HOW CAN IT ALL END SO QUICKLY I NEED MORE SON OH GONG. PLEASE.
The episode starts off with a tribute to the classic, where Ma Wang tells the kids (Han Joo’s children) the story of a monkey born from stone who had a bad temper. In order to placate him, the Heavens made him into a deity, but they later punished him because he took a pillar from the heavenly palace to block the fire in the rocky mountains, something which scared the humans. They locked him up in the Five Elements Mountain and he was then forgotten by the humans. Why? “Because humans behave differently before and after they pooped.” HAHA Ma Wang.
He sighed that the monkey had his real punishment now and is being sad and lonely somewhere. While he narrates the story, we see that Oh Gong didn’t die, and is actually being nurtured back to health slowly by those around him. However, he refuses to step out of Suremdong and Ma Wang thus had to keep sending in people in to lure him out – like this bunch of kids that he’s talking to. Ma Wang has such a greasy feel when he smiles so eerily sometimes! Also, question – how does he send the kids in? I thought people can only enter Suremdong when Oh Gong wants to?
We see that post-Dragon, Oh Gong has completely forgotten everything that has happened, including Seon Mi. Interacting with one of the kids (the child spirit’s brother) however brings back memories of Seon Mi as a kid, and this creates intense heart pain for Oh Gong. Ma Wang explains to Bo Ri that Oh Gong’s memory, just like his body, has shattered into pieces. However, ironically, it was his heart, which Guemganggo was wrapped tightly around, that was left intact. The Guemganggo saved his life. Bo Ri also reveals to us that it was Sam Jung’s order that they prevent Oh Gong from killing her; together with hiding the sword in Suremdong, the couple broke the death fate.
Turns out Bo Ri has suggested to the Heavens for Seon Mi to return from the Underworld for 1 day so that she can remove the Guemganggo. This is accepted, and the couple meet again on the bridge in Suremdong, just like they did way back in the first few episodes. Seon Mi tears up seeing him with his Guemganggo, while Ma Wang explains to Secretary Ma that he intentionally withheld the truth from Bo Ri – that Oh Gong is the new owner of Guemganggo, not Seon Mi.
However, without memories of Seon Mi, Oh Gong treats her like a pest and rejects her help with the Guemganggo. After all, this is the thing which held his heart together. Oh Gong asks coldly what happens after the Guemganggo was placed on him, and she smiles that she fell deeply in love with him.
The other demons congregate to discuss about this, while Alice -the real one- turns up because she is confused with a photo she found in her phone. PK takes over and sees himself, Jade Dragon, Bu Ja and Summer Fairy in the photo. He notes sadly, “I’m the only one left.” This is sad – they had all really left eh. I felt the oomph.
Ah Sa Nyeo now finds herself rotting but unable to die. She initially wonders if it’s because Sam Jung has died, but upon reading the news that Kang has fallen in the circle of politics, she realises that she really became an evil spirit. Her powers were tied to how much Kang, the evil human, flourishes.
Speaking of Kang, he’s angry that the media, academic and legal circles have abandoned him. He drinks himself to unconsciousness and finds himself tied up in the coffin – the very coffin which he wanted to bury Bu Ja in – under the orders of the very ones who put him on the pedestal. On hindsight, I wish that Kang was better nurtured as a villain. He just felt kinda greasy and grimy from the start, without enough backstory perhaps? And within a quick swoop, he is taken down like that, although I do think his demise is okay (more on that later).
As the episode progresses, we spend a part of the day with Seon Mi wanting to take off the Guemganggo, while a cynical Oh Gong presses for details on their relationship. This in effect allows the couple to relive their memories – such as present Seon Mi kissing Oh Gong to reenact the activation process and Oh Gong remembering their kiss in the bookseller’s mansion. Seon Mi wants him to come out of Suremdong. In a flashback, Bo Ri passed a necklace to Seon Mi which would allow her to enter the human world for exactly one day. Okay, but I’m also quite tired of watching Seon Mi reach out to touch the Guemganggo only for Oh Gong to pull his arm back.
With increasing number of flashbacks, Oh Gong knows somewhat that Seon Mi was telling the truth. Ma Wang comes home, never as touched as he is now to see Oh Gong’s coat carelessly thrown over his bull statue. He closes his eyes in tears as Oh Gong emerges from the bathroom, and talks lovingly of the days when Oh Gong leaves the bathroom floor filled with foam suds. “That must be right. I did exactly that today.” I love how Ma Wang is reminiscing the things which he hated Oh Gong for previously.
