Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The End: My Take on the Last Scene of Queen In-hyun's Man

Okay. So it turns out that a lot of people aren’t that happy with the deus ex machina used in the Queen In-hyun’s Man finale. After the jump, I dwell briefly on why I couldn’t love it more. Spoilers ahoy!

(Note: This is a rare two-post week; do scroll down if you’d rather read a general review of Queen In-hyun’s Man.)

I really do love this ending, but I’m willing to overlook a lot because it so totally delivered the goods on a character development front. It allowed Hee Jin to do just what I wanted all along—she saved Boong Do, both because she actually remembered his phone number (did I mention it took me three years to learn my own cell number?) and because she believed in herself enough to try dialing it. In the past, we’ve seen her look to others for confirmation of her memories and be easily convinced that she was imagining things. Now, though, she’s willing to stand on her own two feet and follow her heart and mind. 

She may have Boong Do’s number, but it’s clear that this drama has my number.

And for people with narrative concerns, from the very beginning the talisman itself told us exactly what could happen. Per (the ever brilliant) Dramabeans recap of episode 2, the talisman reads: Time, road, communication, call, space, need, rescue, man. Clearly, I have zero idea about what kind of grammatical rules apply here. But it seems to me that the ending is a perfect fit for this wording: a phone call allowed communication through space and time driven by Hee Jin’s need and provided a road to rescue her man.

In some ways, it seems that the word need is the lynchpin here. It can be read as part of a phrase: “need rescue.” But maybe it could also stand on its own, referring not to Boong Do but the talisman’s creator—gisaeng Yoon Wol. This would explain why the talisman stopped working when she died, and could also account for the magical call in the finale. Hee Jin was in a possession of the talisman for a fair amount of time, after all, so perhaps its allegiance switched to her. It could have been Hee Jin’s need for Boong Do that motivated the talisman after Yoon Wol’s death.

And the talisman may have been burned, but who knows what that actually means: burning might have just changed its magical properties. Because I’m a huge loser I did some Googling about this, and came up with a tiny scrap of information about burning talismans on a website about Feng Shui. It reads:

"To create a talisman, an ancient script was drawn on yellow paper with red ink.... The paper talisman was then burned, releasing wishes and prayers."

So maybe burning the talisman actually made it take full effect, and the next time Boong Do was about to die—aka, when he was making me cry by hanging by himself with that damn tie—it stepped in and whisked him away. (After thoughtfully allowing him to gather his modern clothes, which he had apparently been lugging around for a year without understanding what they were or where they came from…but whatever.)

When this drama will cease eating my brain, on the other hand, remains to be seen.


  1. Love what you write about Hee Jin and her character development. I think this show will stay with everyone who's watched it, whether they love the ending or not, for a loooong time.

    1. And your posts about this show were so wonderful they literally blew my mind ;) I only wish that damn phone booth had been yellow with red type...then the arguable use of the phone as a talisman would have had some visual grounding.

  2. i think after he burnt the talisman, BD didn't lose his memory.

    1. Hmm...interesting. I was thinking that they both lost their memories until they walked "through" each other at the palace. I'll have to keep an eye out for this theory when I rewatch the drama, which is pretty much inevitable at this point ;)