Life as a supporting character isn’t all that bad… and sometimes if you pay attention, the supporting characters have the best stories of all. We all get to choose whether or not to be the supporting characters in our own story, or if we aspire to be more. And that’s really what She Was Pretty has been about all along — learning to play the leading role in your personal life story, and living your life in your own spotlight.
EPISODE 16 RECAP
A young Hye-jin gives a presentation in school, all about her dreams of being a writer of children’s stories. Adult Hye-jin says in voiceover that people ask you your dreams when you’re young, but as you age, fewer people ask. Holding onto your dream until you become an adult isn’t easy.
But before she forgot her dream entirely, she was given a wonderful opportunity — to join a group of writers on a year-long project. She’d left her job and pursued her dream, though it meant leaving her best friend Ha-ri and her fiance, Sung-joon, behind for a while.
The writers are very accepting of her, and love her fresh ideas. She keeps in frequent touch with Sung-joon as he wraps up his business in the States, and they even eat “together” through video calls. They miss each other terribly, but their love stays strong through their separation.
Slowly, as it stops being necessary to maintain a professional image, Hye-jin stops covering her bright complexion with makeup and her vicious curls grow back in. She gets a call that someone has arrived in town, and rushes on her bike to meet them. Aww, I was hoping it was Sung-joon, but it’s Ha-ri, taking a break from school to see her friend.
Ha-ri notices how happy and at peace Hye-jin is here, though Hye-jin gives Most all the credit. Without having worked at Most, she wouldn’t have met her mentor and gotten this offer.
A pickled radish makes Hye-jin smile sadly — for some reason, she thinks of Shin-hyuk and their final goodbye, when he’d hugged her and whispered in her ear. He’d asked her to think of him… not all the time, since Sung-joon would get jealous, but whenever she sees a pickled radish. Hee, that’s so Shin-hyuk.
After seeing Ha-ri off, Hye-jin tries to call Sung-joon but his phone is turned off. She tries to video chat him that night, but he’s still not answering, which isn’t like him. She tries texting him, worried that the little cold he mentioned earlier is more serious than he let on.
In the morning she’s still gotten no reply, and by now she’s worried sick. She spends the day distracted, calling Sung-joon’s phone repeatedly, but it stays turned off. She’s sent to pick up the illustrations for their book, and on the way her over-active imagination kicks in. She imagines Sung-joon with a terrible fever, passed out and alone, or stuck in his car in the pouring rain with a panic attack.
She tries calling Sung-joon one more time, and finally he answers. Hye-jin peppers him with questions, but he just says that her pink sweater is pretty today. Wait, what? And then he’s there in front of her, and Hye-jin runs through the rain to hug him, not caring that she’s getting soaking wet. She literally climbs him like a tree, as he grins happily.
They find shelter in a cafe, and Sung-joon says that he felt like he was dying from missing her, so he decided to surprise her with a visit. Even better, he’s gotten all of his business settled and is back for good. He jokes that he just couldn’t be cool enough to wait a whole year, so he’ll wait here for her to finish her project.
When she asks about his job, he says with shifty eyes that she’ll have to support him. Why do I think he’s pulling her leg? Freaking out, Hye-jin does some quick calculations, but Sung-joon was pulling her leg, and he says that he already has a place to stay and a job lined up while he looks for a permanent home.
Awww, he’s the new Chief Editor of Most! The team are thrilled to have him back, and further shocked to hear that former Chief Editor Kim is getting married. HAHAHAgasp, she’s found herself a hot young Italian model — that’s awesome, especially when he calls her “noona” in his Italian accent.
Seul and Joon-woo are still dating, and they go out for a little coffee and PPL. At mention of Sung-joon, Seul pouts that she’s jealous, clearly angling for a proposal of her own. Joon-woo is endearingly dim as usual, but he cheerfully agrees that of course they’re getting married. Within the year, in fact. It’s cute that suddenly it’s Seul who wants to keep things small (and inexpensive).
