Pondering I’m Sorry, I Love You’s ending

 

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No, this pic is not from the final episode of I’m Sorry, I Love You, but I just could not resist.

So Ji Sub‘s last drama before he was called for military service, I’m Sorry, I Love You (KBS2, 2004) was the drama that made me a loony fan, loony enough to start an international fan forum, Jisub Addicts.  I posted many thoughts while watching the drama, including episode recaps.  Here are my ponderings on the drama’s ending.

[Note: Pics are random; a couple are from the final episode. ]

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First musings on the ending

I was really afraid to watch this episode because I was afraid I would be a weepy wreck the way I was after finishing Damo. But perhaps because MiSa was so sad from the early episodes and I had already cried my fill, this last episode was not too bad. I didn’t collapse in a heap although in the last few minutes of the drama I had to control myself and not break out in heaving sobs. Yes, the last part was the most heartbreaking for me, but I’ll come back to that later. 

I’ve read comments that this episode felt rushed. I didn’t think it was. I felt there was closure and this was done at a pace that was consistent with the entire drama. The first important closure was resolving the strained relationship between the two brothers, Moo-hyuk and Yoon. What a beautiful scene as they sat and talked in the darkness of Galchi’s bedroom. I love how Yoon took the initiative to come to the house and how Moo-hyuk so thoughtfully emptied the soju bottles of soju and filled them with water. That very simple act alone spoke volumes of the fact that he really did not hate this brother who owned all of his oma’s love. 

The brothers’ conversation that night was so important because it revealed the truth about Yoon and their oma. And that truth, although it stunned Moo-hyuk, also set him free. He thought his mother had abandoned him. Now he knew it was not the case. 

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I’ve read so much (too much perhaps) about the heart-wrenching ramen-eating scene so when I finally came to it I was fully prepared to cry a heap. And yes I did cry because Moo-hyuk’s pain was so acute it just broke my heart. But I had really mixed feelings about this scene too. Yes, she cooked the ramen for him and it was the first time he ate anything she cooked. But she also did it most grudgingly and that fact was really painful. It was like crumbs under the table, figuratively speaking, and he wept out of gratitude for those crumbs. Even as she cooked for him, her heart was in the hospital with Yoon. And as Moo-hyuk cried, I just cried with him for the unfairness of it all, for the life of dregs that he had lived. In the end he never did receive what he had longed for all his life – the love of his oma. 

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More heart-wrenching than the ramen scene for me was the scene in the hospital when the oma fainted and Moo-hyuk hugged her. The first and last time he hugged his oma and called out to her and she was not conscious. That scene was so, so painful to watch. And afterwards when Eun-chae’s father revealed the truth surrounding Moo-hyuk’s abandonment and the latter shouted at him with such anguish, that too was sooo sad. One man’s cowardice leading to such misery for Moo-hyuk and his sister!! 

The scene in the subway where Eun-chae cried out repeatedly to Moo-hyuk, “Sarang-haeyo!” (I love you!”) is surely one of the most unforgettable scenes in kdrama for me. And as he stood there looking at her and not saying a word, his eyes filling with tears and the lump in his throat moving so agitatedly, I wanted to cry and scream along with Eun-chae, “Hold her! Hug her!” And afterwards when he handed her over to her dad and said it would be the last time he would appear before Eun-chae, my broken heart broke again at those words. Words of such finality! And indeed that was the last time they saw each other. 

Much later when he called her on the phone and his first word was a very soft and very gentle and very loving “Rockhead…” and when he whispered, “Sorry… I love you…” and later when he was riding the motor-bike and remembering his Rockhead… and the blood started flowing from his nose… and his eyes began to close from the sheer pain… Words cannot describe how I felt watching all those scenes. 

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Eun-chae going to Australia one year later and revisiting and remembering all the places where she had gone with her Ajussi – that stranger with the mop hairdo who had saved her repeatedly… It was totally heartbreaking to see her tears, to see her pain, to revisit Episode 1 with her where we see a healthy Moo-hyuk, a living Moo-hyuk… a Moo-hyuk who was now gone… 

What Eun-chae did at the end was totally understandable. Her family and society would not condone it… and neither would Moo-hyuk himself… She knew it was wrong… but he was lonely and she wanted to go to him. It was the only thing she could do. 

