“My Liberation Notes” has ended its run a couple of hours ago, we’re here to recap the finale and discuss how it ended.
Note: the below recap isn’t word for word but focuses on the vital moments of the last episode. A separate section for explaining each character’s future is below.
“My Liberation Notes” episode 16 recap
The episode starts with the aftermath of Yeom Gi-Jeong cutting her hair, her oppa scolds her for cutting her hair so short like that.
Yeom Gi-Jeong and Cho Tae-Hun have a friendly conversation on the phone, he wants to buy her father a present for his birthday but she asks him not to do that, he’s gotten him many other presents for prior occasions.
The couple sees each other at a restaurant by accident, he didn’t recognize her from the back because she cut her hair.
The four members of the liberation club reunite, Mr. Park tells them his friend offered to publish their notes all together. They contemplate it and Cho Tae-Hun is the first to say that he’s uncomfortable with the idea because its so personal to him. Mr. Park suggests they use pseudonyms and they laugh it off.
All three but Ms. So have stopped writing the notes after their club was disbanded. When asked if she feels liberated. She says someday she feels that while in others she doesn’t. When Cho Tae-Hun says he doesn’t feel liberated and he’s only figured out what his problem was, Yeom Mi-Jeong says maybe this was it, them finding out what the issue is and that might be the point. They’re not exactly liberated but they’re not back to square one either.
Mr. Gu is told off by his boss who tells him to cut off Hyeon and make it look like they closed the place because business wasn’t doing good. He’s told to move the shop to another location. He is angry and goes to a gambling location and catches him there. He attempts to run off but Mr. Gu tells him if the revenue ever goes below 80 million won, he’s out.
Mr. Gu also begins to hear things that aren’t there hinting at the fact that his body is taking a hit due to his drinking.
At night, he meets Yeom Mi-Jeong at his place. They chat. He talks about why he’s become an alcoholic. He says, ‘its easier than being sober… when I am sober, all the people from my past come to me, even the dead. The ones who were resting get up one by one and come to me, endlessly.”
He curses at them, and after an hour, he gets exhausted. He feels better when he gets up and drinks because they go away.
Yeom Mi-Jeong talks about her ex who stole from her. After saying his name, Mr. Gu asks for his number. Yeom Mi-Jeong declines to give him that and says ‘that bastard shouldn’t pay me back because I want to prove what a horrible person he is for as long as possible. To prove he didn’t leave me because I was small and insignificant but because he’s a terrible person… [pauses to think about it]… I exist to prove how terrible someone is.’
When Mr. Gu asks if she thought of him as one of those bastards, she says she’s never done that, she always wished him well and if she came close to hating him, she’d wish him well and instead curse at her ex.
The three siblings go back to Sanpo to see their father for his birthday. Turns out, Yeom Chang-Hee worked hard to get his father remarried, he previously worried they’d grow old together if he did nothing. When his father was set up on a date, he got him a facial. Their stepmother is very nice and happy with their dad. They’re also more expressive with their love now.
Yeom Chang-Hee talks to his friends over a wood fire and talks about how his business failed, he’s paid back his debt but the special oven he’s made failed. He hesitates and decides not to explain why it happened.
The next day, they’re having breakfast together. The father tells his kids, ‘You’re father isn’t strong, you guys are better than me.’
Later, we get a flashback and find out why Yeom Chang-Hee’s business failed. He was on his way to deliver the oven to some important people who wanted to see it tested at the store. However, he gets a call that Hyeon A’s ex is dying. He rushes to the hospital and calls her but no one is responding, his mother isn’t responding either. Yeom Chang-Hee holds his hands and assures him he’s there for him. He doesn’t go back to that fateful meeting that could have changed his life.
In the present day in 2022. Yeom Chang-Hee meets Hyeon A again, she’s now working two jobs, even on the weekend. They’re on good terms. she says she’ll visit him at his store.
Yeom Gi-Jeong and Cho Tae-Hun meet over what appears to be a meeting to break up.