Back at school, Ha-ri has been kept busy fending off a younger man, but he continues to contact her and bring her coffee while she’s studying. Aww, he’s adorable.
Hye-jin prepares to go home to see her family for the night, and tells her mentor that it’s a very important day — today is the day she keeps a promise to herself. When she gets home she hears that Dad went to the bathhouse, and gapes when he’s followed in by Sung-joon. HAHA, this is where he’s staying?! Sung-joon is all wide-eyed innocence as Hye-jin’s whole family defends him from her fury for keeping this secret, and he jokes that he had to stay here, because he always obeys his elders.
During dinner Hye-jin gives her father a bank book, saying that it’s money she saved to buy him a new printing machine. Her parents tell her to keep it for her marriage, but Sung-joon sweetly says that she doesn’t need to bring anything to their marriage but herself. Hye-jin persists until her father reluctantly accepts the money.
Sung-joon watches Hye-jin do the dishes adoringly, and pats her hair and tells her she’s pretty. He kisses her forehead, and the both dissolve in giggles at the idea of kissing in her parents’ house. When Sung-joon waggles his eyebrows and talks about feeling “that newlywed feeling,” Hye-jin hip-bumps him clear into the next room. So cute.
Hye-jin sleeps on Hye-rin’s floor while Sung-joon takes her room, but she scoots over to slide the door open between the rooms — to see Sung-joon on the floor right in front of her. They get all giggly again and hold hands through the doorway, and go to sleep like that.
Sung-joon drives Hye-jin back home the next day, and she finds that her parents slipped a different bank book into her purse with a note. It says that they couldn’t help her pay for college, so they’ve been saving for her marriage for ten years.
Awww, they had the money for a new printing machine all along, but her marriage was more important to them. Hye-jin bursts into tears, and Sung-joon says how happy he is to be joining her wonderful family.
Sung-joon hasn’t changed much, and walks into Most reading his tablet and tossing out a distracted “good morning.” He goes into his old office out of habit, where Reporter Cha — now Deputy Editor Cha — has to kick him out of what’s now her office.
The bright-eyed new intern asks if Ten was really a part of their team, and Joon-woo assures her it was true. They all miss Shin-hyuk, and wonder where he is now.
We catch up with him, busily working on a new novel in a hostel somewhere in Europe. He still wears the knitted beanie he conned Hye-jin into buying for him. A fellow traveler recognizes him as Ten, but Shin-hyuk pretends he’s not, and tosses his rubber spider to the guy just to see his reaction. Never change, Shin-hyuk… never change.
Hye-jin is called “Writer Kim” for the first time, and decides she likes the sound of that. Their book is published and we see the title: “The Story of a Peeping Girl.” It’s a throwback to her first meeting with Sung-joon as children, where she’d seen the peeping girl in the puzzle he was working on, and now she nearly cries to see her name listed as one of the authors.
Sung-joon really hasn’t changed, and terrorizes his team during their meeting. They all snarl behind his back, but then he passes out wedding invitations, and everyone gasps in surprise. But if it’s shocking that he’s getting married, it renders them speechless to see that the bride is their own Hye-jin.
Ha-ri invites Hye-jin out for dinner on the eve of the wedding, and jokes that someone might get mad if she keeps calling Hye-jin “wifey.” Ha-ri has her own news — she got a job at a nearby hotel, all on her own merits. After dinner, Ha-ri presents Hye-jin with a garland and bouquet of flowers that she made herself, and they take pictures together.
And then it’s Sung-joon and Hye-jin’s wedding day, and they both look nervous and happy. They walk forward into their future together with love and confidence.
Some time later, we see Hye-jin hard at work in a little mini-library, surrounded by notes and books. She’s still working for the writers’ group, and Sung-joon comes in looking for a little attention. She’s too deep in concentration to do more than throw him a tiny kiss, and he complains that she’s not his “kissing maniac” anymore.
He slowly leaves the room whining loudly about how loooonely he is, and finally Hye-jin grins and closes her laptop. Sung-joon gets a mischievous glint in his eye, and drags her out of the room for some marital shenanigans.
