Image: SingTel TV

Writer Kim Eun Sook is responsible for one of the most reviled endings in K-drama history and there were concerns, in the lead-up to the finale of her latest hit, Descendants Of The Sun, that she would fail fans again.

On Wednesday, she had to reassure them during a radio interview she would not make the same mistake again, “because I would not be able to live in Korea”.

However, as a public service, we are recounting some of the most upsetting, least satisfying K-drama endings. We watched them, so you never have to.


The finale of Kim’s earliest hit is bizarre and so totally wrong that you still feel robbed 12 years later.

After following the love story of a businessman and his one-time housekeeper for more than 19 episodes, the show drops them in the last 15 minutes and introduces another businessman and another housekeeper, a parallel pair of characters played by the same actors, Park Shin Yang and Kim Jung Eun.

The previous couple reappear as characters in a screenplay being written by the present housekeeper, who also reads about their fairy-tale romance in a newspaper.


When you are Googling this Korean series, the auto suggestions include “What Happened In Bali ending”.

So clearly, what happened in What Happened In Bali did not remain in Bali and South Korea.

Its Romeo And Juliet-like conclusion, where everyone in the love triangle dies, reverberated throughout East Asia.

Lovelorn rich boy Jae Min (played by Zo In Sung) hunts down his beloved Soo Jung (Ha Ji Won), whom he believes has eloped with In Wook (So Ji Sub), after the latter embezzled millions from his father’s company.

He guns down both of them. Before she dies, she says she has always loved only Jae Min, who then turns the gun on himself.

Up until the last five minutes of the drama, there was no indication that this paint-by-numbers melodrama about the forbidden love between a rich boy and a poor girl had any aspirations beyond satisfying housewives.

The tragic, literary pretension of the ending is totally undeserved.

3 IRIS (2009)

In 2009, Korean actor Lee Byung Hun was not only one of the top stars in his country, he was also on the cusp of a Hollywood career that would require him to show off his chiselled hunkiness in action thrillers such as G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra (2009) and RED 2 (2013).

So no one expected that, Hyun Jun, his secret service agent character in this drama, would be killed by a sniper right at the very end, just before proposing to his beloved Seung Hee (Kim Tae Hee).

Perhaps Lee asked for it – after all, he needed to go to Hollywood and might not have been able to squeeze Iris’ sequel/spin-off Athena: Goddess Of War into his filming schedule.


The thrilling romance between a two-faced guy and a strong-willed girl begins with a bang but ends with a whimper.

The couple break up on the understanding that they will get back together after he deals with his issues.

In the closing minutes of the finale, it is three years later and she has not heard from him. In the last minute, one of the e-mail she sent him is marked read – a sign that he may be back in her life soon.

5 REPLY 1988 (2016)

Team Jung Hwan – fans rooting for the cool guy played by Ryu Jun Yeol – are unhappy with the finale and it is understandable.

Although Jung Hwan is a main character, not only does he not get the girl, he also does not get a mention in the ending, unlike similar characters in the preceding Reply dramas (Reply 1997 in 2012 and Reply 1994 in 2013).

The shabby treatment of an important character in what is an otherwise sweet finale leaves a weird aftertaste.


A version of this story was originally published in The Straits Times on April 16, 2016. For more stories like this, head to

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