…And while I suppose anyone who cares has probably finished it themselves already, I figured I’d put my thoughts under the cut. Because I’ve been really emphatic all along that I wanted the Prince & Pak Ha to stay together and that Tae Yong is not an acceptable substitute just because he happens to look like the Prince, even giving away my basic reaction (happy, sad, angry, whatever) would be a spoiler. With that said…
j (I don’t blame anyone who doesn’t read this after seeing the wall of text; I don’t really have anyone to talk dramas with irl and all these feels needed to go somewhere.)
I won’t lie, I cried a lot during the last 2 episodes, as soon as the J4 boys started disappearing. The scenes where they went through a tunnel, or the elevator lights blinked and they were suddenly gone, were really disturbing to me. And Pak Ha & the Prince looking at each other, realizing he’s up next and could disappear at any moment— I actually kind of felt like throwing up, to be frank. So after all that, he does disappear at the climax of their little “just for us” rooftop wedding and yeah, I cried some more. I figured him giving her the jade pendant earlier would come up later in the form of another item hidden in the same spot on the palace grounds, and so we had the Prince writing her a letter. I kept thinking about how she would feel, knowing he’d be centuries dead by the time she read it, even though she had just seen him.
And to have my suspicions confirmed, that it was not in fact the Crown Princess who died in the first episode but her younger sister Bu Yong (of whom Pak Ha is the modern-day reincarnation). Seeing her silently sacrifice herself by eating all the poisoned dried persimmons, in order to spare her beloved Prince’s life without getting her family executed for aiding in the plot, was so hard to watch.
I was really, really ready to be totally crushed by this ending, but then something happened. The reawakened Tae Yong walks into Pak Ha’s shop and she waits on him, so heartbroken that she’s not even looking up at customers. He smiles and walks off, but not without dropping off a sketch on a postcard with a note to meet him. At first I thought, oh, he just remembers her from New York and figures he’ll try again. So she sees the postcard, realizes Tae Yong had been there, and meets him in the park. Based on the first few things they say to one another— not spoken casually but instead as though to someone dear you’ve not seen in a long time:
PH: Why are you so late?
TY: I have been waiting for a long time.
PH: Where were you?
TY: I have always… been here.
…and as they face each other, the scene transforms— Pak Ha is the same but Tae Yong has become the Prince in his Joseon-era clothing. This gives me the impression that Tae Yong woke up with the Prince’s memories (otherwise that conversation doesn’t make much sense— why would TY say such cryptic things to someone he’s just met). This interpretation is acceptable to me— I’m of the belief that throwing Pak Ha together with a clueless Tae Yong just because he looks like the Prince would be the same as pairing her up with a random stranger; however, if Tae Yong awakened with the Prince’s memories (his own past life) then he is in fact the Prince, imo. I don’t know if he’s “all Prince,” or just somehow incorporated the two incarnations together, or if he’s always retained his past-life memories (actually that’s sort of an entertaining sci-fi-ish possibility, that TY remembered/foresaw what was going to happen all along and was helpless to stop the whole course of events but that’s probably too convoluted to be the writers’ intentions) but I’m choosing to believe that he’s the Prince and I got my happy ending, even if they made me bawl like a baby for the episodes preceding it.
Man, for someone who doesn’t believe in reincarnation I’ve thought way too much about this.