Shin-hyuk’s newest book is published, which Hye-jin reads, and sees that it’s dedicated to “My best friend, Jackson.” She recalls him saying that he thinks they’re really good friends, and she cries happy tears thinking of their friendship.
Sung-joon and Hye-jin hurriedly pack a picnic lunch, and rush out the door. He makes her laugh at his horrible singing in the car, as in voice-over she repeats her original thought that some people are meant to live life as supporting characters.
But now she thinks that maybe it was herself who decided she was a supporting character, and that she gave up too easily and let life dictate her path. People say that life is not a fairy tale, but what’s wrong with dreaming of a life that is like a fairy tale?
Hye-jin and Sung-joon sit on a gorgeous hillside for their picnic, where he continues teasing her, this time about her cooking. Hye-jin continues that, if you don’t turn off your own spotlight, and don’t give up on your dream, then something that’s very like a fairy tale could happen. Such as finding a first love, and fulfilling a childhood dream.
The two lovers walk through the trees, and stop to kiss and cuddle while Hye-jin reads her latest children’s book out loud.
A few years later, a little girl skips through the rain in bright yellow galoshes, followed by her father carrying a very familiar-looking red umbrella. The two stop at a red light, and when the light turns green, the little girl crows happily, “It’s a go!” She has her mother’s ruddy cheeks and viciously curly hair, and it’s obvious that in her daddy Sung-joon’s eyes, she’s the prettiest little girl in the world.
While I still think that Episode 15 could have been a nice open-ended finale, this actual finale episode was full of the cute and sweet closure I was hoping we’d get. There was some concern among viewers of twist endings or even tragic loss, but I’m happy that none of those things happened — instead we got to see all of our characters find their own little happy endings.
It’s strange because usually I feel a bit of a let-down when a show wraps things up a bit too neatly, but in this case I’m happy to see everyone get the ending they deserve. I try to avoid reading any articles or information about a show while I’m recapping it, so as to keep my perspective free from outside influence, but in this case I couldn’t help but hear some of the theories and become worried. So just this once, I’m giving the show a pass for giving us the slightly saccharine ending, because at least nobody died, am I right?
There were quite a few loose ends in this show that never were addressed again, though now I think that possibly, as a viewer, I was just giving the show more gravitas than it intended. Things like Sung-joon’s hinted-at eating disorder – which I suppose, in the end, wasn’t an eating disorder but just an extension of his tendency to forget to take care of himself when he’s focused. I mean, the guy drinks out of vases and walks into doors when he’s distracted, so it’s not hard to think that he’s just too preoccupied to go shopping. It’s a bit disappointing because I think the show could have been… more. But in the end, it was what it promised to be, and it delivered a sweet and lovely story about a pair of old friends how found each other again and found love. I can wish that the story had been deeper, and explored darker themes, but I can’t complain that we didn’t get exactly what we were promised.
I do admit that I’m happy that Hye-jin went back to her original look, because one of the best things about She Was Pretty was the message that pretty isn’t just on the outside, it’s also on the inside. Hye-jin didn’t need her childhood beauty or a fancy makeover to attract not one, but two good men to fall in love with her. Her inner beauty, her positive spirit and generous and loving nature, were what made her pretty to the people who could see beyond her (really, not that bad) looks to the woman inside who was completely deserving of love and adoration. And one of my favorite things about Sung-joon was that not once, not one time in the run of the show, did he make mention of her looks. Not when she got her makeover, and not when she went back to her curly hair and freckles. All he ever said was that she was pretty, which is the thing that proved to me that he was the right man for her. In his eyes, she was pretty, because he was never looking at her external looks, he was always seeing the beautiful person on the inside.
There’s not a lot to discuss plot-wise that hasn’t already been said, but I’m leaving She Was pretty feeling satisfied, and with a happy and contented afterglow. Sung-joon and Hye-jin’s love story was lovely to watch and fun to discuss, and I’ll remember them — and that adorable little moppet their love created — with a lot of fondness.