-eul wanted to do before, like travel, take photos, watch movies and grow old together. It’s a sweet and cheery way to end the series with plenty of laughs and fun moments that ultimately brings everything together in a hopeful way for our protagonists.

As a series, The King Eternal Monarch was an engaging and thought-provoking one, that lent itself to so much analysis on so many levels. Whether people like it or not, we cannot deny that this show has sparked off so much debate and discussion about its rules, the storyline, the characters, symbolism and the literary references.

I felt the show faltered because it did not always play fair with the viewers. With parallel universes, it’s already confusing enough, yet at the start, we were never quite sure which world we were in. Furthermore, there were moments when the sequence of events were not clear. Scenes were sometimes presented in a ‘chopped up’ manner, with us only returning to it half an episode later to realise what happened in the end.

Towards the end, the rules governing time travel became inconsistent and played more towards Lee Gon’s advantage. Of course, this could easily be explained as the boy in the yoyo (i.e. destiny) favouring Lee Gon as he wanted to restore the balance of things. However, it is less satisfying because it ultimately made Lee Lim a very ineffective villain. The flute, which was meant to give Lee Gon control over the universes and time, just became a means of going on dates.

The characters also did not particularly stand out in this series, except for Yeong, Eun Seob and Shinjae. The other characters, including our protagonists, did not leave much of an impression. There is a lot of focus on about Lee Gon and Tae-eul embracing their destiny. However, even though their destinies were tough, they never really struggled with embracing it. In terms of the cast, I would say Kim Go Eun shone more than Lee Min Ho, whose performance was mostly one-note (he was much better as Joon Jae in Legend of the Blue Sea). Kim Go Eun was able to play both Luna and Tae-Eul so effectively that you could tell from one look which one was which even before they spoke. Woo do Hwan was also fantastic as Eun-seob and Yeong.

With all that being said, I have to give props to Kim Eun Sok for once again presenting us with a very original and ambitious story-line that attempted to bring history together with fantasy. It was an enjoyable series that was dense in meaning and constructed in a way that often made viewers want to find out more and exchange theories. This is the type of show that you can discuss with fans for hours, because there’s so much to unpack. While there are aspects I was disappointed with, I am definitely looking forward to her next series.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 15: Review


As the show reaches its end, the cracks in the show are also starting to show. It’s still enjoyable enough for me to follow, but the weight of bringing together parallel universes, time travel, doppelgangers has become a burden that’s too heavy to bear. In spite of many questions that linger in my mind, there are still many touching and meaningful moments that keep me interested in what happens in the end.

The most touching moment for me was the parting between Eun Seob and Yeong. I’ve always enjoyed scenes with both characters and they play off each other so well whenever they are together, that I did tear when hugged each other. Unlike the other doppelgangers who have been antagonistic to each other, both Yeong and Eun Seob have become like brothers to each other, helping each other to protect what is precious to them. Having to take on Yeong’s position has brought out the heroism and selflessness in Eun Seob without having him lose his fun and cheerful personality.

Another character whose journey continues to be deep and meaningful is Shin Jae, and in this episode, we finally gets to meet his mum at the same spot where they first met Lee Rim at the bridge when he was still young. He meets her not to get an apology from her – he meets her so that he can wake up from this ‘bad dream’. He tells her then that he’s abandoning her this time; for the first time, finally, he has some agency to decide how to confront this reality of his confused identity and parenthood. After drifting around for twenty over years, uncertain of who is he or where he belongs, he now knows. Even though the answer is not a happy one, he finally has one. I believe it’s this certainty and decision that also makes him ready to sacrifice his life for Lee Gon, and confess his love for Tae-Eul. Shin Jae’s story is the type of story I wish we had more of in the show, with such profound emotional and psychological impact.

Part of me thinks that this is not the last encounter we will see between Shin Jae and his mother. Given how things are building up towards the finale, I foresee one of our dear characters – be it Yeong, Shin Jae, Tae-Eul or Lee Gon – will have to be sacrificed in this big battle, and somehow I have a feeling Shin Jae will not survive our finale.

However, as to what that big conclusion will be, I’m still not sure. While that can be a good thing in some shows as it creates in suspense, for TKEM, the uncertainty of the ending is due to confusion. At this point, it’s not just the time travelling that’s confusing, but also certain characters’ motivations and decisions become less clear.

For example, in this episode, once the magic flute becomes whole, Lee Gon can no longer go back to that moment because he no longer hears the music. However, at that moment, he has Lee Rim right beside him, along with both Yeong and Shin Jae. It seems like he was already intending to travel back at that point. Why doesn’t he just split the flute and then get one of them to follow Lee Rim, while the other follows him? Also, why is Lee Rim so hell-bent on controlling the universe and eternity – what does he ultimately want to achieve out of that?

I’m also wondering Tae-Eul’s decision in allowing Luna (who has just stabbed her a few days ago to get her organs and poisoned Lee Gon) to stay with her dad in the world of Korea. Luna has not done a very convincing job of being Tae-Eul at all, and how could Tae-Eul even imagine that she would be a suitable replacement? Am I missing something? Was there a scene where Luna did something to win over Tae-Eul’s trust – because at this point, this is all bewildering to me.

Similarly, Seo-Ryung’s character is also a big disappointment for me. Having claimed that she wants to get the flute in Episode 14, she does nothing in Episode 15 except to threaten Lee Rim. We are one episode away from the series ending and we have no idea what her bigger plan is and how she intends to achieve it.

Putting aside all the confusion, the episode did give us plenty of sweet and meaningful moments between Lee Gon and Tae-Eul. It’s kind of bitter-sweet that even though Lee Gon visited Tae-Eul at different points of time in the past, that ultimately did not change where they are now in 2020. Yes, they did spend more time together, and she did go to his parallel universe quicker, while also accepting her fate quickly. However, tragedy ironically came earlier and fate didn’t change. Fate did not change, because Lee Gon was not ultimately trying to change it as he moved through time.

Unlike Lee Rim, Lee Gon is not intent on disrupting the order of the world and challenging fate. He certainly could have warned Tae-Eul of what was going to happen, since he did get to see her when it was Election Day and Lee Rim was already present. However, he knows his destiny and he knows that if he attempts to change anything along the way, it might result in more disaster.

We later learn in a conversation with Shin Jae about what Lee Gon has decided to do. He wants to go back in time again and kill Lee Rim straightaway at his moment of anger, rather than focus on saving his younger-self. By doing so, Lee Rim would not have been able to wreak havoc on both the worlds of Corea and Korea. That would definitely be a game-changer, but would it be so simple? Does that necessarily mean that Lee Gon and Tae-Eul would never meet again? Let’s hope that the finale gives us some satisfactory answers in this aspect.