He recalls how she felt sorry for him once he said what he wanted to be liberated from. He realized then that she won’t leave him even if she could, she agrees. Yeom Gi-Jeong says, ‘whats wrong with being drawn to someone out of pity? With human emotions, you can’t easily distinguish between pity, love, and respect easily. I can’t…. I respect you, I pity you and I love you.’
She says she feels wronged and feels like she’s another woman who only brings him misery. She feels like she’s losing at something but can’t pinpoint what it is. But when she imagines breaking up with him, her arms feel numb, since she obviously can’t imagine doing that to him, she feels she needs to go further but doesn’t know how to do that.
Cho Tae-Hun explains why he said he felt ‘relieved’ when she said she wasn’t pregnant. He says he feels so bad for kids when he sees them as he knows in some time they’ll be carrying some form of a burden on their backs, he hopes no child has to go through this. He wonders if he was happy he was born, he says he doesn’t feel happy he was born.
On another day, Yeom Mi-Jeong is drawing money and sees her ex. He doesn’t see her at first and accidentally brushes off a woman’s butt with his bag twice. She defends him as the woman grows impatient. He exits the place.
Outside, he sees her and tells her he’ll send her about a million won tomorrow [roughly $1000] and will send the rest later. He apologizes for having dragged this on for so long. She says its fine.
At night, she meets Mr. Gu who yells out her name. She’s so happy when she sees him. He talks about how he puts himself through so much basically asking to be spared and tortured a bit less for what he’s done. They laugh. Yeom Mi-Jeong tells him whenever those people come to him in the morning, he should laugh as he did with her and welcome them. He pauses to look at her and then runs to give her a back hug.
Cho Tae-Hun came to Yeom Gi-Jeong’s place to drop her some egg bread, he does that every three days because she told him she likes them. He gives her a stem of a rose and says its his heart. When she goes out, she sees the rose has either fallen off or been cut off, she picks it up and puts it in a soy cup.
In a separate scene. After Mr. Park looks at his liberation notes, he suggests they re-open the club. They all agree.
In the morning, Yeom Chang-Hee goes for a course about something relating to paintings and Korean history, he accidentally sets foot in the wrong lecture and finds out its for people who want to become funeral directors. He contemplates leaving but he doesn’t.
Mr. Gu also goes to work and sees that the place has been raided by some loan sharks who came to get money from Hyeon. He luckily beats them up and doesn’t get himself killed. However, Hyeon beats him on the back and runs away with 50 million won.
Mr. Gu goes back home feeling defeated. He calls Hyeon and tells him he’ll welcome him even if he’s one of those people whom he curses as soon as he wakes up. He tells him he’ll welcome him back.
He changes his outfit and cleans himself up, he puts on a bandage. He takes out the money he had stacked. He goes out to deliver the money. He buys alcohol from a store and as he’s about to exit, 500 won falls from him, it lands perfectly on the tiny bars and doesn’t fall, he picks it up. He smiles. He decides to get give the alcohol to a homeless person.
After work, Yeom Mi-Jeong pauses on the street, she’s smiling ear to ear and says she sums up her life in two phases before she met Mr. Gu and after she met him. In voiceover, Mr. Gu says, ‘me too.’ She feels so lovable. She says, “I feel so lovable. There’s nothing but love in my heart. I can’t feel anything but love”
“My Liberation Notes” ending explained
What happens to Yeom Chang-Hee?
Towards the end of the finale episode, despite Yeom Chang-Hee reading about paintings and Korean literature, his feet led him to another place. As he says, he has a psyche that leads him to where he needs to be. He’s already seen the death of four people, he made sure to be there for them during their final moments.
While he hesitates at first, he contemplates it and recalls saying how his feet and luck lead him to certain places. While its never properly explained, its hinted that Yeom Chang-Hee will become a funeral director. Its his fate and his life has been leading up to this moment where he finds his true calling in life.
