21 April, 2013

That Winter, The Wind Blows: Why The Ending Blew, Among Other Things


Why is it that a poor ending to a drama can completely break your heart and make you dislike a show. Okay, this just sounds like a bad break-up or something, but it was how I felt right after I finished this drama. That Winter, The Wind Blows started out incredibly well. It was beautiful, well-paced, the OST was gorgeous, Song Hye Gyeo had never looked so beautiful, Jo In Sung was incredibly swoonworthy, I loved Kim Tae Woo as the bad guy Moo Chul who I could never quite hate, and Kim Bum and Jung Eunji were as pleasurable as always. It was addiction worthy drama. bustered and I actually watched several episodes together, squeeing, screaming, shouting, and just generally having a good time together. I think my roommates thought we were a little batty as we oohed and aahed and talked to Soo and Young. It was the best kind of drama watching.


 The drama had some incredibly moving scenes (hike to the top of the mountain - be still my heart), there was beautiful pain and love and loss and misunderstanding, and that awful Secretary Wang who I could never quite figure out, which is lovely when you have characters who are so layered and nuanced. There was fauxcest that got you feeling all confused, we had cute and swoonworthiness galore. It was all good. Yes, the drama wasn't perfect. Jo In Sung had a tendency to overact, but it worked. He was a vulnerable and lovely Oh Soo, the hurt, little boy who had never felt any self-worth or a desire to actually be better than his circumstances - until he met Song Hye Gyeo's Oh Young. She was smart and caustic and not taking anybody's nonsense. She was fighting for a sense of independency despite her circumstances. Oh Soo and Oh Young from the get go had sizzling chemistry, and such dazzling beauty, that I would often forget to read the subtitles. I was moved. I was addicted. I was in love and willing to overlook the flaws. The drama seemed to make sure not to ever head into the live shoot danger zone. It even survived the mid-drama-slump that often afflicts our beloved world of drama. And then episodes 12 and 13 hit, and I'll be honest, I thought about not finishing the drama. I could see it was heading downhill. And it did not make me happy.
Glutton for punishment that I am, I decided to finish it. Episodes 14, 15, and 16 restored some of my previous love for the drama. I was hopeful that the drama could recover it's not-so-awesomeness. We had some great scenes with Soo and Young. Moo Chul was beginning to be redeemable. Things were looking up. Silly Jin Sung though was not listening to his hyung and was getting himself into trouble. I could deal with all of that. I loved that Soo walked away without the money. I was glad that he had that great talk with Hee Sun about it (the one where he broke down while drinking soju). I was really glad that Young had told him that she loved him. It was going to be okay. It wasn't going to be as excellent as it began, but I was going to be happy with it. And then somehow, that last 20 minutes of the drama completely derailed all common sense that I thought the drama still possessed, and left me in the end confused, angry, unhappy, and with no sense that there had actually been any resolution at all. It hurts.




So I started thinking about why I felt that way, and what had happened that the drama so completely derailed in those last twenty minutes or so. I think the biggest problem that started it all was that Young found out about Soo not being her oppa way to late in the drama. That conflict needed to happen a lot sooner, and it would also have been nice if (a) he had told her and (b) she had figured it out sooner. I still cannot quite buy that she remained so clueless so long. It went against every other aspect of the sharp intelligence and character she displayed in other ways earlier in the drama. And then she had to pull the pseudo-suicide card to bring him back? That really irritated me. It was as if all of Soo and Young's wonderful communication and connection evaporated and she resorted to pseudo-suicide. It just didn't feel right. And I don't really get where fiesty Oh Soo went during those final episodes. I think that this made all the other storyline conflicts short-changed in the time that they had to play out.