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 14: Review


The King Eternal Monarch’s 14th episode takes us back to the start as Lee Rim and Lee Gon travel back to that fateful night where Lee Rim stages the coup and then Lee Gon travels through time till the moment Tae-eul and him first meet at Gwanghaemoon.

The first half of the episode focuses on Lee Lim and Lee Gon as their future selves return to 1994 and we finally get some answer on how time travel happens. The boy with the yoyo explains to Song Jung-hye, “When the Manpasikjeok becomes one inside the gate, both the axes for time and space simultaneously form inside the gate. When the Manpasikjeok becomes whole, it takes you to the moment when you wish to save yourself “.

That moment is the same for both Lee Rim and Lee Gon – the night of the reason. Lee Gon goes back because he wants to save both words from Lee Rim, whereas Lee Rim wants to go back to “save his foolish self from failing the coup”.

The difference between the two is that Lee Rim fails in his mission to save himself. His 2020 self returns to the moment before his 1994 self starts the coup. He tells his 1994 self to kill the 8 year old Lee Gon first, because he is the one who ultimately stops the coup. However, his 1994 self refuses to believe it. Seeing that his 2020 self only has half the flute, his 1994 self decides not to trust him and kills him. Ultimately, Lee Rim’s pride is his own downfall and the 26 years of scheming to ensure he can finally go back in time to save himself ultimately fails. There must be more to his plan though, given how things continue to move in 2020 with Luna and the attempt to kill Jung-Hye.

While 2020 Lee Rim returned to a point of time where he could have changed his future, Lee Gon returns to a point of time which is too late to save his father, or to get the entire flute. The coup is stopped, but Lee Rim runs away once again. As Lee Gon leaves to pursue Lee Rim, he meets Ok-nam and he tells her that he is her King and that just as she advised, he is pursuing his destiny. This certainly explains much of Ok-nam’s behaviour in previous episodes.

When Lee Gon travels across worlds to Korea, he realises he is also too late to also save his ‘Korean’ self. With only half of the flute, he can only move across worlds and will therefore take four months to get back to the present time. The second half of the episode then focuses on Lee Gon moving through time, meeting Tae-Eul at key moments and also planting the seeds to possibly ensure he is more successful the next time he gets to travel back in time.

Since he cannot go back to meet Tae-Eul immediately in the present, he first goes back to her when she’s 5 and tells her 5-year old self that he’s on his way to her and that he will be back soon. Following that, he visits her again on the day of election day on 2016, telling her that she will meet him next at Gwanghaemoon. He asks her to give him more time then, as they do not have much time.

Besides just going through time to meet Tae-Eul, 2020 Lee Gon also puts in place other plans to set things in place for success. He returns to the day of the boat race, where he first ran after Luna. There, he meets Yeong and tells him not to hold back from telling him about Jung-hye in 2020. He also places a rabbit jacket on the bench with a key card to the palace. We then see Luna again running in the jacket, but this time, we see her touching her pocket and realising that she has the key card in her pocket.

As all this time travelling is going on, we get only one scene with Seo-Ryung in this episode where we learn that she has big plans to find the Manpasikjeok and use it to her benefit. This is definitely an interesting development, but this should really have happened much earlier.

As the episode reaches a close, we go back to present day 2020 and see that Eun-Soeb and Tae-eul are tailing Luna – who is shopping with Tae-Eul’s father and Na-Ri. This scene confused me because if this is supposed to be happening after last week’s events, then why would Tae-eul even allow Luna to be close to her family members again? Putting this aside, Tae-Eul follows Luna to a dark alley and is eventually stabbed by Luna – which leads us back to Tae-Eul and Lee Gon’s first meeting. This time round, Tae-Eul already knows who Lee Gon is, so she takes the first move and runs towards him and hugs him.

With only two episodes left, there’s still plenty of plot to cover. We know Lee Rim has started his plan once again since the coup failed. The difference this time round is that Lee Gon is moving also through time and making plans to circumvent Lee Rim’s plans. Certainly, Tae-Eul will not die, so what will happen once Lee Gon arrives in 2020? What are his plans then?

As the show draws to a close, my biggest gripe with the show is how the characters are mostly unfleshed out, with the exception of Shin Jae. He is the only character whose back story gets the most attention as he grapples with his identity of whether he is Shin Jae or Hyun-min. For the other characters, a lot of time is spent figuring out how to outdo each other rather than exploring the motivations and emotions felt by the characters. This show could certainly be so much more if we could relate and connect more with the characters.

Shows I’ve been following


There have been quite a lot of new shows lately, in addition to good ones that are still continuing. I must say we are quite spoiled for choice for shows from a wide variety of genres during this period. Here are some shows I’m following lately and my current thoughts on them.

The King Eternal Monarch (up to episode 13)

The intensity has certainly waned ever since that huge clash on the street between Lee Gon and Lee Rim’s forces in Episode 11. I was expecting things to heat up and both Lee Gon and Lee Rim to start moving chess pieces faster and take more decisive action. However, they both seem to be taking their time and giving each other time to react.

We still have many questions unanswered and there are only three episodes left. We are getting reveals, but they aren’t picked up in the subsequent episode, like Court Lady Noh’s reveal. I was surprised that Lee Gon was not alert enough to prevent himself from getting poisoned by Luna, yet he was able to make that huge realisation just before he collapsed. Also, I was not as shocked by the reveal as there weren’t many other characters left who could have been there to save him, plus the moment Tae-Eul gave him that jacket, I already saw it coming.

Let’s hope we get more answers this weekend and that things get taken up a notch!

Mystic Pop-up Bar (up to episode 4)

This show is a whole lot of fun! While both TKEM and Mystic Pop-up Bar are both supernatural shows with a lot of world-building to do, Mystic Pop-up Bar takes itself far less seriously and keeps adding new rules, new aspects and new characters to its world-building in each episode. It does so with such light-heartedness that we are less inclined to scrutinise it.

I much preferred the first two episodes where we saw the characters in the case of the week going through personal triumphs and changes, as opposed to the cases in Episodes 3 and 4 where our trio basically used their powers to tweak the circumstances and situations in favour of the characters they were trying to save. Those stories felt more meaningful to me, though my heartstrings were certainly also pulled by all the stories lately.

What’s most delightful is the chemistry between Wool-Ju, Manager Gwi and Kangbae and how they play to each other’s strengths. I’m loving the little snippets of back-story that we get in each episode – it’s sufficient to tantalise us to want to find out more, yet it also deepens our understanding of our characters and where they are now.

When My Love Blooms (up to Episode 10)

The relationships and emotions in this series definitely go deep and just when you think there cannot be any more pain, each episode takes us deeper and deeper into the suffering felt by Ji-Soo and Jae-Hyun – both in the past and the present. There’s so much in this show about trauma, healing, reconciliation, relationships and ultimately just growing as people.