Ma Wang gets serious and tells Oh Gong to piece his memories together so that he can remove the Guemganggo. Seon Mi visits her office and quickly covers her star necklace when Han Joo returns with some of her belongings. Han Joo sits in her office and tears over her umbrella, but Seon Mi accidentally knocks over a bottle and uncovers her necklace, thus revealing herself to Han Joo. Han Joo tries to faint, but fails so he hits himself hard with the umbrella, thus knocking himself out for real. HAHAH. Han Joo, you never fail to make my day.
He finally wakes up the next day and finds Ma Wang and Secretary waiting in the office. Turns out, Seon Mi wants to leave the company to Han Joo and it will be his, as long as he signs on the transfer papers. “She would like to see you crying happily at Han Byul’s wedding.” As Han Joo weeps over the papers, Seon Mi tears from outside the office.
Just as the duo leave the office, a flourish of cherry blossoms comes fluttering down, leaving Ma Wang to wonder if his wife reincarnated as cherry blossoms this life.
As Oh Gong walks through Seon Mi’s house, he relives memories and turns around to face Seon Mi. He’s not surprised that he treats her badly but he wonders, “Why does it hurt so badly?” He doesn’t want her to take out the Guemganggo. Instead, it’s lunch time and she should know what he likes to eat. She lies that he ate spicy rice cakes everyday and he retorts that if he hates it, he will cause all spicy rice cakes to disappear from the world. Seon Mi’s face of shock is hilarious hahaha, knowing that Oh Gong can really cause rice cakes to disappear.
Ma Wang tries to find the grandmother at the shop, but runs into the grandson once again. He decides to leave his number with him, so that he can contact him when the peddler returns. He’s taken aback to see a photo of falling stars on the grandson’s phone and learns that on that day, the peddler told him to pay his respects to the stars. The grandson looks over and comments that he also saw cherry blossoms earlier in the morning. Ma Wang looks down at his phone to see 3 blossom petals stuck to his phone. Right at that moment, it all fits in together and Ma Wang’s eyes tear up as he asks, “What’s your name?” and the grandson replies, “Hong Hae Ah.” For the readers/watchers of the original, this is the proof we were waiting for, as Hong Hai Er (Red Child in translation) is the child of Ma Wang and Princess Iron Fan.
Upon hearing that the fitting room has a rotting smell, PK comes to the rescue, knowing that it is actually Ah Sa Nyeo. Nevertheless, he is taken aback to see the extent of the rot. “On her behalf, can you burn me?” PK’s face flickers with torture. He brings her to a nice and quiet park and Ah Sa Nyeo tells him not to struggle as Bu Ja has already totally disappeared before she became an evil spirit. That good soul. You will be mourned! “The only one left in this body is me.” PK conjures up a fire and hesitates. Ah Sa Nyeo’s eyes shows determination as she conveys the last words of Bu Ja, “I like you,” and she pushes his hand of fire into her chest. As she accidentally gets thrown onto the ground, she smiles sadly as the fire burns through her and she disappears. And that, is the end of Jung Se Ra/Ah Sa Nyeo. I don’t know about you but it was slightly unanticipated for me that Bu Ja did not resurface in the end, and that Ah Sa Nyeo just disappeared like this. To think the drama had tried to dangle this tidbit in front of us for so many episodes!:(
I guess however, there was a point to Bu Ja’s farewells after all (remember she bade her farewells before she met Ah Sa Nyeo?). It was so wistful when Ah Sa Nyeo tells PK that Bu Ja did like him. It was also quite poignant to watch Ah Sa Nyeo all defeated, realising that she’s a evil spirit after all. When an evil spirit reaches such self-awareness, there is something very sad about it, especially since she did not become one by her own doing. Plot-wise though, it is much easier to accept Bu Ja’s passing because Seon Mi died – she would not have survived anyway. However, in response to my comment in Episode 19 review, seems like there was really no point in Ah Sa Nyeo gearing herself up for being the biggest, worst evil ghost there is then.
Under Ma Wang’s probing, Bo Ri casually puts his arms into a circle (for correct) when he asks whether Princess reincarnated into flowers. In return, Ma Wang reveals that Oh Gong has already taken off the Guemganggo before.