 

Follow-up ponderings

I felt Ji-young’s sudden reappearance was significant although it filled me with much uneasiness at first.  It was as if things had come full circle for here was the woman Moo-hyuk had called “wife” – the one he had loved so much and for whom he was willing to risk his life.  For 14 episodes we had been immersed in Moo-hyuk’s life in Korea, but Ji-young’s reappearance reminded us again that the bulk of Moo-hyuk’s life (25 years) had been spent in this foreign land called Australia.

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I thought it was really touching when Moo-hyuk gently wiped the tears from Ji-young’s face.  MiSa is full of such small fleeting moments which are not verbalized yet reach out to grab your heart.  This was the tender Moo-hyuk we had come to love.  Yet minutes later, how cruel was he when he came down the steps with Ji-young, saw Eun-chae, and reacted to her as if she was a most unwelcome sight.  “Go home.”  But even if he could send Eun-chae physically away, he could never send her away from his heart.  As he laid on Ji-young’s lap in the hotel room listening to her sing an old familiar song, he thought of Eun-chae singing the same song and suddenly his tired weary eyes jerked open and he ran and ran and ran to get back to where he had left his Rockhead on the steps.

Was it seven years that he had loved Ji-young?  All that didn’t matter now.  It was nothing compared to the past few weeks and months that he had loved Eun-chae.  He loved this Rockhead so much.  He never thought he would fall in love again, but she came into his life like a gentle breeze, and he felt a happiness he had never experienced before, and the deepest, deepest sadness.  It made him so indescribably angry to know he was going to die.  He was going to die and leave this girl.  Oh God, how can I bear to leave this girl!

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“I have things to say… and things to listen to…” 

Moo-hyuk, listen.  Eun-chae wants to be by your side.  She wants to be with you in your final days, to hold you, to love you.  She needs you and you need her.  Don’t break her heart before you go.  You’ve not given her anything tangible to hold on to.  You erased the pictures she took of you.  Even that one flower you bought for her was never given to her.  Don’t leave her, don’t leave her, Cha Moo-hyuk!

“Wherever you go I will follow.”

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I love the collage of freezed frames at the end of the drama.  The Moo-hyuk that we know and the Moo-hyuk that we didn’t…  Seeing all the pics of him just made me cry so hard.  Abandoned not once but twice… Almost dying yet revived to pursue a hope that turned into such hurt and despair… Jilted yet discovering a new love with so little time left to love…

“We will meet again in the next life.  And when I see you again, I will hold you tight and not let you go.”

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24 thoughts on “Pondering I’m Sorry, I Love You’s ending

  1. ..ukh..thank you so much for your review..
    Oh..ya..in last scane..i felt little glad..because un che want to follow her ajushii..not only because she cant living life without him..but also she want to be beside him..give him happily,hug..and she never want to let her ajushii always in alone..she was in regret coz she when ajushi was life,when she didn’t know the fact,she was hurt him..and eun chae heart is very white but week.she can’t happy in his misery.and eun chae found a man who have a lot misery in his life,so of course she’ll never let him alone. She life in world who everyone love her..she’ll felt hurt when she found a man like mooh hyuk..

    That’s my opinion..huk i cry..sorry my english sooo baaadd..
    Sumimasen nee and thanks a lot!

  2. Um..for waiting one year for follow him,i think coz she his sister and nephew..like his promise to mooh hyuk..and when his mum want to take care her truely daughter(eventhough she never know the fact)..
    Un chae not have anything else to do in her life..she cant easy living life with happy and peace like yoon and his mom, beside misery of mooh hyuk..huh..very nice girl,eventhough she know thats wrong to do..

  3. Um..for waiting one year for follow him,i think coz she his sister and nephew..like his promise to mooh hyuk..and when his mum want to take care her truely daughter(eventhough she never know the fact)..
    Un chae not have anything else purpose to do in her life..her heart soft.she cant easy living life with happy and peace like everyone who love she aroud her, beside misery of mooh hyuk..she want to give happily to him,can’t let him alone…
    very nice girl,eventhough she know that wrong to do..huf..if un chae don’t follow him..ukh..i cant found a word to explain..very hurt let him alone.