Does Cho Tae-Hun and Yeom Gi-Jeong stay together?
Despite the relationship still feeling so stiff, its clearly hinted that Yeom Gi-Jeong is not about to give up on it. And despite the fact that he might also be stiff and has certain shortcomings, he still cares for her deeply buying her bread even in his drunken state every three days.
Yeom Gi-Jeong calls herself a ‘pick me’ girl. She sees the flower away from its stem lying in a bed of water. It’ll wither faster, she’s so afraid to take her eyes off of it. She’s reminded of their relationship. She says she loves him. Its hinted she will keep working on their relationship and never let go.
What happens to Mr. Gu?
Now here, everyone has a different theory but there is something we agree on. Mr. Gu is beginning to feel liberated and he is now actively trying to treat his alcoholism.
The scene that explains this is the coin scene, when he sees the coin, although insignificant in the grand scheme of things its barely hanging not going down the drain, he picks it up even if it feels like it doesn’t matter. Its as if he’s picking himself up thinking to himself ‘you matter.’
He feels liberated when he talks to Hyeon on the phone and says he’ll welcome him despite how he makes him feel. I personally interpreted the act of him taking out some of the money was to go give it to his boss. This money will cover for the losses Hyeon incurred because he stole some and ran away to gamble.
It could also be that he took out enough money to go pay the gangsters who were harassing him because he owed them money.
The 3rd explanation is that he took the money and decided to run away. However, this is the least convincing explanation. I don’t see why he’d run away. It felt like he was determined to push on.
Did Yeom Mi-Jeong feel liberated?
I believe so, yes.
I think the moment she realized she’s letting go of the hate towards her ex was when he said he’ll wire her some money and the rest for later. You can see she feels a burden has been lifted and now doesn’t want to resent him.
With the liberation club also back in business, this gives her even more liberation. She’s now happier and feels so lovable, she also reunited with Mr. Gu.
Did Mr. Gu and Yeom Mi-Jeong end up together?
I’d like to think they did. In voiceover, when she says, her life is split into two parts, it means she loves him that much. He’s changed her that much. When he says ‘me too’ in voiceover, I understood that they keep dating and don’t break up.
“My Liberation Notes” episode 16 review
“My Liberation Notes” is personally one of my favorite kdramas of 2022, if not my personal favorite this year- thus far. 2022 has been lackluster in terms of quality. I’d say about 65% of the kdramas that came out this year were simply average, not bad, not great, but average. “My Liberation Notes” truly stands out as an amazing project. You can tell that a lot of effort and love was put into it.
Where do I begin with my praise? Everything is perfect… the directing, the cinematography, the acting, the script. Everything, I nearly have no complaints whatsoever.
While the ending might have been open, I think it was done well. I had expected it to be worse actually and was pleasantly surprised Mr. Gu didn’t die. I was holding my breath in the last scenes, I was so afraid he’d be killed off which would have been understandable but it would have broken my hearts into pieces.
“My Liberation Notes” was never about conclusions. I would have still loved for a couple of things to happen but if we’re experiencing a drama that mimics reality interestingly, I’d say they did a very good job and stayed true to what they have always been.
“My Liberation Notes” has been a great companion for me the past two months. Waiting for episodes weekly was very annoying, very stressful and also felt rewarding when Saturday came. Its a mix of emotions but I am glad I was there since the beginning, enjoying it, analyzing it, sometimes over-analyzing it and fangirling. It was lots of fun.
And for that, I am thankful. I honestly learned a lot. I am even thinking of starting my own liberation notes but a part of me is deathly afraid of confronting whats wrong with me. There are many quotes that struck me on a personal level, I can’t say I relate to a character purely but relate to different types of struggles different characters have, and regardless of that, I was so invested in their lives. Its been a while since I’ve been this invested in a drama, its been a while since I’ve repeated scenes from a drama so many times.
“My Liberation Notes” reminded me of why I watch kdramas.
What did you guys think of the ending?