We ended up with almost no time to actually process Moo Chul's death. It just happened with little fanfare; so much so that we only found out for sure he was dead when his sister told Oh Soo. Okay, well maybe with Jin Sung's bleak face while carrying him as well. We never completely understood how Moo Chul had been protecting them, sure we can figure it out/infer things, but really, that's all we have. His whole storyline became almost meaningless because it had little to no impact of the trajectory of Soo's story. We never really saw Oh Soo react to his death in any meaningful way. It could have been completely written out and the story would not really have changed too much. (Though I really love the Oh Soo/Moo Chul scene where Soo kneels, begging and sobbing at the basketball court) President Kim could have been the bad guy just fine without that side arc. Sure, we wouldn't have had so much fighting/chance to vist the conflict of Hee Joo's death, but yeah, I am not convinced it was so necessary because of the way the writing played it out; I really wish it had played a bigger role. Moo Chul's character was so layered and complex and just great. And Kim Tae Woo played the devil-may-care-gangster-hyung-who-actually-is-good-ish so well. It just makes me sad because I really loved his story and I wanted to know more, and have a satisfying end to his death.


Some other things to suffer were two of the drama's big themes: forgiveness and family. In episode 7 we had that absolutely lovely scene where Soo tells Young his story and how he can't forgive himself for Hee Joo's death. It really was one of the most beautiful and memorable scenes I have seen in a long time. It was filled with pathos and suffering and forgiveness and a level of connection that Jo In Sung and Song Hye Gyeo's chemistry just allowed to really bring it home for me. It also
showed just how much Young really saw him and who he was (which is why I can't really buy the whole "she hadn't figured it out thing"). And we get that sort of scene again with the moving (though somewhat confusing) scene on the couch post suicide attempt. She is angry with him, and says she can't forgive him, but then promptly goes ahead and basically forgives him. I never really felt though that they really talked things out properly. That was as close as we got. And the more we think about it, Soo really doesn't get to tell her directly how he feels. We hear it in his voiceovers, and when she watches his video confession. I wanted more. I wanted him to tell her in person what he had said on the video. It just felt lacking to me.


We also have the whole forgiveness arc with Secretary Wang which I don't think I will ever understand. I get that Young needed her, but really, she let the woman who let her go blind - deliberately - back really fast. It was too strange to me. If it had been an uncle who had sexually abused Young, or a family friend who had beaten her, I think there would have been more cries of "Abuse, abuse!" - so it's really sad to me that the physical abuse of making Young go blind, and the emotional
manipulation and abuse Young suffered at her hands can somehow be forgiven in a matter of days or hours. That piece of the writing of this drama I will never understand. That whole pseudo-mother thing felt like some sort of emotional manipulation for us to feel sorry for Secretary Wang. I really struggle with that. I can understand forgiveness and redemption, but there was not time nor motivation enough for me to feel that for Secretary Wang. I felt like somehow her character arc in the beginning was different than it turned out in the end, but perhaps we will never know. Or I guess writer Noh Hee Kyung wasn't sure what she was doing with her character? Be that as it may, it brings to me to another major theme that got sort of gypped in my book. Family.

 As I just mentioned, Young really sees Soo, and he really sees her. This is absolutely apparent in how he talked to her the whole drama. And of course that plays nicely with Young being blind. He was the only character to always face her when he talked to her (not like that scumbag fiance who texted while talking to her). Soo acted as if she could see. He treated her like she was strong. He really was her oppa in all the ways that counted.
 By not treating her like some fragile doll, he allowed her to be so much more. It is as if he allowed her independence to blossom. Which the drama then derailed with the pseudo-suicide. While they had absolutely compelling chemistry, there was an element of family with them.





 Call it fate or whatever, his ability to understand her and she him (except for the part where she didn't figure out he wasn't her oppa)
was in many ways like that of close siblings. I think that is probably why everyone felt so uncomfortable with the fauxcest (though I could be inferring too much from comments I read on blogposts and recaps). They felt so comfortable with each other, almost as if they were siblings who had never been parted.
That partly came from the trust that Young put in Soo, but he felt so trustworthy. I think he was. Sure - there was the whole money scam going on, but almost from the get go, Soo's care for her seemed sincere and apparent to everyone. They just clicked. I think that is another reason that I wished the big reveal had come sooner.
It would have made for a much more interesting drama if they both knew that the other knew Soo wasn't her oppa - the cuddling and the cake baking would have been so much more satisfying to watch if they both knew they weren't really siblings. And the real oppa, absolutely no resolution there. It makes me wonder if the writer was originally going to play that aspect up, but due to the popularity of the drama chickened out for less tragedy.
It certainly seemed from the beginning episodes and Soo and Jin Sung visiting the river where Oh Soo's - the brother - ashes were scattered. It was only briefly revisited in the "I can't forgive you-but I do" scene with Young and Soo.


