Episode 16 – A Joseon Interpretation

By @justamom

This ending was DRIPPING with his love for her. It was in every glance and every word. To me, he is with her, has been with her since he told her to buy another pair of slippers and by the time she leaves for Pusan he knows it. He knows it. And he breaks down because he really, really misses her. And I’m not delusional!

1) Bong Ae’s funeral. @chickfactor probably has more to say about this but that scene with Dong Hoon at the head of the procession!!!!!!!!

Screen Shot 2018-06-24 at 11.28.54 PM

Hello guys!!!!! You know whose role that is??? The head of the family!!! The man of the family!!! Ie, the grand daughter’s husband!!!!!!


More: he can’t take his eyes off her the whole damned time. In the bus he’s literally staring at her so hard Ki Hoon offers him sunglasses. When his wife comes and leaves first. He says he’s staying with Ji An. “oh you should. She doesn’t have anyone.” But we ALL know the big damned reason. He’s the man of Ji An’s family!!! He’s the one standing there and bowing and receiving guests!!!

This is like the Joseon dynasty. The first wife comes to the concubine’s grandma’s funeral. And the emperor stays with the concubine, because she has no one else. Get it??!!

Sitting on the steps while the ahjussis play soccer. The prince finally sits down next to his bereaved concubine.

“Why are you so good to me?” she asks.

”You silly…”. He looks away because he’s embarrassed. And he isn’t yet able to articulate why, he just knows he needs to be there.

Bong Ae’s final conversation about fate. It’s fate she says — her relationship with Dong Hoon is fated.

2) Gwang Il is us. All of us jaded folks. It’s super meta — Gwang Il’s transformation is our healing. From only being able to understand one kind of possibility, our eyes have been opened to all the other kinds of possibilities out there.  By listening to Ji An and Dong Hoon, just like we have watched them over 16 episodes, he is a changed man. He did not realize such kindness, and such love could be possible. Gwang Il has redeemed himself — will you too?

3) The first parting. Remember. If Dong Hoon says he’s hungry, he’s starving. If the man cries, it’s time to evacuate!!! What does he say to Ji An when she says she’s leaving? “Why do you have to go so far???” Hello everyone that’s as good as saying he doesn’t want her to leave! Girl he’s begging you not to go!!! But that is as far as he can go at the moment. He hasn’t reached breaking point yet.


Realistically. Since this show is all about realism. It’s not just that he’s still married. He’s in his forties, already lived half his life. She hasn’t seen anything in this world except human greed and evil. How is it fair to her to ask her to stay for him, when she hasn’t seen anything beyond her pitiful life? Her life is only just beginning.

Ji An says Dong Hoon’s most heart warming words were: Want me to buy anything? When he says that on the way home, that is the moment Yeon Hee realizes—this was his way of loving her, she just never saw it.

4) Their marriage is as good as over. This is showed to us. There’s no need to explicitly say this. The whole world knows she cheated on Dong Hoon with a crook who is probably now in jail. But you know, being the first wife and all, and the mother of the crown prince, she will always be part of the family.

Ji An asking Yeon Hee. Why did you have an affair? When you had a man (as good as) Ahjussi?

Her answer. “I had a thousand, a hundred reasons. But no one real reason.”

Lets just let that sit for a while. It’s so achingly obvious. There is no way she could ever go back to Dong Hoon! She would feel way, way too ashamed! Every one in his company knows now — that scene where he’s drinking with his team and none of them dares say a word except, hehe, “I love Lee Ji An.” Which earns them what imho is a damned possessive smile on Dong Hoon! But also regret and longing–because she is no longer there.

Dong Hoon still has photos of his son and mom. Why? It’s the crown prince and his mom. She’ll always be the crown prince’s mom! But she is no longer there: instead all he has is reheated food from his mom, and he eats alone. What a pathetic existence.

That moment when he broke: surely he was thinking of his promise to Lee Ji An. I promised her I will be happy. And look at me. What am I now if not pathetic? Like all the Soompiers in this forum? Has anything changed? NO! So change it must!

5) Finding Ji An. Our dear engineer knows that he needs to let his love go out and see the world. It would only be fair to her. How could he make her stay in Hugye for the rest of her life? But he’s waiting for her to call, to come back into his life. When Ki Hoon asks about her he gets pissed off because she hasn’t called! But guess what? He’s been keeping tabs on her! He knows she is living life happily and perhaps he has been thinking…oh I guess she doesn’t want me anymore now that she has seen the world. So passive, quiet Dong Hoon can’t say more when he sees her again, even though it’s bursting out of him with that radiant smile.

And guess what….this time, she makes the move: “I’ll buy you something nice this time”. And… “I’ll call you.”

He wants so much to touch her, so much to hug her, but the best we can get from our passive, quiet engineer— “can we shake hands?”

and they do. And he won’t ever let go of her again.

The End.

I loved this show so much. I cried then I laughed, then I cried and laughed again. The funeral, the entire act was genius. GENIUS. It told us so much more about their relationship than some makjang confession scene between the two of them. There is no doubt. He loves her WITH ALL HIS LIFE.

Other popular posts on the ending:

Revisit the ending moment by moment here: A Thrilling Ending, and a Promise of More

Filming the Final Scene: BTS & Other Thoughts



6 thoughts on “Episode 16 – A Joseon Interpretation”

  1. Hi, I was rewatching the last episode and you know when he was calling the crematorium? They asked him for the eldest child’s name. We ofcourse didn’t get to hear what went on next but it does make sense now why he was the chief mourner at the funeral. I think it’s safe to assume that he’d put down his name 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oooo, thanks for sharing this. I remember the question but didn’t think much of it at that time. This show does not waste anything.


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