It’s soon night time and the couple has returned to the park. Seon Mi cute-ly reminds Oh Gong that they have been to many places – the bookseller’s mansion, the supermarket and a love motel. But just like Oh Gong’s scoffing, they didn’t go there for normal couple-y activities, but to “catch evil spirits.” Seon Mi hesitates to tell him that they came to this park also to catch evil spirits. Hahaha. However, just like how Seon Mi hopes, all this talk about evil spirits does bring back a whirl of vivid memories of their evil spirit capturing endeavours. Finally, because she says, “You even hung a star in the sky for me,” he suddenly recalls that night in his room when she was so fascinated looking out of his roof at stars.
Oh Gong’s heart hurts again and he realises that Seon Mi is lying – it wasn’t just her following him blindly. “It was me who loved you so much that I put a star in the sky for you.” With a snap of his fingers, the stars fell into her lap. He finally relents and sticks out his arm for her but Seon Mi cannot remove the Guemganggo. How then can she be so sure that his feelings will go away after the Guemganggo is gone? She admits that she can’t, because she has never heard his true feelings once. “But I believed that without the Guemganggo, your feelings would disappear.”
Oh Gong closes his eyes in pain and mutters, “Leave well.” He stalks home and Ma Wang wants him to persist in finding the most important piece of memory. Oh Gong returns to Suremdong and walks past the very rock that Seon Mi dies on, the rock where he hugged her body and cried when she died (omg that moment was such a fine scene) – and there we have it, Oh Gong murmuring, “Jin Seon Mi.”
As if to provide us some context and I guess closure, General Frost asks PK if it’s regrettable hearing Bu Ja’s real feelings, but PK doesn’t think that way. Although he’s sad, he’s happy now. PK comments that if Sam Jung leaves now, she wouldn’t be able to hear Oh Gong’s true feelings, but General Frost tells him of the time he froze the Guemganggo over – and that was the one time she heard his true feelings.
Similarly, Seon Mi who was left alone has wandered to the locks and suddenly recalls that very same day. She turns around to find that Oh Gong has appeared. He calls, “Jin Seon Mi,” and reveals that he also remembers her last words. That when Guemganggo is taken away, it’s a relief love wasn’t left behind. “I hid something from you.” Oh Gong takes off the Guemganggo himself and it disappears. “If you want to ask something, ask me now. Please ask.”
“Do I still look pretty now?” “Yeah, you look pretty….because I love you.” Aaaah, this is WAY better than I imagined it to be. He walks over and pulls her into a tight hug. She cries about having to leave him behind like this and Oh Gong is determined not to let her go just like that. He closes her eyes and presses his forehead to hers. When she reopens, she now possesses one of his fiery red eyes. “Remember my name.” No matter where she is, he will now be able to recognise her. “I will definitely find you.” Wow smart monkey!! I’m pleased that they actually linked to the Fiery Eyes because that is one unique attribute of Oh Gong!
As a tear comes down from his face, Oh Gong says, “We will meet again.” The star necklace blinks and she has to go.
Oh Gong touches her hair carefully and longingly, before stepping back, “Go.” She disappears with a smile on her face as Oh Gong sobs. I think this is one of my top favourite scenes of this episode and maybe the past few episodes!
I wasn’t too impressed initially at how Seon Mi kept saying throughout the day, “Let me remove the Guemganggo,” or to that effect. Someone count it, I’m sure it’s more than 5 times. I also wasn’t entirely sure where this was going but it was so worth it ultimately. That moment where Oh Gong finally removes his Guemganggo and tells Seon Mi that she’s still pretty, “Because I love you” was ten times better than I imagined it to be. That’s mostly because I thought it would be a happy ending and therefore cliche, but this heartbreaking scene where he tells her, someone who is going to disappear in minutes, that his love is enduring is so bittersweet and impactful!
The whole scene was so tender, gentle, sad and full of yearning, even from how he wipes her tears away right before she leaves, and how he smiles to let her go with no regrets.
And when she does leave, oh my, Lee Seung Gi, I really feel your tears. You have really been phenomenal in this show.
A while later, we see Han Joo visiting haunted estate with the yellow umbrella, hoping to reenact the past victories of Seon Mi. But he hilariously cannot see the ghosts, even though he does aim the umbrella in the right direction, and he scoots off in fear.
Due to the umbrella, he accidentally wanders into General Frost’s bar and reminisces the big shots who visited the office in the past, especially the mysterious man who loved Seon Mi.
He wonders why these people were around his CEO and if it’s possible that she’s not human.
General Frost smiles, “It’s possible that only your CEO is human,” which scares Han Joo a lot hahaha.