What I’m loving the most about this show is that it gives its characters time and space to talk, to connect and understand each other – be it our lead couple, or between them and their sons or between friends. The relationships, the characters and their stories get so deeply fleshed out.

I’m loving the performances by Yoo Ji-Tae and Lee Bo-Young so much too!

The King Eternal Monarch Episode 13 Live Recap


Was challenged to try doing a live recap for this show, so I’ll be trying it out for Episode 13, starting at 10.30 p.m. Singapore timing when the show is up on Netflix. Reload every 5 minutes for updates. Enjoy!

Here is how the character’s names will be abbreviated:
Tae-Eul: TE
Lee Gon: LG
Lee Rim: LR
Shin-Jae: SJ
Eun-Soeb: ES
Jo Yeong: JY
Seo-Ryung: SR
Luna: LU
Noh Ok-Nam: NO

Alright, the episode is up! Let’s go.

Scene 1

NO: What happened to that war? the war that broke out in June, 1950.
TE (looks shocked): How do you know about that war?
NO: What you are thinking is right. It was during the still of the dawn. The cannons began to roar like thunder and all hell broke loose. I was at a loss after losing my parents and siblings. Then one man came up to me.. .and asked if I wanted to go to a world without a war. I left my hometown with just this book, not knowing that I would never be able to return. That man was His Majesty’s Grandfather, King Haejong. What happened to the world’s history after that?
TE: There was an armistice three years after the war broke out. The country is now divided into South and North Korea… I’m sorry to tell you such sad n ews.
NO: No, it’s fine. There were many sad days, but now I know that everything was my destiny. Just like how you ended up here.

Back to Lee Gon’s office with LG and SR
LG: All right, let’s talk about that first Otherwise we wouldn’t be able to talk. Eveyrthing in the news is true. She’s the woman I love. I support her, every step and moment.
SR: You’re always so honest, your majesty. Even in moments like this. That woman has a criminal record.
LG: I’m not asking for your support
SR: I liked being next to you. That was where I could see you best, but you say that it is not my place. Will I be able to see you better if I stood in opposition to you?
LG (stands up): Stop… if you cross the line any further…
SR: I started from the bottom and climbed all the way up, but you’ve had it all to start with, and the only thing that moves you is love. What will my heart beat for now? I don’t think it’ll be for honesty and loyalty.
Both LG and SR fall in pain as the lightning flashes and thunder roars.
SR tries to excuse herself but LG looks at her in shock. SR leaves the room.
LG: Contact the National Forensic Services and see if they have the records of traitor Kim Gi-hwan.

TE walks down the stairs and remembers NO telling her that since her ID card was in Lee Gon’s hands, she has been the one guiding him to his fate. She asks her to take good care of His Majesty.

TE continues to walk down the corridor and bumps into SR, who is still holding onto her neck in pain. She takes her hand off her neck and looks boldly at TE. She walks slowly towards her, trying to intimidate her.

TE: We meet again
SR: Right.
TE: We met… and I saw you buying shoes, Ms Koo Eun-a.
SR (laughs): Oh, sorry. I haven’t seen anyone in this country mistake me for someone else. I was talking about when we met at KU building. Shouldn’t you know your Prime Minister? The proposal you received shook the whole nations.
TE: What did you do before and after you met me? I’m sure you didn’t just buy shoes.
SR: Do not be so cocky and move aside. You can’t stop me yet.
TE: You’re the one who walked in here yourself and you’re the one who stopped. Your heart feels heavy, right? That’s how heavy guilt can be.
SR walks forward and past TE.
SR: Are you curious about what I did? Of course I did not just buy shoes. I mean the day we met at KU building, of course. (aughs)
(lightning strikes again and we see the cracks in her skin)
TE sees it and gets shocked. She runs towards LG’s room. She enters LG’s room.

LG tells her to go to bed first and that the coroner found the mark on the traitor’s body. TE tells him that she saw the marks on SR’s body, which show SR has crossed between worlds and that she had seen her in Korea. LG says that SR seems keen to place herself in opposition to him, recklessly partnering with LR. LG says that if he decides to act recklessly, nobody can stop him. He tells TE to be at peace and he’ll come back with Eun-sup. TE looks worried.

At the forensics services, LG sees that there’s a scar on the left side of the chest of the traitor. LG remembers his own mark.
LG to the Coroner: Did you say you’ve seen the scar before?
Coroner: Yes (passes him an envelope) Nobody believed me until now. I’ve worked for 11 years and I’ve seen 3 bodies with the same scar and all on rainy days like today, but what’s strange is that all these people had served terms in prison for parricide.
LG: (thinking) Those who killed their own counterparts and crossed worlds would get caught easily by their families. (says to the Coroner) Please check if there are any other cases like this. I need to find the answer.

(at Eun-Soeb’s hospital room)

He’s asleep and someone enters and tries to inject poison into his drip. ES asks if it’s supplements, but he’s aware of what’s going on and then he takes out a gun and points it at the head of the intruder.
We flashback to ES doing a security check of the room and he spots trackers below the coffee table. He starts singing songs and shouts into the trackers that he’ll get a good night sleep and see the majesty tomorrow.

Back to the scene with the intruder, who tries to run off but Lee Gon is outside with his Royal Guards. The intruder is arrested.

LG to ES: Great work, and thank you again.
ES: You have to open the car door for me next time. is the Kingdom going to be ok without me? When will TE and I go?
LG: Maybe tomorrow at dawn. it’s about the time she said she’ll leave
(Lighting flashes again) LG is in pain again. ES hugs him, but LG winces.
LG: Are you alright? You don’t have a scar that causes you pain?
ES: Why would I feel pain?
LG: So you and TE don’t have it, but I do.
ES: What do you have?
LG: The mark of people who’ve killed their counterpart. What are these scars?

[SR’s office]
SR looks at her neck in the mirror. She asks her assistant to get a doctor’s appointment for her, a dermatologist or a psychologist. Her assistant is concerned and asks her what she did during her ‘vacation’. SR looks at him uneasily and tells him she likes him more than she thought she did and that she can’t tell him right now or he will be in danger.

[EOSU Bookstore]
LR is waiting and SR comes in to find him there.
SR: You look the same, but you are definitely not. Lee Lim’s hidden son. You look exactly like when I saw you in the textbooks. Who are you? [She takes out the newspapers] Are you the one who sent me this?
LR: Your parents at least respected me. They feared me, listened to me, kept their heads bowed.
SR: So you’re Lee Lim and not a hidden son?
LR: You have a lot of questions and I guess you’ll get the answers soon.
SR: Then you’d be 70 years old. How is that appearance possible? And President Trump of US? What is this – who is that woman who looks exactly like me?
LR: Which question should I answer first?
LR gets up and walks around.
LR: As you can see, I’m not dead. That woman is you in a different world. Her fingerprints, DNA, appearnace and birthdate are the same as yours. There is a parallel world called the republic of Korea.
SR looks interested.
SR: Am I getting black mailed right now? if my answer is wrong, will that woman replace me?
LR: [laughs] I’ve met thousands of people until now, but you’re the first one to know the next step without having to teach you. What will you do? Will you try to answer my question?
SR: (laughs) The men of the Royal Family really know how to make me laugh. it’s only right for you to prove your ability first. Take me to that place. The other world.

