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