Day 15: Your Favorite Ending


As drama watchers, we know that oftentimes dramas start of well, but somehow lose steam halfway through a series. Perhaps that’s reason enough for me to not continue following currently airing dramas, and to watch only finished series that are recommended to me by friends instead. (Which I observed is actually how I’ve been choosing which dramas to watch during this past year.) Therefore it’s a nice surprise when I come across a drama that’s solid from beginning to finish. Too bad they’re rare in the market these days.

It’s funny that I should be choosing The Return of Iljimae as the drama with my favorite ending, because I recently discussed with a friend my decision in regards to choosing Jung Il Woo over Uhm Tae Woong in the last round of my ideal type challenge. T’was all about the Mane of Glory, I tell you.

The Return of Iljimae is a drama I could rewatch numerous times and still never fully grasp its brilliant narrative symbolisms and motifs. It was in this gem of a drama that I first saw Jung Il Woo act, and it was also here that I saw him as a phenomenal actor with overflowing potential. I love the ending for this drama because it stayed true to the story and to the character of Iljimae until the very end. It was poignant, without being too over-the-top, bringing a message of hope that in the future, there needn’t be one Iljimae to save the day to bring peace to citizens. I also loved how Iljimae didn’t want to be a hero, and was seen as a rather reluctant one; he’d much rather live a quiet life as a normal individual with the woman he loved. The ending didn’t tie things up in a pretty little bow, yet it was very satisfying and conclusive.

This is one of the few dramas where I think the story continues on, only not for the viewer. There are many dramas where the finale leaves too many open-ended questions unresolved, opting to use a deus ex machina as a quick fix, but The Return of Iljimae isn’t one of them. It’s a masterpiece all the way through, and it’s a drama I’d highly recommend as nourishing brain food after one binges on too much candy.

Random comment: I think City Hunter tried to have the same effect in its finale, but it somehow fell short for me. I thought it tried to do too much in its ending — tying things up as pretty as possible even though it left room for obscurity — but that’s just my opinion.

You can read more about my thoughts in a review I wrote a long time ago,

Photos Source: The Return of Iljimae’s official website

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4 thoughts on “Day 15: Your Favorite Ending

  1. I had initially watched it for JIW. Then I stopped halfway cos the character with that funny walk creeped me out so much I couldn’t continue. Having said that, I have been meaning to go back and re-watch it.

  2. I LOVE Return of Iljimae. Not only for Jung Il-woo – though I admit it’s worth watching just for him – but because the story examines so many aspects of the moral and personal aspects of who he is as a “people’s hero”. (Random aside – did you guys know that in the 1950s, Robin Hood stories were banned in some places in the US? They were deemed too “Communist”. I say it’s a sad day when people don’t like Robin Hood.) Most dramas just bring those moments up to heighten the tension but never really look at the issues themselves. I don’t know, maybe I have a philosophical bent, but I enjoyed that (and everything else, even the narrator!) about RoI. ~feels a rewatch coming on~

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