(Switch back to SR’s office)

SR (saying to herself): You’re the one who chose where I should go in these heels, Your Majesty.

[LG’s office]
LG’s secretary updates him that TE wants to go out and has asked for the best guard. The secretary has chosen the best trainee of the Royal Guard, Jang Mi-reuk and has given them a business phone.

[In the car]

TE is in the car with the Royal Guard, and he looks exactly like Jangmi (haha!). The guard asks how she knows his name. TE says it’s nice to meet him and she needs to look for a snack or bread factory about an hour away from the salt field. The guard tells him it’s a restricted development area with only forests. TE says that she remembers being there and smelling something sweet, like cotton candy. The guard says it’s an area full of cinnamon trees with a strong sweet scent. They head there.

Back in Lee Gon’s office, he wants to go and find TE, but his secretary tells him they have many urgent matters to settle, especially when he’s planning to get married. (Haha) She tells him that the nation is buzzing and he needs to make an official announcement. He tells her that he hasn’t received an answer for his proposal and asks, “Isn’t that harsh?” He tells her that it’s more urgent to stop Prime Minister Koo now and tells her to go to the prison and tell KU Group’s Chairman Choe to send a representative, to make a choice between the company or his ex-wife. He asks for Court Lady Noh.

Court Lady Noh appears at this moment and walks towards him.

LG: When you’re in my sight, it’s either for the talisman or something’s happened in that palace.
ON: Yes, your majesty, it’s the latter. Actually, I’ve caught a spy and I got new chickens during that process.
LG: Someone was using poison?

(Cut to the chicken cages)
ON: The spy was a courty lady named Park Suk-jin. I heard that she had been visiting the bookstore of the traitors. She came out of the bookstore and burned that photo. When I was revealing her identity, she spat out blood.

LG: So the parents were the ones being used. I still haven’t paid him back for the meal yet… How is she?
ON: She asked to talk to you in person.

LG goes to visit Park Suk-jin. LG tells her that she has fooled him for so long. Suk-jin tells him that she has seen him with her son, Shin-Jae, and that it was in the last photo that Lee Rim sent her. When she received the poison, she drank it instead of poisoning him, so that she could pay for her sins. She took a gamble, and now she gets to meet LG. She kneels down and tells him that although it’s shameless, she’s asking him to decide the fate of her son. She pleads with him to protect Shin Jae.

Switch to scene of lady in hospital who’s trying to memorise details of her family members. She recalls back to the scene of her waking up in a house on the floor, and wondering what happened and why she is in a place that’s so rundown.

[Republic of KOREA]

Luna is outside TE’s house and looking in. TE’s dad appears and asks whether she has eaten and tells her that Jeong-hun’s mother has given homemade soybean paste. He cooks her a meal and tells her the soup is amazing. Luna looks stunned. He wonders if she’s complaining about the food and is unhappy. Luna calls him “Dad” and asks if she’s a nice daughter. TE’s dad jokingly replies yes, on 29th when she receives her salary. He tells her to put the dishes in the sink when she’s done as he has to go off.

Luna sits at the table and stares at the soup, her eyes brimming with tears. She then goes into TE’s room and looks around. She looks through TE’s clothes. She lies down on the bed and sees stars on the ceiling. “it’s a Gemini. That sucks.”, she says to herself.

[In Jun-hye’s car]
Song Jun-hye is waiting outside a house, looking in. She tells the driver she has nowhere to go as he is watching her 24 hours a day. She tells him she used to work there when she had Ji-hun. She tries to open the door when she sees Shinjae’s mum. Shinjae’s mum doesn’t know who she is. Shinjae’s mum finally recognises her and says she guesses things worked well for her. She tells Jun-hye that they moved away when Shinjae went to middle school and now she’s here to do housekeeping. Jun-hye asks to have a meal together with Shinjae’s mum, so they can catch up. JY is in the corner and sees this. He looks concerned.

Jun-Hye and Shinjae’s mum are having lunch together. They talk about work and how she’s helping Shinjae and that Shinjae has woke up. Jun-Hye is shocked to realise that Shinjae regained consciousness. Jun-Hye is struck when she sees Shinjae’s photograph as a cop. She then recalls the man she saw at the grave. She then tells Shinjae’s mum about how she was really kind to her in the past and she was grateful. She takes her purse out and gives her money for the meal, rushing off. Jun-hye walks off in a rush.

In the lift, Jun-hye enters and JY suddenly appears. He wants to go to the same floor as Jun-hye.


Change scene to LG at a pavilion, waiting for TE. LG’s royal guard is rushing the guard to bring TE over. TE runs in, panting. LG tells her he was worried and asks why she didn’t pick up. She asks him to go somewhere quiet as she has something to tell him, about Lee Lim’s bamboo forest.

TE: I remembered something about the day and I found the forest where I woke up. The Jangmi in this world is going to look for a bamboo forest nearby. If we find it, you just have to keep watch there
LG stops walking.
TE: What is it? Am I wrong?
LG: The moment that door opens, time stops. And it stops for a longer time each time it opens. Now, time stops for over an hour.
TE: So if you keep men there, they’ll be in danger, since only Lee Lim would be working. Right… I guess you would’ve thought of that already. Time really stops for that long?
LG nods.
TE hugs him.
TE: Then you’d be alone during that time.
LG hugs her back.
LG: You were with me a couple of times when that happened.
TE: is there even a way for us to fix this?
LG: I thin time is stopping because the flute is broken in half. only half its power is being used, so the dimensions are falling apart. Maybe if it’s whole again, things might get better.
TE: how would it be whole again? I guess it’ll be either of two things. You take the piece that Lee Lim has, or he takes your piece.
LG: Or I stop Lee Lim before he gets the half of the flute.
TE: But that’s in the past.
LG: If there’s a time axis as well as a space axis, then it’ll be possible. It’ll explain how I got your ID card 25 years ago.
TE: Does it exist?
LG: I’m not sure yet. I’ve ridden across that place, but no matter how long I rode, I could not reach the edge. I’m sure about one thing, though. I tossed a coin in the air, and it floated. Your seeds sank in there. I think living things sink.
TE: really? I bought more flower seeds today. (shows him magic lily seeds)
LG: Do you really believe that flowers will bloom there?
TE: I know what you’re concerned about. If the flute becomes one, that door might close forever. Right? This is the 10th rule out of the 17. Don’t get scared in advance. It hasn’t even happened yet.
LG: You’re right, but it’s the ninth out of the 17th.
TE: Oh it’s the ninth? You say it as if you’ve followed the first eight. In such situations you should just give me a pat. Never mind, I’ll see you at dawn.
LG tells the guards to take one step forward to stop TE.