 Another aspect of the family dynamic was that both of them came from broken families, and together they experienced some measure of healing by being together. Actually many of the relationships in the drama followed that sort of pattern. Soo was like a son (albeit often a bad one) to Jin Sung's parents. Hee Sun really acted like his donsaeng and Jin Sung was totally his little brother in thought and feeling.
 Young also had a mother figure in Wang (a rather twisted one that is), but all in all, the drama seemed to call into question what family is, what love is, and whether blood can truly define those relationships completely. It was sad that the only person who probably really and truly loved Young, okay, maybe also Lawyer Jang, was the conman Oh Soo, who was trying to swindle her.
 Her real family had abandoned her (though he brother really did love her too) and she was very much isolated. In that scene where she sobs and begs him to let her know if she can trust him, and he answers yes, it was true. She could trust him, but it came at the cost of the pain from the lies he was telling. I actually liked that tension. I just wish that whole trust-secret thing had been handled in a more timely way.
 The more I think about it, one thing the drama got right with the secrets - no nasty birth secrets other than the swindle! Anyway, I digress. The last twenty minutes completely blew all of that good family stuff and tension away.


All the growth and trust and emotional development reset to the beginning of the drama (from what I can make sense of at least.) I get that Jin Sung made the choice he did. I get it. It was hard. It was nasty, but it was too sudden, it seemed to plot-devicey-let-me-throw-something-to-stop-Soo-from-going-to-Young than anything else.
 Yes, I get that Jin Sung "needed" to have consequences for messing with the bad guys when his hyung had warned him not to, but that whole set up just felt forced. It made me feel like the Jin Sung/Hee Sun characters were mainly empty plot devices - and any layering they had seemed nullified at that point. And I don't really get why President Kim wanted Oh Soo dead; His motivations seemed all screwy. He knew Oh Soo didn't have the money and had never swindled him, but still he wanted to
get rid of him. It seemed sort of petty that it was about a woman, but only the money was ever talked about. It was just a plot device that never fully rang true to me, and therefore felt forced in how they "resolved" it, which I don't really feel that it did resolve anyway. All of a sudden winning at gambling is going to save him from President Kim? And why did Jin Sung's family all of a sudden want to moved back to the countryside? Did I miss something? Plot device to have them vulnerable to President Kim's men? All that aside, Soo is left dying on the roof, Jin Sung is devastated, we're not sure if he saved his family, or if Soo is going to die, or anything really. Cut to the following spring.



Time jumps can work in a story, but only if they're done well. This one was not (though perhaps not as poorly as the Big time skip (or maybe it was) Why ever in the world didn't Soo go to Young? Was he lying in hospital himself? Did President Kim just want him stabbed and not dead? All of a sudden that big, nasty plot device went away? Was that a dream? Jin Sung still looks tortured even though it's now apparent he saved his family, but you would think we could have some sort of Soo/Jin Sung interaction, you know after he stabbed him with a knife! Now Soo's working in a coffee shop, or is that his restaurant now? And apparently it's okay that he's alive - President Kim forgave him - I guess. We don't know. And apparently the fiance is back in Young's life (I actually thought for a minute that she had married him) and not only running the company. And we can tell Young is happy, but seemingly still blind, but we know she survived surgery. Okay, back to the coffee shop. Young apparently knows it was Soo for a while. I'm not sure if she was waiting for him to make a move or something, and I also wonder why he never made a move. The saucy, suave Soo seems gone and in his place someone who is afraid she won't like his looks/like him? Remember when Young said she loved you Soo, as in the 사랑해 kind, and the you wept into her hair crying, "I love you, I love" over and over? It just felt wrong to me how they reconciled. It was like they were in kindergarten again. I am not even sure how I wanted their reunion because I felt like we were in another whole drama. And then the camera decided that we needed to pretend to be Young's eyes. (Seriously, that was distracting! I get a few minutes, but really, the whole last ten minutes?!) The whole dynamic and chemistry of the close, intense and passionate previous declarations of love turned totally silly in that last interchange. I felt robbed. I felt like I still needed another episode to process. If we weren't going to have tragic deaths all around (which I was sort of expecting - Othello style), then I at least wanted that final scene to have the pathos and language of all the other excellent Soo and Young scenes. It lacked umph for lack of a better word. Sweet, but a bit of a let down. (A beautiful colour palette and filter though).


