How Great Love Stories End

Some have suggested that Dong Hoon and Ji An’s parting at the cafe is an open ending. But if you compare the ending of My Ahjussi to other great love stories, its message is as clear as day: it is both a promise of more,  and the beginning of a beautiful new relationship. 

Look at all the great love stories with star-crossed lovers and their endings:

In the mood for love – Chow Mo Wan in Cambodia, whispering an unknown secret in a hole in the wall at Angkor Watt. They actually filmed an alternate ending where Chow Mo Wan and Su Li Zhen meet each other in Angkor Watt, then move on with their lives, but in the end decided to go with the star-crossed lovers ending

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The alternate ending that was canned: Su Li Zhen and Chow Mo Wan meet again in Cambodia. After the pleasantries, they coyly start asking about each other’s lives.

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“Do you have a girlfriend?”

Gone with the Wind – Rhett leaves Scarlett, who decides to go back to her family home (but she says she’ll get him back). Here he is in one of their most momentous scenes, disappearing into the purple sunset.


Hang on a second. I’ve seen that before. In the Mood For Love, after Chow Mo Wan ends his confession and leaves Angkor Wat.

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Butterfly Lovers – Liang Shan Bo and Zhu Ying Tai must die to be together forever. Zhu Ying Tai while mourning at her lovers grave is transformed and they fly off as butterflies in the sky.

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Although the degree of drama (and melodrama) varies, the ending in these famous love stories is clearly tragic, the lovers never destined to be together. Was this how My Ahjussi ended? No!

My Ahjussi could have ended at:

– The hug, Dong Hoon walking across the train tracks and back home to his wife. Ji An to her new future in Busan

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– Dong Hoon’s breakdown in his living room, when he remembers his promise to Ji An to live well and how he has failed her (or he’s crying because he’s so tormented by their separation)

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– Dong Hoon and Ji An’s happy but separate lives


– Dong Hoon and Ji An meeting, asking about each other, then walking on


Did they end at any of the above moments? NO!!!

That to me is the clearest sign of the writer and the production team’s intent. How did they choose to end it? With Dong Hoon gripping Ji An’s hand for 30 seconds.

His longing and desire conveyed in his unwillingness to let go, giving her enough confidence to ask him to meet again. For a delicious meal (and we know this means something not expensive, but one of their regular every day meals). How does Dong Hoon answer? With his shy, winsome, Mark Darcy smile. And, and!!! He calls her Ji An! Not Lee Ji An, Lee Ji An sshi, but the very intimate, Ji An.

The writer planted all the seeds for the blossoming of a beautiful, long-lasting love. Their love story lies in what was UNSAID. And that’s the show’s beauty.

Other popular posts on the ending:

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

Episode 16: A Joseon Interpretation

Filming the Final Scene: BTS & Other Thoughts


One thought on “How Great Love Stories End”

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