LG: We should see dawn together.

LG brings TE into the portal where she plants the seed. ES is also ready to go, with his bag and luggage. He sees the coin that is floating, flicks it and it spins in the air.

We are back at a scene near TE’s home.
TE’s dad sees a group of teenagers smoking and tell him to stop. They are not afraid of him and laugh at him when he says he’ll try to take them down. He kicks off one of their cigarettes and shows them the flyer of his taekwando centre. TE appears, holding her ID and she runs up to her dad and hugs him, saying “I almost got killed this time.” He tells her that she’s been home all this time and TE immediately panics and is in shock.

TE goes back to her room. Her dad comes in and she asks her dad to pass her his phone.

JY is having a meal with SJ of fried chicken. JY asks who is Kang Yeong-min. Shinjae avoids answering, so JY asks whether that was his name in Corea. SJ answers that yes, it probably was and asks JY to look it up for him. JY asks SJ if there’s anything else he wants to find or know in Corea. JY remembers seeing his mum in the palace. SJ tells him that he wants to find his mum or his siblings. JY tells SJ that he knows he has feelings for TE, and that LG and TE cannot be together because their worlds are too far apart. SJ responds that there are people who are in the same world, yet even further apart. He walks off and admits that he does have feelings for TE.

SR walks to his car and sees Luna with a cat in an alley. Thinking that she’s TE, she asks why she hasn’t been answering her phone. Luna stands up apprehensively. SJ asks if she’s sick. Luna then pulls him in to kiss him. He pushes her away, shocked, asking her what she did. She receives a call from TE’s dad and walks away to answer it. SJ chases after her, but he cannot seem to find her. Just at this moment, TE hits him from behind and he looks at her shocked. She asks him if he has seen her counterpart. SJ asks if she had just arrived. TE asks if she looks exactly like her. SJ tells her that Luna had TE’s ID card and applied for a vacation. He tells her that she needs to cancel it immediately.

TE tries calling Luna and Luna answers. She tells Luna that they should meet, but Luna tells her that if they meet, she’ll die. TE tells her not to touch anything of hers, but Luna said that she would have done so already if she wanted to. Luna tells her that she came here to meet TE and she’ll meet her soon. TE tries calling back but the phone is turned off. “So it’s me you’re after, TE says to herself.

JY and LG are now having a meal together. LG checks in on JY and asks whether he ran into Prime Minister Koo. JY asks how he knows. LG tells him that he saw the scar, but there’s no need o worry because she cannot go wherever she wants.

Flashback to LG’s meeting with Chairman Choe’s representative. The representative tells him that he can be used to do any work he wants. he tells LG that Chairman Choe puts the company first and gave plenty of alimony to his wife. Chairman Choe’s answer comes in the form of a thumbdrive, and the representative tells him that it’s treason and the evidence came from her private residence. He tells LG to increase security in his office as his voice was reocrded often, including him saying that he was indebted to her.

Over a news broadcast, the audio file of treason is played, showing what SR said. We see the other Ministers marching into her office, asking her to step away and put all her belongings into a box. She asks them who gave that order – KU? or the Royal Court? She tells them that she has nothing to take and that all she needs is the pair of shoes she bought in Korea. She walks out of the office and asks who went through her private residence and when. Chairman Choe’s representative tells her that she needs to clean up her mess. She says she was always soaring and asks her assistant to go with her. He goes with her and puts the box down.

We switch back to Korea, where LG is chatting with JY and they are enjoying the chicken, saying that this place has the best food (PPL…). JY asks how LG knew he was here. LG tells him he had a tracking app and asks whether ES’s siblings know that JY wasn’t ES.

Cut to a scene of Nari with ES’s siblings. The little girl says that she knows it’s not her brother. Nari also says it’s strange, but just at this moment, ES arrives in a suit and they run up to him. Nari recognises him immediately too and ES runs up to hug her, telling her that he misses her. It’s a cute and adorable scene which ends in a group hug.

At the police station, TE is getting her leave application cancelled, but it’s already cancelled. She decides to go off to get a new phone.

We see Luna in a car at the top deck of a carpark. She’s crying and in pain. She looks up at the ceiling of the car and the gemini constellation pattern is there too.

The next day, ES is ready to leave his hom eand sees LG there, waiting for him. LG opens the door of his very swanky car for ES andtells him that he has bought this car for ES. ES’s eyes open-wide. LG thanks him sincerely for his service. ES cannot believe his eyes and says he has nothing to give him in return. LG takes a packet of coffee from his pocket and sucks it – yet another blatant PPL.

TE is leaving her home and tells her dad not to open the door for anyone. However, as she’s leaving, she sees LG in her home. The dad tells her that the horse owner came and he asked him to sit down. Wow, the product placement is strong in the second half – we see the kimchi again. Her dad teases her that her face is glowing and asks if she has a boyfriend. To his surprise and Lee Gon’s, TE says that she did get a boyfriend and he’s right here. Haha! Lee Gon is shocked, and so is her dad. They bow awkwardly. and TE breaks the ice by telling them the meat is cooked. It’s a really hilarious scene. We have even more PPL regarding the kimchi. The dad asks LG who he really is. TE tells him to stop and that from his face, he should be able to see he is a decent guy.

TE and LG leave their house together and LG telsl her that his dad must be pretty shocked that he’s dating a guy without an identity. TE says she’s going to find out where SR had been. LG says he’s leaving today and TE asks whether he’s really leaving righ tnow. LG asks whether he should stay, just for today. TE asks whether he will stay if she stops him. He asks if she’s sincere, and she replies that she’ll see him after her work is done. She goes to her car and takes something out from the car, which she claims is an excuse to stop him from leaving. It’s a black jacket – exactly like the one we saw on the man who saved young Lee Gon from Lee Rim.

SJ is in the police station and TE arrives. She asks a favour from SJ and he looks at her. She wants to look for Luna.

They go to look for Ms Koo eun-A and realise that she has not been in for almost 4 days. They realise they really need to find her as SR may have done something to her. They receive news that Koo Eun-A was reported as missing. They put together the pieces and decide they need to go to Yangsun Care Centre where Lee Seong-jae died (Lee Lim’s counterpart).