I should probably end on a slightly more positive note than sounding like I was completely disappointed with the drama. I loved the initial episodes with the Oh Soo's moodiness and Young's hard shell getting slowly cracked by Soo. I absolutely adored Soo's styling when he was being her oppa. I know that not everyone loved his red pants, but I did - and when he wore them with that blue shirt with the band collar, I also loved his suspenders and the long coats he would wear - they completely suited
his lanky frame. His whole colour palette as far as style goes, I just adored it. I want to hug his stylist. I also love how Young was styled to accentuate her timeless beauty. She seemed to wear very little
make-up, but it just served to bring out her vulnerability and innocence without being too much. Song Hye Gyeo is one of the most beautiful women in the world, and the drama was certainly not afraid to show it. Okay, styling aside. I like the choice of filters, and how colour was accentuated and starkly contrasted with some of those soft filters. The whole colour palette of the drama matched the wintry tone of the drama, but without being completely overbearing. And the score was gorgeous as well, and I didn't find myself getting bored of the OST songs - they were quite beautiful. I absolutely loved the use of mirrors in the drama as well. There were so many scenes that were so well composed to show different perspectives and views - all using mirrors. Many of these scenes happened early on in the drama, but there were some later as well, but oh, they were so well used. It was a perfect to bring out those themes of sight and what it means to see. There were all sorts of perspectives and stories floating around, that the mirrors helped show us that the things Young perceived often came from a filtered source, a reflected medium. I think the drama would be worthwhile to watch again just to notice the use of mirrors. Whatever the faults of the drama, I am so glad to have seen such an excellent performance from Song Hye Gyeo, and I am delighted to have been introduced to one of the handsomest men in existence, Jo In Sung. I also really loved many of the scenes between Soo and Young. It was lovely to see two people so in tune with such great chemistry and charisma. As I went back to collect screenshots, I realized just how many scenes I had enjoyed with them. Perhaps this drama would be good to watch backwards? I definitely don't regret watching the drama, but oh - what it could have been!


 And to leave us all on more positive, here are some screencaps to enjoy. And if anyone needs more screencaps, I have about another 500 or so more that didn't make it to the post. Jo In Sung and Song Hye Gyeo are some seriously beautiful human beings.  (In no particular order).



32 comments:

  1. ok this is totally off topic, but i totally get why Hyun Bin would date SHG, she is totally gorgeous. too bad.


    should i be glad that i didn't even start in the first place?

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  2. ㅋㅋㅋ I think that man could make anything look good. I think I also really loved his suspenders. His stylist is so fabulous!

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  3. I know, right? She is mesmerizingly beautiful. You know, the more I think about it, the more I would actually be willing to watch the drama again, but maybe just forget that the ending is bad. It's like the ending belonged to another drama. So I dunno...it's not for everyone, but it's not all that bad.

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  4. Okay so in all honesty I never watched That Winter the Wind Blows, but I just wasn't in the right mood. However, I love your detailed analysis of what went wrong and why it did not fit with the show. Honestly, there's nothing I hate more than a rushed ending with a quick resolution. I would much prefer an ending that maybe doesn't have a huge conflict but does stay true to all the characters. (Unless it's Nice Guy but that's just because Nice Guy completely turned off my rational brain and got me at my heart. I loved it so much even though I know it's pretty flawed.) I also don't like miscommunications that last the whole show, so I think I might stay away from this show. Anyways, love the beautiful recaps! I almost just want to look at all of their moments together as a couple and just skip the talking.