  4. wow… this drama was so beautifully done. i never teared so much from a drama before. i just finished watching it an hour ago and reading your recap brought about those emotions again. wonder if there are any other dramas as moving as misa was. heard east of eden was really good but the ending bombed. as far as movies, if you havnt seen it yet, you should watch ‘a moment to remember’

  5. هاي هدا اروع ممسلسل شاهدته الى الان رغم المده الطويلة التي مرة على عرضه الى اني الازلت ادكر كل لقطاته لدالك احببت ان اكتب اليكم اليوم

  6. I am usually allergic to weepies, not understanding why one would watch such tragedy for x number of hours (Winter Sonata was the exception but I won’t get into that)… till I’m Sorry I Love You. I was flipping channels one night and it was airing on KBS. Since there wasn’t anything else on, I stayed on and the half hour remaining of that episode got me hooked. I started looking for the eps online and have actually seen it twice. I still won’t say I’m particularly drawn to the story, although this was a very decent one (heck I even cried buckets!)… but So Ji Sub certainly caught my attention and I’ve been a fan since. Well, enough to google him and catch Rough Cut. Next up is Cain and Abel… which I’ve heard is slightly weepy but I might just endure it for Ji Sub! :p

  7. backlogging the review….MISA is one drama I just cannot get into …due to overwhelming praises review and word of mouth at its peak …. I even get myself a director’s cut dvd some years ago and let’s say it is one of my dissapointing purchase as I will not be lovingly watching it once in a while…
    everything feels unreal to me…I really really want to like it but didn’t feel connected to the story and the character thus cannot sympathize with anyone here…. my lesson from MISA is never to trust reviews but checked one or two episodes first before buying any DVD….

    • Unreal? It is after all a “drama” = fiction. The acting here was top-notched, with great chemistry between So Ji-sub and Im Soo-Jeong. Great acting, good writing and pacing = for me spells “heart-wrenching story.”

  8. MISA was one of my earliest k-dramas. Before I knew there was Soompi, reviews, cancer-will-kill-the-hero type plots… And so, when MH died, I was in shock (cos there’s such thing as hope, ya know) and cried loads. But the saddest than sad (if possible) part was when EC revisited all the places in Australia that she’d been with MH. I think my heart broke.

    … dang it…. this review made me tear all over again…. I loved MH and EC….

  9. that forum was your website !??? damn ! …. i registered on that forum before even knowing about this website. I even forgot the password :D

  10. MiSa, MiSa, MiSa…What the hell was I thinking pulling out my I’m Sorry I Love You dvd set (that I paid way too much money for years ago, but it was worth it!) and trying to rewatch thinking I could be brave and make it through the entire thing. So far I’m at episode 13 and I’ve cried so much I really need aspirin for my splitting headache. I watched for like 10 straight hours yesterday and was awake until 5am doing so. Oh, MiSa, still so good but still so painful all these years later. I’ve only been able to watch those last few episodes once and I think I am going to fail at watching them again this time. My heart/eyes/head/throat/every other part of my body just cannot take it!

    So Ji Sub will ALWAYS be loved by me because of his role as Moo-hyuk and Moo-hyuk and Eun-chae will probably always be my favorite OTP. ♥

  11. Oh writers, you are so cruel….. Moo Hyuk has to be one of the most unluckiest heroes i’ve ever watch! Dear Show, Why His cemery has to be in Australia? When he was alive, U make him the most loneliness person in a drama, and He died, he buried in Sidney when no one will ever visit his graves except Eun Chae??? And u made Eun Chae died, the only character that still yearning him, everyone else has move on and doesn’t even care about Moo Hyuk anymore?? so who else that would pray for him ???? I really hate all character except the main couple…. All Of them are the one who deserved All the punishment! Show… u make me couldn’t breathe watching the final episode…. I’m emotionally exhausted! :(

    • I agree! Even though the mother was not responsible for the abandonment, I was not happy that she was off the hook! I wanted her to know that MH was her son! I felt cheated like you that everyone was happy (except, I was glad that his sister and nephew were being cared for, the only saving grace). I watched this in 3 days. I thought Bad Love was sad and depressing, I’m still trying to count the fleeting happy moments in this drama; however, I feel this was one of the best dramas when it comes to the acting! The actress playing the mother, I loved her in Can You Hear My Heart? but this, this over-shadowed her tremendous acting! I now want to see her earlier work as I am duly impressed. This is definitely not a drama for the faint at heart!! But I love the unconventional dramas the most!! So Ji Sup, I am now a fan for life!