At Yangsun Care Centre, they ask the staff in charge whether she knows Eun-A. The staff demands for a warrant again. SJ asks why it is that there are so many rooms that need ID cards and he reaches out for the staff’s ID card. They do a search of the Care Centre. The staff looks uneasy and nervous.

Flashback to the scene of JY being in the lift with Jung-hye – nothing much happens.

We are now in the hotel room and LG takes out the jacket from the bag, saying that someone did not want him to attract attention in this world. JY speaks to LG and asks if LG would like to have a drink with him. LG asks him if there’s something on his mind. JY excuses himself to go and buy some soju. LG remembers SJ’s mum in Corea, pleading with him, and calls SJ but nobody picks up.

LG puts on the jacket and the cap – and now we know, he’s definitely the one who went back in time. The doorbell rings and it’s TE at the door (or is it Luna?). He asks her if she skipped work.

We are back at the Care Centre again and SJ is searching around. He walks from room to room and stumbles upon a room that looks suspicious. he tries to open the door, but it’s locked tight. He scans the ID card. TE is in a room where bodies are stored and she finds Eun-A’s body.

We move to LR walking by the river and he sees a huge poster of LG on the building. He stops in his tracks and looks at it again. (I’m confused by this scene)

Back in the hotel, Luna tells LG that she looked up how to grow magic lily but realises it’s difficult to grow them. She tells LG that the flower symbolises “hopeless love”. LG looks at her and says, “I thought I wouldn’t be fooled, but that face is his weakness.” He tells her that she has a look at anxiety, which TE wouldn’t have.

LG takes the ID card from Luna and he sees himself in the mirror in that black jacket, holding the ID card. He immediately recalls what happened when he was young and how the black man was skilled with a gun…

We cut to LR.
LR: He knew the structure of the cheonjongo well, and knew who the enemy was.

Back to LG
LG: He was fighting with all his might for me. The one who saved me…

LR: The one who saved you was yourself

LG: It was me. So that’s how everything comes together.

LG falls to the ground, coughing, panting. He collapses to the ground. Luna has poisoned him.

We flashback to the man in black, standing over young LG. The man’s eyes are clearly Lee Gon’s.

Thank you for reading. Review of the episode will be posted tomorrow.

Dinner Mate/ Will You have Dinner with Me (Episodes 1 – 4)


Adding to the mix of new dramas is MBC’s Dinner Mate, starring Seo Ji-Hye as Woo Do-Hee, a member in the planning team of a Youtube channel 2N Box, and Song Seung-Heon as Dr Kim Hae-Kyung, a psychiatrist who takes his clients out for dinner as therapy. Lee Ji-Hoon and Son Na-Eun also star as Do-Hee and Hae-Kyung’s first loves respectively, but we have not really met them in the first week, except for Son Na-Eun’s character, Ji No-Eul, through flashbacks.

At the heart of Dinner Mate is the simple belief that we share food and have meals together with people that we love. Food and meals certainly feature a lot within the first episode as we start off with Do-Hee recalling the opening scene from Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Holly Golightly stands in front of a jewelry window eating a croissant and sipping coffee. We immediately switch to a less-than-ideal meal between Young-dong (played by Kim Jung-hyun) and Do-Hee, where he over-peppers her steak before awkwardly feeding it to her. She researches recipes to cook for him, as a sign of her love for him.

Hae-Kyung is a psychiatrist who believes in diet counselling and helps his patients by having meals with them. He flies all the way to Jeju to have dinner with a client and meets Do-Hee on the flight. She’s all excited as she thinks Young-dong is going to propose to her in Jeju, so she buys all sorts of good food to cook at the supermarket. However, she reaches the same restaurant that Hae-Kyung and his client are at, only to realise that Young-dong is proposing to someone else and wants to end it with her. He tells her he’s leaving her because he stopped enjoying meals with her and found them a chore.

In a hilarious turn of events, the patrons at the restaurant ask Hae-Kyung to help Do-Hee and cheer him on as he pursues her. He finds her at the water’s edge and thinks she’s going to jump off. As he runs to stop her, she turns away to avoid him, which results in him falling over and getting a concussion. He ends up in the hospital and Do-Hee watches over him until he awakens. Do-Hee helps him to get to the airport to catch his flight, but he is too late and remembering what he saw about Do-Hee earlier, goes out of the airport and invites her to have dinner together with him.

Dinner Mates is so charming because it’s such a light-hearted and easy show to watch. Our two leads are very well-fleshed out and the storyline is simple and straightforward, where two people with very different lives come together to find love and healing. The first two episodes plant the seeds for a very convincing and meaningful romance, as we see that both Do-Hee and Hae-Kyung have been hurt by past relationships. Yet it’s also super fun to see both of them together as they are so different in their personalities and way of life.

The third and fourth episodes really bring on the laughs as we see Hae-Kyung cruelly turning down Do-Hee’s dinner invitation by telling her they’ll meet at 8 p.m. at the fish market when Tae Jin-Ah’s song becomes a number one hit. She’s offended by this and interestingly enough, when she goes back to Seoul, she seems more bothered by how Hae-Kyung turned her down so offensively, rather than by Young-dong dumping her. Do-hee being tasked by her boss to get Dr Kim on 2N Box leads to a series of extremely heated (and hilarious) email exchanges. To both their surprise, Tae Jin-Ah’s song actually becomes number one due to a virus, and the fourth episode ends with them meeting at the fish market.

Dinner Mate has definitely started off well with two very likable yet flawed main characters and a good mix of humorous and sweet scenes. Their growing friendship is nicely developed, with a good mix of coincidences yet intentional decisions on each other’s part. Seo Ji-Hye and Song Seung-heon are good in their roles and they have great chemistry. I’m looking forward to more of their adventures together!

Hospital Playlist – Finale


Hospital Playlist delivers a mega-finale of almost two hours long with medical cases and movements in all the love stories involving our five core members and their residents. Most of the developments pave the way for a second season (which has just been confirmed – YAY!) and it’s only Jeong-Won and Gyu-wool’s long-drawn “courtship” that gets a happy ending in this episode. While I felt the finale suffered a little in pacing due to the long length and way too many cases to follow, it was a heartwarming and heartfelt end to what has been a very enjoyable series.

One idea that tied many of our characters’ stories together in the finale was that of crossroads. Many of them are at decisive points in their lives, where they need to make critical decisions that will affect their professional lives, their love lives or both.

For Song-Hwa, she has already made that decision in Episode 11 on her own to move to Sokcho branch to rest and fix her neck problem. I always enjoy the confidence of her character, which comes from a position of moral clarity as she knows what is right and what needs to be done. Because of that, all her residents even line up to see her for advice above their research, about their love life or about work in general.

