Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Esther Lee
Jeongjo (Junho) wept as Deok Im (Lee Se Young) passed into the embrace of death, leaving him her last wish to treat her like a stranger if they were to meet again in their next life. The recently ended MBC’s historical romance drama The Red Sleeve left a lasting impression on its viewers. Although it is heartbreaking to watch the characters face their unavoidable fate, it is strangely captivating to reflect back on the emotions that were well portrayed throughout the drama. On that note, here are some of the best Korean dramas with sad endings that will make you cry just like The Red Sleeve.
tvN Hotel Del Luna (2019)
Hotel Del Luna is a fantasy drama about an elite hotelier Goo Chan Sung (Yeo Jin Goo), who was invited to manage a hotel. There, he meets the establishment’s ancient owner named Jang Man Wol (IU), who is as beautiful and mysterious as the moon. The drama was much loved for its intriguing setting – a hotel for dead souls – and its touching episodes filled with romance. The final episode where Jang Man Wol bids a sad yet beautiful farewell to the hotel workers and Gu Chan Sung left viewers in tears. The drama ends with Jang Man Wol and Gu Chan Sung reuniting in some life far down the road that is unclear whether it’s a dream or their afterlife, leaving viewers with a profound aftertaste.
tvN Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Mr. Sunshine is a masterpiece that tells a tale about love and Korea’s aching history in Joseon Dynasty. It took a fresh approach by capturing the lives of the voluntary soldiers who came of age during the 1900s political upheavals in Korea. In addition to the protagonist couple, Eugene Choi (Lee Byung Hun) and Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri), the drama vividly portrayed the sad fates of Goo Dong Mae (Yoo Yeon Seok), Kim Hui Seong (Byun Yo Han) and Kudo Hina (Kim Min Jung). Eugene Choi and Go Ae Shin’s love story came to a sad conclusion as many voluntary soldiers lost their lives while fighting for Joseon’s freedom. However, Go Ae Shin was able to escape to Manchuria safely and continued to fight for Joseon’s independence.
KBS Uncontrollably Fond (2016)
Uncontrollably Fond deals with a man and a woman who parted ways on bad terms. Years later, they meet again as an arrogant superstar and a program producer who has to curry favor with him. Kim Woo Bin stars as the obnoxious star named Shin Joon Young, and Suzy plays the producer named No Eul, who must flatter the superstar in order to survive in the entertainment business. As they portrayed both an emotional and sweet romance, the two brought viewers both laughter and tears. Although there is the terminal illness trope and the rich guy poor woman trope, the drama was good enough to make the viewers cry with Shin Joon Young’s pure love for No Eul and his strong will to protect the woman he loves. The drama received rave reviews for its perfect ending as Shin Joon Young took his final breath in the loving arms of No Eul’s and as she calmly continued to live as a documentary producer after his death.
SBS Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
IU had starred in a sad fantasy romance drama three years before Hotel Del Luna. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is a fictional historical drama that follows a woman who travels back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea. It is a Korean remake of a Chinese drama, and the drama tweaked its setting to the early Goryeo Dynasty to better approach the Korean audience. It tells the stories of the royal family and Hae Soo’s love story with the 4th Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Ki) that transcends time and space. The love that blossomed amidst the power struggle in the palace has come to a sad ending with a cliffhanger, just like the original story did. The drama left many viewers with teary eyes as it showed Ha Jin returning to the present day, shedding tears while looking at Wang So’s painting displayed in a museum.
MBC Empress Ki (2013)
Empress Ki depicts the love and struggle of a Korean woman named Ki Seung Nyang (Ha Ji Won), who later becomes the empress of the Yuan Dynasty China. Seung Nyang, who was brought over to the Mongol Yuan court as a servant, perfectly leads the 50-part series as she shapes her own destiny as the empress of Yuan. The drama mainly revolves around the love triangle between Seung Nyang, Wang Yu (Joo Jin Mo), and Ta Hwan (Ji Chang Wook) and the power struggle of the women in the court. The final episode illustrates Seung Nyang lonesomely watching the fall of the Yuan Dynasty and the deaths of everyone around her. The popular Seung Nyang-Ta Hwan couple couldn’t avoid their tragic ending despite the enthusiastic support from the viewers.
Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.
Translator Esther Lee: I’ll be providing you with up-to-date, reliable Korean entertainment news. Enjoy!