Final Thoughts: Since the last episode has already been so generously subbed in English by the ATK subbing team over at viki.com, I’ve decided to forego doing the full recap and simply opted for posting my final thoughts on the series.
All throughout the final episode, I was left with a sadness for what the drama could have been but ultimately failed to be. Whether it was due to the censorship warning the show received about halfway through the series or other issues that we may never know about, I found myself wishing that the writer (I’m going to assume it’s a she) had stayed her course and developed the story the way it was initially structured.
Interestingly enough, right around the time that my schedule precluded my recapping the episodes, I started hearing complaints from this community, lamenting how the two main leads were slowly being sapped of their verve and momentum in terms of their storyline. This is particularly telling in how the final episode played out; as some of you so sagely pointed out, the two leads (Joo Young and Woo Bin) barely had any face time at all, and instead, the bulk of the episode was spent on telling Ji Sun’s story and how the families were dealing with her imminent death.
The only time the purported leads actually shared the same space was in the last few minutes, as if to remind the viewers that these two characters were the designated main characters all along.
Um, yeah…too little, too late. This was total lip service despite the hopeful hint that these two could have that “happily ever after” ending now since all their obstacles had been removed.
The NGs at the end of the series, rather than leave me with a sense of contentment for the journey I was able to take with the characters, only served to underscore my dissatisfaction. The main characters were no longer allowed to be the focal point of the show and instead were delegated to side stories while the center of the storytelling now revolved around Ji Sun and the theme of forgiveness. All those funny, endearing moments from the earlier episodes…such a shame that this series wasn’t allowed to continue to the end in this vein. Do you all remember how excited we were with Woo Jin and Joo Mi’s courtship, made all the more sweet because of its awkwardness?
As much as I appreciate the exploration of the importance of forgiveness, especially at the end of one’s life, the heavy-handed treatment of the theme, hammered into the viewers’ consciousness over and over again in the last episodes, made me wish that such an important concept had been handled more delicately…and the fact that it came at the end of all this tormenting of a single woman for a sin she committed so long ago…ugh. The ironic thing is that the people who should have been asking for forgiveness for their rotten behaviors–Yoo Kyung and Woo Bin’s mother–never really realized that they were in the wrong nor were they held accountable for their actions. More than anything else, that fact alone grated on my nerves, especially when Woo Bin asked Yoo Kyung for forgiveness. Gah…I don’t understand how a writer bent on exploring the issue of forgiveness would have left those two characters alone…unless this was her way for thumbing her nose at the censors as if to say, “Fine! I’ll play by your rules, but I’m going to make sure then that the truly despicable characters in the show go unpunished.”
What I initially thought was going to be a family drama about two young couples who fall in love turned out to be one spectacular mess of a story, shifting its focus entirely from the young couples to the older generation as the older adults struggled to forgive.
I do commend the drama for trying to deal with the end of life issue so blatantly in the drama, advocating quality of life and maximizing the time left with the loved one, but the heavy-handed plot structuring marred what I normally would have appreciated, leaving me with a gnawing longing for its original story, whatever that may have been.
But as I mentioned before, the show’s focus really shifted to the first generation of adults as Ji Sun finally received the love and forgiveness she so desperately was seeking all throughout her life.
I did appreciate the fact that she died in the arms of her “ex-husband” who tried to make what remained of her life the happiest days of her life, bringing her difficult life to a peaceful end, one that is filled with love.
This scene in which Woo Bin goes to pay his respects to Ji Sun after his studies abroad in England does a nice job of symbolizing how Ji Sun was able to mend her bridges with so many families towards the end of her life: Joo Young’s family (flowers from Joo Young), the grandmothers (vase of paper cranes), the Chairman’s family (musical box), and Woo Bin’s family (Woo Bin’s flowers).
All in all, kudos to the entire cast and staff. I can’t imagine the struggles they must have faced to complete the 50 episodes…and without prematurely cutting the drama short when they received the warning. ATK will definitely hold a place in my heart, if for nothing else than that it was the first drama I really recapped on this new website and for allowing me to meet so many kdrama lovers from across the globe who share my love for ATK.
For those two factors alone, I thank you, A Thousand Kisses! It has, indeed, been quite the journey.