It is only with Ik-jun’s recent confessions of liking her that that she has been more tongue-tied lately, where her usual eloquence is replaced by an uncertain silence. She was similarly silent with Chi-hong’s awkward act of placing his hands on her shoulders last week, but that silence conveyed discomfort and unease. However, with Ik-Jun, I saw her silence revealing a sense of dilemma.

Throughout the series, Song-hwa has been so strongly independent and comfortable with spending time alone. What she’s struggling with also is admitting to her feelings and therefore becoming more vulnerable. I really liked the camera work in this scene – portraying both Ik-Jun and Song-Hwa as being at the ‘borders’ of the middle windowpane – they are clearly in separate spaces, but they are now in that in-between space, whether to move forward and be together, or to move out and therefore be separated again. What’s even more brilliant is that we can see Ik-Jun has moved more towards the centre, slightly away from the border, with his confession – whereas Song-hwa is at the border. My hope in Season 2 is for Song-hwa to agree to exploring the relationship and then seeing how they move from close friends to lovers.

While Song-hwa and Ik-Jun handle more personal cross-roads, we see both Jeong-won and Seok-hyeong struggling with bigger decisions. For Jeong-won, he finally makes about whether to take on priesthood and stay at the hospital. His friends, his parents and the hospital are all clear on what the better choice is. For him, it has been such a huge struggle as he sees priesthood as the best way to honour God. However, he has realised that staying in the hospital allows him to serve God and do good as much. As Song Hwa tells him, “Stay here and save more lives.” The episode certainly affirmed that with his tireless care of the girl for four days, and the whole family noticing and observing it.

Part of me was fearful that the show would go down the over-sentimental line of him struggling and then finally deciding when Gyu-wool cries in front of him. However, the show took a much better route by allowing Jeong-won to make that decision first, and then deciding that Gyu-wool was one of the first he wanted to tell, even before the other guy friends.

Yet in deciding to stay on, he is not abandoning God or his religion – and once again, I enjoy the camera-work and directing of the show as the rosary that Jeong-won carries on his wrist is often highlighted or zoomed in on at critical moments, an affirmation too that kindness and love comes from his desire and love for God.

Seok-hyung has similarly big decisions to make in this episode, both professionally and personally. Regarding the decision to take over his dad’s company, though he was placed in a dilemma, all along we knew what choice he would make. Him going through the thinking process also gave him clarity on what he wants in life and what he want.

As he tells his friends, “I don’t want to waste time. My time is too precious for that. I want to live doing the things I like and the things I want to do right now. That’s why I wanted to start a band. I used you guys.” His touching moment makes everyone silent and awkward, and this is broken by Ik-Jun when he says “As if”, and everyone laughs together. These wonderful friendship moments are what make this show shine.

While making the right choice professionally, Seok-hyung still wavers in his love life, not because he was hurt by his divorce, but because of how much he felt his ex-wife, Sin-hye, was hurt by him. He tells Ik-jun that he does not want Min-Ah to be hurt and that he asked her to date someone better, because his life is complicated. As a caring and loving friend, Ik-jun offers him a different perspective gently – “If you weren’t divorced and in this complicated situation, you would have dated Dr. Chu” and he advises Seok-hyung to open up himself to love again.

Seok-hyung thinks him and Min-ah are back to a professional relationship after he turned her down. However, it certainly is not. This is where the production of this show shines – as Seok-hwa voices over about how the friends differ in terms of how they like to eat, she and Jeong-won share that Seok-hyung loves eating ramyeon by himself while watching videos. However, we see him genuinely smiling even as Min-ah barges into his office with a drink and fishcakes and he enjoys eating together with her.

At the end of the finale, he is faced with a dilemma – whether to open himself up and agree to have dinner with Min-ah, or to protect himself and reject her. He decides to turn her down, and gets a call from Sin-hye. This is one storyline I’m keen to see in Season 2, because Seok-hyung obviously was very affected by this experience. What Season 1 hasn’t been so good at doing is to show us how our characters who have been hurt have healed emotionally. We are aware that there are characters like Ik-Sun, Ik-Jun, Seok-hyung who have experienced pain in their love life. With a second season, let’s hope the show can go more in depth to explore these areas.

And finally, we have Jun-Wan. While he’s professionally adept and makes good decisions, we see him this episode that Jae-hak, who has been under his mentorship, rises to the occasion and makes a critical decision to save the man with a punctured aorta. It is also Jae-hak that helps Jun-wan to make an important decision on the relationship to send Ik-sun a ring. It was endearing to see Jun-wan being so lost and uncertain.

He makes the decision to send her the ring. However, the package he has sent to her is returned. They are such a sweet and adorable couple that we really want the best for them, so let’s hope Season 2 explores them working out these issues in a mature and healthy manner.

The song “You to Me, Me to You” that ties the finale together is a fitting ensemble piece that celebrates how relationships of all sorts – friendship, colleagues, family, love – have been at the core of this wonderful show. While many questions remain unanswered at the end of this season, what we are left with is a comforting sense that these friends will always be there for each other and their friendship is definitely something I’m looking forward to enjoying once again in Season 2. Thank you Hospital Playlist for a wonderful journey. Ending off this review with the song that ends off this season.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar Episodes 1 & 2 Review


JTBC’s first drama to air on a Wednesday-Thursday time-slot delves into the supernatural as it features a pop-up bar manned by three members, all of whom have supernatural abilities.

The female lead is Wol-Joo, played by Hwang Jung-eum, and she has the ability to enter people’s dreams and psyche to help them resolve their problems or inner turmoil. Playing her superior, Chief Gwi, is Choi Won-Young, who is there to keep her in check and to support her in her goal of helping 100,000 human beings. In the first episode, Wol-Joo and Chief Gwi come across Han Kang-bae (played by Yook Sung-Jae) who has the ability to make people pour out the truth and their deepest darkest secrets to him when he touches their hands. They see him as being extremely valuable in helping Wol-Joo identify those who need help and how to help them. Within the second episode, Kang-bae is recruited into their team and the trio are all ready to work towards the Wol-Joo’s goal of 100,000.

Woel-Joo certainly reminds us a lot of Jang Man Wol from Hotel Del Luna, especially her personality and also her sad past. However, this drama certainly isn’t a copy cat and has a clear and distinct tone as well as different rules from Hotel Del Luna. It’s a highly creative show which is able to blend humour and darker themes and moments very well. For now, the format of the show seems to follow a “case of the week” format, with each episode featuring a different human that the trio will help. The issues are certainly very real and dark, with the first two episodes exploring issues to do with workplace sexual harassment, jealousy, trauma and living with guilt. I thought the first episode was bolder than the second, with many scenes of the male superior harassing the female subordinate that made me very uncomfortable. The second episode dealt with a somewhat more familiar type of story, of hidden pasts and guilt.