  12. i can’t believe i just discovered misa and SJS so late…
    i just watched the last 7 episodes of misa in 2 days… i cried buckets while watching and still i’m a little angry and hurting so much… there’s no words to explain how i fell… you said it in a better way… so i cried a lot more while reading this
    when i think of the injustice towards my poor ajushi… how he suffered, how he can’t be happy, how everybody treated him… i really think it was a good ending but so unfair…
    i never felt this pain before, first time i hated so much… i hated eun chae’s father, yoon, yoon’s mother… sometimes even eun chae… sometimes i wanted them to die, sometimes to live and regret… but at the end everyone lived and didn’t regret… only eun chae
    i can’t write anymore…

  13. MISA, for me, was one of the best that I’ve seen and will always have that special place in my heart…whenever I feel like crying I always re watch this drama… to be able to see a love so sad and pure is such a wonderful experience…I’m so satisfied with the way things end… Yes, for the others. you might say that everybody has been let off easily and it seemed unfair BUT that is what I truly believed, MH would have wanted, for everybody not to be burdened by his death and just lived on…. I think even EC knew this and tried so hard to live with his memories…But she is not emotionally stable (as shown in the latter episodes.)..her sadness is too much for her to bear and she couldn’t bear to think her ahjusshi, too, was all alone… I don’t condone what she did but I can very well understood why she did it….

    Thundie, thank you for this wonderful post about MISA…you definitely nailed everything…

    • I agree that this drama has a good ending … what good would it have done to have the mother know the truth? It would have left her feeling guilty and angry for the rest of her life … guilty for the way she treated MH although unknowingly … angry with Eun-cha’s father for what he did. Instead of wasting about 10 minutes with repeating some scenes, I would like to have a scene in which Yune makes the suggestion to the Mom that she legally adopt the Sister and Nephew, thereby having her in the end taking care of her own daughter and grandson, again … unknowingly. I also agree with the “Why?” of MK being buried back in Australia when his heart is in Korea (in Yune’s body) … and, why Eun-chae waited a year before going to visit his grave. These two things made the ending less than satisfactory for me = a bit unreal, not logical flow of life.

  14. I just want top point out how strong and defiant to god Rockhead was at the end. Catholics are taught that suicide is a great sin and will be punished in Hell.
    Wonderful recap, your writing sent your emotions over the web and accross the years strongly.
    InSu — 2012.09.23 NY, NY

  15. I watched this kdrama over the weekend (twice in 48 hrs, that’s 32 episodes total – pretty much no sleep, barely contact with the outside world) and loved it. I think I even love it more because I know Moo-hyuk (Si-jub) from Master’s Sun and Yoon from Heartless City, and adored them in those kdramas. So watching it backwards, as it were, was thrilling because their acting is so powerful no matter what roles they play. I feel like I was thrown back in time, but not too far back, to a story that I could relate to – an establishment (Yoon) versus ant-establishment (Moo-hyuk) dichotomy of brothers and their relationships to each other and everyone around them. It gave me the same feeling as watching Dirty Dancing or Legend of the Fall, maybe even Bonnie and Clyde – these stories draw me in with their passionate but almost impossibly complicated relationships, well-told stories and acting that is over the top and is captivating. This kdrama closed me off to the real world – at least for a time – a perfect escape.

    Your recap and comments, thundie, are relevant 5 years later to this reader. I will ponder I’m Sorry, I love you, and perhaps write and unread essay on it,. Working on some kdrama fan art that I will post on my blog soon. I’m kind of a wet rag today, drained from the last 3 days, scenes popping in my head of love so deep yet so tragic…I

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