The two cheeky demons of our show look over the gorge, where Ma Wang reveals that he’s going to build a hotel to absorb all the evil spirits and rack up points. He’s going to try and become a deity again, this time to protect someone (Hong Hae Ah). Oh Gong smiles that it’s nice being here with Ma Wang and Ma Wang concedes that Oh Gong was really cool through this whole incident. They laugh as Oh Gong jokes that Ma Wang has completely fallen in love with him, and he’s going to be bored without Oh Gong. Where’s Oh Gong going? Well there’s someone waiting for him.
“Ma Wang, let’s meet again in the middle of our journey.” And thaaat’s the end of our cheeky brothers. I kinda liked this ending – it is closure and yet open-ended at the same time. It reminds you that this is a world where demons don’t really die and while we are sad that they are parting ways at this point, there is bound to be a point in time in the future where they cross paths again.
As for what Ma Wang’s up to, he loves to ‘catch’ Hong Hae Ah in his illegal peddling. As established earlier, both of them love mushroom porridge and the two cutely bicker as they walk off together. Guess Ma Wang’s resolution is pretty good, being able to secretly hang out with his (very good looking) son and his son having all the same habits as him. It’s sad that he doesn’t get to see his love anymore, but it’s consoling that he now has his child and a goal to work towards.
Ma Wang returns home to find the monkey statue gone and hears to his shock that Oh Gong has gone to the underworld to fetch Seon Mi. He starts to laugh and says with the same vigour as he does with his all pass, “The Great Sage, that nut job!”
And we see Oh Gong speeding down an expressway and smiling.
Wait for me, when you are suffering, in fear or in danger, you just need to call my name. No matter where I am, I will always find you immediately and protect you. Because I love you.
First off, I know how this stupid this sounds but I did not expect Seon Mi to REALLY die. I confess to not being teary at all (until Oh Gong let out his agonising cry and hugs her, omg that was one great scene) because I kept thinking that there would be some plot twist in the end. After all, didn’t she have the ability to change the visions she see? How wrong I am that all her newly gained powers didn’t do anything in the end! (Other than arguably, alert her to the fact that Oh Gong was planning something behind her back.) But it is finalised and we do end up with a dead Seon Mi.
The ending where Oh Gong has to say his goodbyes and promises to find her no matter where she goes is strongly reminiscent of Goblin’s ending – neutral observation, just thought it was interesting how the long-lived party in both cases have to seek out the dead human. Which makes sense I guess! But I like it that Korean Odyssey has its own twist on it, by having Oh Gong give his eye to Seon Mi.
On the cohesiveness and coherence of our Sam Jung plot – I get it that there is some meaning to Sam Jung being stabbed because that broke the death fate linking the two together (I guess they are trying to say that being stabbed at the hands of Kang is better than Oh Gong, despite the result being the same?) and that it kinda makes sense why Sam Jung got stabbed by Kang because she was determined not to let the stabber be Oh Gong. Taken in this view, it makes sense, but when I take a step back, it still appears to be a pointless death – there was nothing that Sam Jung did which actually helped in tackling the dragon. Ah Sa Nyeo was taken care of by General Frost. In other words, it is totally logically possible for Oh Gong to take the sword and kill the dragon, as he did, without harming Seon Mi. But I guess I could give the show the benefit of the doubt that Oh Gong only took out the legendary sword when Seon Mi died – therefore, if Seon Mi hasn’t gotten stabbed, it is possible for a whole chain of other things to happen, including the dragon possessing Seon Mi. Nonetheless, the Sam Jung-esque of the show may become one of the show’s weakest points in my opinion. Also, which twisted heavenly deity comes up with the idea of having a Protector watch over a Sam Jung?? Does it not occur to you that one would have to stab the other at the expense of love? Whether it’s platonic, family or romantic love, the fact that the protector is not an enemy but an ally, goes cruelly against notion that the very same being is the one to stab Sam Jung. Guess Sam Jungs are just vessels in their eyes after all.
In contrast to that, I am quite pleased with how Guemganggo ends up. I think it wasn’t very clear in Episode 19 that Oh Gong became the owner of the Guemganggo but I’m glad they made it explicit here – that the Guemganggo lost effect, therefore he could remove it the first time, and when he put it back, it now recognised Oh Gong as the new owner. I like it that Seon Mi wasn’t the one who removed it. I also appreciate the fact that the Guemganggo was the very thing which held his heart together so that it won’t be blown apart by the force from the dragon – nice touch there. As pointed out, who would have thought that the thing which everyone said would weaken his stone heart actually helped him stay alive?