However, even though the issues may be familiar, the ways in which they are explored are unique. Woel-Joo gives a special magic liquor to those that she wants to help, causing them to go into a deep sleep where she can then enter their dreams. From the first episode, we see that Mi-ran enters into a room where she can see her memories and Woel-Joo dealing with Mr Park. From that, Woel-Joo then gains strength to report Mr Park the next day.

After watching the first episode, I expected the second episode to follow roughly the same formula again, with Kang-Bae agreeing to help and then they go into someone’s dream and helps them. However, even in the second episode, the show starts to throw a wrench in how things happen and reveals even more fun and fascinating facts! Woel-Joo refuses to help the Ms Andong after Kang-Bae makes her reveal that she actually caused the death of her daughter’s, Eun-Su’s, real mum through spreading rumours. This makes Kang-bae resort to having to steal Woel-Joo’s liquor so he can help the Eun-Su. I really liked how the show was willing to already push the boundaries and show us what happens when someone unauthorised uses the liquor.

However, the show gets even more fun when the trio go in search of Eun-Su’s real father, because Ms Andong’s last wish before she died was for Eun-Su to meet him. They realise the father was traumatised after his wife’s death and now had amnesia. He blocked out all that happened back then, including the happy memories. While this is a very serious and tragic issue, the show explores this in such a fun, humorous manner while not trivialising it. The trio realises that they need to go deep down into the man’s psyche to unearth his memories and they literally walk down a deep, dark spiral staircase and reach a locked door, behind which his memories are stashed. It was both exciting and humorous to see them try to unlock the door, but Kang-bae saves the day as he recalls the man’s birthday. The visuals were over the top, with the collapsing pathway to the door, but it’s so crazy and fun.

If you can’t already tell, I love this show! Woel-Joo is so hilarious in her directness and her mannerisms, but we know she has a dark and painful past that will come to haunt her in the episodes to come. Hwang Jung-eum has such a manic energy about her and she’s so charismatic and confident. The character of Woel-Joo is very well written thus far and we know enough of her from each episode to sympathise with her and also yearn to find out more about what exactly her sins were in the past, that made her choose coming to earth instead of the Hell of Extinction.

The first two episodes have put the show off on a good footing by setting up the dynamics and providing so much laughs and excitement. I’m certainly looking forward to more visits to our Mystic Pop-up Bar!

Unlocking the Keys to Kdrama Webminar

Dear readers, I’m planning to have a webinar soon to cover a comprehensive approach to appreciate Kdrama using dramas like Healer, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Legend of the Blue Sea, Goblin, Suspicious Partner, Hotel Del Luna and The World of the Married. I will draw on literary and film analysis learnt from my Masters in Literature and Education and also my experience writing 200 blog entries.

If you are interested, do indicate your interest by clicking this link!

The World of the Married Special (Part 1 & 2)


This is the first time I’ve actually watched an entire “Special” for a series, which shows how much I loved the series, but also how interesting this special was. I usually don’t enjoy watching it as I find it’s just a chance to rehash plot points and let the cast members sing praises of each other. While there was some of it this time round too, I appreciated too how the special allowed us to gain more insights into the characters and key moments.

Part 1

Part 1 focused mainly on walking us through key moments in the series and the actors/actresses personal responses to it. For a series with so many emotional moments, walking through the entire series within an hour was a quick and effective way to relive its intensity. When watching this, I remembered how the ending of Episode 1 just blew me away, so I went to rewatch the ending again just to experience that powerful moment when Sun Woo’s world just fell apart.

It’s not an understatement to say that the actors really put their all into the series and the emotions we felt as we watched them were so powerfully felt by them even on the set. And you must realise that when acting on set, there are so many distractions like cameras in your face, lights above you, as well as no score in the background which can detract from the emotional experience. Yet, you hear Han Soo Hee sharing that her hands were trembling and she felt like vomiting when she acted that scene where Sun Woo finally reveals all.

Kim Hee Aee also shares about the scene in the hospital, where she walks into the director’s room and sees In-Kyu as well as Tae Oh there. While she knew it was already written in the script, when she opened the door to the room, she was just taken aback by the toxic energy in the room

One actress that really impressed me during this special was Shim Eun Woo. Though less experienced than most of the cast members, from her interviews, you could really see how much she had brought to her character and how invested she was.

When talking about the scene after In-Kyu dies and she warns Sun Woo not to end up as her, Eun Woo tears up uncontrollably and says, “I think I felt really sorry for Sun Woo. If Hyun Seo’s character wasn’t in the story, Sun Woo wouldn’t have reflected on herself. I don’t think she would have looked back.”. As the episode ends, she calls this drama “the last and best present I got in my 20s”.

Part 2

I felt Part 2 was a whole lot of fun as it went into the technical details of the show, like the choice of Sun Woo’s home, how characters were framed in shots, costume choices and even the choice of art pieces. Some things we learn:

  • Sun Woo’s home only has one single shut window, which highlights the secrecy of their life – you can’t look in and you can’t figure out what’s going on. The house shows the stability and instability of married life.
  • The ‘title’ scene of each episode was a “spoiler” for what happens in the episode. There’s actually an image hidden in the title from a key scene in the show. The special only talks about four episodes, but you can find out from this site what the image is for all 16 episodes.
  • I loved how they illustrated the use of windows and their frames to show the fracturing of relationships. Like in the scene below:
  • There was also a segment where they talked about outfits and how Sun Woo and Da Kyung’s dressing starts to become similar after Da Kyung gets married, to show how their feelings become similar.
  • Even the choice of art pieces was intentional, like how this Mark Rothko’s art piece that he made after his divorce is in the background as Tae Oh is violent towards Sun Woo

After going into the technical details, there’s another segment where they speak of the young actors/actresses and how well they did (which I wasn’t quite keen on) and another segment where they interviewed 4 specialists on whether Tae Oh was guilty or not – and the conclusion was 3 Guilty – 1 Not Guilty. I learnt a new term called “habit strength” and get to hear interesting psychological perspectives on Tae Oh’s behaviour, like one who shared that he has actually 4 different egos and finds it difficult to reconcile them.

And we end off with brief interviews of the cast members where they all talk about how this show will linger on in their memory for a long time. I have no doubt at all of this – it will certainly linger in mine too. A jampacked two hours where we learn more about the characters, the technical details of the film, about psychology – a definite must-watch for all ardent fans of the show.

Announcing my first webinar!

Having written over 200 blog entries on k-drama, I have decided to launch a webinar very soon titled “Unlocking the Keys to K-drama” soon.

Drawing on my two Masters (one in Literature and the other in Teaching), the webinar will cover my comprehensive approach to analysing and appreciating dramas more. The course will cover popular dramas (like Goblin and The World of the Married), but also lesser-known but well-made ones.

Spaces are limited. If you are keen to appreciate k-dramas more deeply, click here.