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  5. Hahaha - I know what you mean by looking at the beautiful moments. I hope that when I get some time, I can actually make some fan art style pics like I used to do more, and then just have a nice photo gallery of great Soo and Young characters. Your comment also reminded me that I really need to finish Nice Guy. I have about five episodes left. So far I have avoided spoilers *keeps fingers crossed to keep it that way* (no worries, you totally didn't give away any spoilers^^).

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  6. Imo, without giving any spoilers, but if disliked that winter end you'll also dislike Nice Guy end...

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  7. Luckily I haven't seen any spoilers, but I have heard enough to know that I might have some problems with it. The writing though for Nice Guy (I am at episode 15) was better at least for those 15 than for the second half of TWTWB...I guess I had just better finish Nice Guy so I can see ^^

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  8. waiting your post on Nice guy then ^^~~ have a good weekend!

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  9. Now I had better finishing watching it then ^^ Have a great weekend as well!

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  10. Oh no... I haven't seen it yet, but I heard it was good. It's sad to hear that the ending wasn't so great. *sigh*

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  11. There really is a lot of great stuff in this drama. The OST was beautiful, the cinematography was gorgeous, and Song Hye Gyeo knocked it out of the park with her performance. I think it is worth a watch, but the ending just failed to bring the substance it started with.

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  12. " And why did Jin Sung's family all of a sudden want to moved back to the countryside? Did I miss something?" bcos Soo sold his car and gave the money to Jinsung's father? well Jinsung's father didn't really like Seoul so they decided to move... isn't it?

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  13. I don't think that was ever explained very well. I think that Jin Sung's father really wanted to own cattle, and was trying to earn money in the city, so he could have a farm, or something like that. But it happened really suddenly. I honestly think it was so they could have a way to have the whole family together so they could threaten Jin Sung to hurt Soo, but I am not sure. The ending of this drama was done so badly.

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  14. i totally agree with your review.. the ending really made the whole series meaningless.. and just to appease myself, I'm doing my own interpretation of the ending - I'm thinking they both die and met each other in heaven. LOL! Soo died first then Young after her chemo.. of course the scene where Secretary Wang and ex-fiance was in a blind-fold blew my interpretation but bringing flowers to Soo could mean bringing flowers to his grave. Anyway, it was such a shame because I spent sleepless nights watching this drama, but I still adore SHG and JIS =)

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  15. Hahahaha - I love your ending! (Particularly the part about the flowers) I think it would have been a good ending if even only Soo died, and Young had been left alive. But I also would have been totally okay if she had died. I think that whatever the ending was, they should have paced it a whole lot better. All the build-up of the drama was ruined in the rush to the end. *sigh*

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  16. Wonderfully written, and so insightful!! I particularly love your commentary on themes. Forgiveness, family, sight. So spot on!



    Sigh.. Oh what could have been. *wistful*

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  17. Thank you! <3


    I feel like "Oh what could have been" is something that we utter too often as drama watchers *sigh*

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  18. Too true!!! And now that I'm watching King of Drama, it's even more painful to imagine that maybe, just MAYBE, our writers had better things in mind, but could have been thwarted by scheming big-wigs and demands for PPL. And my inner fangirl is wailing, "But what about our STORYYYY???"

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  19. I think King of Dramas was excellent until the final two episodes, but even then they weren't terrible. When you're done, I believe I did write a post about it as well ^^ It is definitely a drama I want to watch again, and it really made me love Siwon even more. Of course, Anthony is just wonderful. I still sometimes think: "What would Anthony say about this?" when I am watching drama.

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  20. I'm only about a third of the way through, but definitely, let's trade thoughts after I'm done!! :D That's like half the fun of watching drama - trading drama thoughts with other drama lovers! <3

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  21. For sure! :D It's a great drama, and I hope you continue to like it. Kim Myung Min is really fantastic as Anthony!

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  22. How did Oh Soo live after he has died with that knife?