It was also very apt that the couple returned to the very place where it was the only point in the show Oh Gong spoke his feelings without the influence of the Guemganggo. In relation to what Summer Fairy said a while ago (that she thawed the Guemganggo), I would think that she either lied to Seon Mi to make her feel better or that it is true – and that’s why the Guemganggo only froze over for a few seconds. Either way, I’m glad that they actually remembered this scene and went back to it, because I did comment in one of my recaps that it felt like a pointless scene in view of the subsequent episodes. Nice looping and greatly appreciated.
On Kang, I think his ending is pretty apt. This show is unabashed in its criticisms of humans, and while desolate, it does make sense that the people who placed him on the pedestal would also be the ones who pull him down and bury him. Such is the selfishness of humans, and such is the punishment that Kang gets. In the end, it seems like it’s just humans circling themselves into whatever endings they deserve eh?
This grey tone however is brightened up the presence of Han Joo and I think thematically, this is why he’s kept and with a huge presence – when you get jaded and think, why don’t we just let the world combust?, Han Joo is there to show you that not all humans are bad. He is such a simple, lovable and kind-hearted man and he is a symbol of the goodness in humanity.
It is also hilarious that we see the characters through Han Joo’s eyes – so that we get a last farewell from our dear characters – and also funnily, they are so much more amped up in his imagination with the wind and the smirks and the poses. It suddenly adds that fantastical element to the story and kinda reminds me once again that these are demons and deities, not normal humans.
It is funnily so in line with Oh Gong’s character to finally run out of patience and decides to wreck havoc in the afterlife so that he can get Seon Mi back. Not quite sure how it will work out practically though. But I can’t believe we really just end there and then, without another last scene of our couple together!! Why he would be driving to the afterlife is questionable, but HAHA let’s just leave him be, being all cool driving down that road with his shades. On that, I LOVE how he reiterates his promise to Seon Mi but this time, it’s said with such cheekiness and confidence – such a different rendition from our past iterations of the promise, but signifies something hopeful! Also very touching because there’s now a “Because I love you” attached at the end! Very fitting of an ending. After all, this is the promise that really kicks start the whole series. It’s also nice that Ma Wang reminds us, this is one crazy monkey we have on our hands! I’m also incredibly obsessed with the song, Let Me Out, so I am overjoyed that the drama ended with this soundtrack.
On a whole, I think the show’s strongest points are its cast’s acting (particularly liked Lee Seung Gi’s, at times Oh Yeon Seo’s and Lee Se Young’s) and interesting personalities, which is refreshing to watch and different from the rom-coms. It is also fun to note the comparisons with the classic. I wish there was more of evil-spirit catching because those times were fun, but they soon gave way to the main plot of Sam Jung being a vessel. The show took a dramatic and emo turn in the second half, and while I enjoy thoroughly watching our couple being in love, I can understand if some people just cannot get into it. I do wish as a slight quibble, that the first scene of Oh Gong speaking his true feelings came a little later in the drama. If I remember correctly, he said that after knowing Seon Mi for only a little while, and thus the timing inadvertently throws doubt on how this couple actually came to like each other. Additionally, Seon Mi initially only loves Oh Gong because he protects her – which can be objectionable because that’s just something he does (unwillingly at that) and not loving him for who he is. However, I think most shows don’t have a perfect set up of how couples fall in love. They just do and it’s up to each viewer whether he or she accepts it. For me, I’m glad this does not stop my later appreciation of the show because Lee Seung Gi as Son Oh Gong is just fantastic! Really a cheeky monkey haha. Oh Yeon Seo also makes Seon Mi into a truly unique character and I think it’s the way she subtly portrays certain elements of the personality. In someone else’s hands, Seon Mi might not be as likeable today. It’s a kind of good acting that is hard to appreciate because it’s just good subtle characterisation.
I really can’t believe that it’s all over. I don’t know if you guys can tell, but I haven’t had such high level of enthusiasm for a show in some time! I think the show did slow down at some points, could have been tighter in others, but for the most part I’m pretty pleased with this journey which has really taken my heart ups and downs, and in love with the character of Son Oh Gong. So happy that Lee Seung Gi took up this role and can’t imagine the Monkey King to be anyone else! I will miss this show so much; I was hoping so desperately that the show wouldn’t end on Oh Gong driving down the road but it did and all good things must come to an end. 😦
Thanks for being here with me and hope to see you all around!
You can catch Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey) on Viki!