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  23. You know, that's a really good question, and one that the drama really didn't answer. I think if they had paced the story better, or just decided to kill him, it might have been better. But I really don't know. Maybe Jin Sung felt bad and took him to the hospital?

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  24. So, I got to the point where Soo gets stabbed by Jin Sung, pushed pause, and went searching on the internet for what happens. This was the third choice, the other two were videos. So I started reading, out loud and to myself. I LAUGHED! I LOVE that I'm not the only person that thinks this way during a drama. Some Dramas capture me all the way up until those last few pesky minutes. You're right, there was no resolution to anything. Did they or didn't they get hit by the truck? How did Moo Chul get lung cancer? WHY IS SECRETARY WANG NOT IN JAIL?!? So many things left unanswered. And if the whole idea of Jin Sung getting together with Potato (i'm assuming that was the guy's name) was to make sure he and Soo walked away from the game safely...WHY DID HE HAVE TO STAB HIM? It should have been brought to light WAY earlier that Oh Soo wasn't brother Oh Soo, and seeing as he kinda took over his life, would it not have made sense to tell his sister some stories about him? IDK...Although it was a wonderful drama...It just made me feel a little blah with the ending and some of the middle.

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  25. Haha, I am glad that you found this post. I think that the drama became a victim of it's own popularity really, or something. It got too "trendy" and it meant the writer had to make sure we got a "happy" ending or otherwise the masses were going to revolt. I just don't know. The first half of the drama was great! It was addictive and the storyline was progressing so well...and then it started to unravel. I also think that the writer underestimated Song Hye Gyeo, or the thought does occur to me, that with a live shoot system, it's possible that because the ending wasn't certain (or it was different than it ended up being) that she was playing the character in such a way that how the story unravelled just didn't make sense. And yes, Jin Sung stabbing him was just WTF?!?!?! Oh well. The drama was beautiful. But that ending was like eating something really nasty after a wonderful meal - it just ruined it.

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  26. It just finished airing here in the Philippines. I think the ending is unfinished or maybe I just been so caught up with this Drama. I am still watching it even if I watch it many times and I really cant forget some scenes in this Drama like the scene where Song Hye-Kyo measures Jo Insung and the baking scene. Anyway I love this Drama and somehow wants Jo Insung and Song Hye-Kyo to work again someday. I think they have good chemistry onscreen and they are so easy in the eyes because of their good looks.

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  27. They are most definitely easy on the eyes! And yes, they had really wonderful chemistry. There were so many memorable scenes for sure, and sometimes I wonder if I should make a series of posts just to talk about those memorable scenes so I can forget the terrible ending ^^~

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  28. yeah that would be great please do make a series of posts of those memorable scenes. I still cant get over of That Winter, The Wind Blows.

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  29. Okay, I might not get to them soon...but I will try ^^

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  30. Immediately after finishing the drama I googled for the ending because I didn't think it would end that way. I know it's sad but I think it would've been better if the ending was... tragic. Because it has already been tragic for the last couple of minutes!! especially when *SPOILER* Jin Sung was blackmailed and you know stabbed Soo. I was crying my eyes out thinking damn this is it this is the end but no, it was cut short and suddenly it hada good vibes. I felt catapulted into a parallel universe of some sort :)) That kind of transition didnt work out for me. I know it's supposed to be a happy ending but it was too happy. It was overall a good drama for me though, gave me so much awwwww moments hahah

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  31. Haha, I know, right?! I don't know why the writer was so afraid of a tragic ending. I wonder if it's because the drama became too popular or something. I think a tragic ending would have made it a much better drama. At least that ending scene was beautifully filmed ㅋㅋㅋ If they had wanted a happy ending, then they should have handled the last few episodes a lot differently.

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  32. Oh i just found my gang xD I was sobbing and uttering why Jin Sung (even though i have watched Love Me Not and thought the endings would be same) and I just stunned with the ending x( Like u guys, I want more episodes indeed. The ending several minutes are so confusing wheather Jin Sung's parents are dead or how does Soo come back ;( Anyway it's one of the best I guess.

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