“Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” Bitter-Sweet Ending Explained- Episode 16 Recap And Review

Published Categorized as K-Dramas and K-Movies

“Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” has officially come to an end, airing its final episode on December 3rd and came to an end on a high note scoring good ratings.

 “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” episode 16 had an unexpectedly ended on a bitter-sweet moment and also slightly confused fans, today, we’re here to recap “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” episode 16 and look back on the series as well.

Note: the below recap is a highlighted recap of the most important moments of Tale Of The Nine-Tailed episode 16, its not a full recap.

Related: “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” Cast Surprising Facts You Must Know

The recap


The final episode starts with the aftermath of Lee Yeon’s sacrificing his life for his lover. His brother Lee Rang and Ji Ah are unable to move on. Lee Rang drowns himself in alcohol; Ji Ah continues to beg halmoni to do something to bring him back camping outside their place for a long period of time.


Hyun Ui Ong decides to return to halmoni’s side, the illness has disappeared and Ji Ah’s friend is good again.

Shin Ju continues being a gentleman checking up on both regularly to make sure they’re ok, he hands Lee Rang a video message by his brother which was left for him in case he’s died. He spends the first month crying every night.

Lee Rang seems to have slightly gotten better, Ji Ah decides not to forget Lee Yeon and wait for him, she ends up making a sort of documentary interviewing the people he loves to keep his memory alive, the documentary is for her viewing.

Shin Ju proposes to Yu Ri in the most romantic way possible, he sings her and asks her to marry him, she warns him she comes with a package, but says yes. The entire gang get together to celebrate their engagement.


It also appears that the cook (Bok Hye Ja) has gotten together with Team Leader Choi who also joins their celebration.


Meanwhile, Halmonie is trying her best to see if there is a way to bring back Lee Yeon, but it’s not working.

After 6 months

Ji Ah celebrates her birthday and gets sent a present from Lee Yeon who prepared it for her before his death, it’s a wedding dress that she wished for along with a letter where he talks about the beautiful times they’ve spent together telling her she’ll get used to him not being around.


Meanwhile, Yuri, the kid, and Lee Rang all live together with Shin Ju, they’re causing him trouble but they look like a happy family.


In another day while Ji Ah was at a park she runs into Lee Rang, it appears that he hasn’t given up and has been going around trying to find a way to bring back his brother.

He is supposed to meet the fortune teller who turns out to be one of the afterlife judges, the one responsible for reincarnation. They make a deal to bring back Lee Yeon but of course, they have to give him the most valuable thing they cherish.


Ji Ah tries to offer her memories but he declines, she then suggests offering her life but Lee Rang explodes in anger telling her she shouldn’t die after all the things his brother has done to keep her alive.

He offers his soul instead despite the fact that it appeared he didn’t have the will to live previously, he now does and thus, his soul became valuable again. Lee Rang tells Ji Ah to bring the family so he could see them one last time; sadly, he misses the chance to say goodbye.

Another funeral is held.


After sometime, Ji Ah is handed an umbrella that looks exactly like the one Lee Yeon uses, she runs after a man who looks like him, she hugs him tightly as they reunite, he explains he’s no longer a nine-tailed fox and asks if she’d be okay with it.


After both reunite and spend the rest of the day together, the next day Lee Yeon sees the documentary that was kept in his memory as a way to keep up with everything that’s passed.

He also goes to see Shin Ju and tells him he’s human now and suffers from the things humans suffer from. He takes his little brother phone and finds out he’s left one final message for him. He talks about how much he cared for him and how this message is a payback to the message he’s received after his death, Lee Rang says he wishes his brother will be reincarnated ‘preferably with an extremely ugly face.’


He ends his video message with,

‘If we ever can, let’s meet again…’

The next day, Lee Yeon goes to visit halmoni and her husband who talks about the calls she’s made for him, he sits down for a meal with them after explaining that he won’t be able to come here again since he’s human.

On a field, Lee Yeon and Ji Ah get married promising to be there for each other.


After more days have passed, Lee Yeon is still suffering to get used to human life and complains about it.

In a park, he is sitting down on a bench and sees a little kid fall from his bike, he goes to help him only to see the face of his younger brother Lee Rang when he was a kid, he helps him get back up and sees him off.


Later, he picks up Ji Ah who complains about seeing this man with a weird mask at the police station who wouldn’t take it off.

During night, Lee Yeon gives one final speech in voiceover about human life that is filled with firsts and lasts. He then wears a suit after Ji Ah falls asleep, he takes his umbrella and goes off to find that person Ji Ah talked about. He hunts him down and the final scene shows his eyes lit like a fox again, is Lee Yeon back to being a nine-tailed fox?


The end

The Review


I don’t like the ending!

It might sound cruel but I would’ve been fine with Lee Yeon staying dead and Ji Ah just going on with her life, just like he did waiting for her for 600 years. It would’ve come full circle by then.

For starters, the episode felt unnecessarily long. The writing of the episodes leading up to the finale was becoming annoying to me, “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” was a fun watch but didn’t need to be 16 episodes long. Many kdramas suffer from that, the need to be the industry standard 16 episodes, when will screenwriter stop stretching scripts beyond their intended stay? and when will producers also stop feeling the need to produce 16 episodes? and when will the broadcasting stations realize that?

I have many things to nitpick with “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” and especially its last episode because somehow it felt so uncalled for, as if the entire build up leading to Lee Yeon’s sacrifice meant nothing, if you’re going to bring him back regardless, was anything ever worth it? Were the tears worth it?

The emphasis of “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” was always based on how Ji Ah sacrificed her life for Lee Yeon and how in the present day, there was no way around the difficult situation they’ve been placed in, one has to die in order for the world to go back to normal. That’s what the screenwriter emphasized on, why abandon that idea in favor of a happy confusing ending?


The ending I liked would’ve been sad but expected. Lee Rang sacrificing his soul would’ve been better suited at the end of the 15th episode, instead of killing his brother, he takes the imogi with him to that river, that would’ve been the best way to end it but that wouldn’t have made for a 16th unnecessarily long episode stuffed with filler scenes, now would it?  

Also, Lee Rang has committed many awful deeds too, how is it that he gets to be reincarnated?

“Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” ending explained


The happy ending aside, the entire talk about Yeon becoming human felt so confusing and so out of place. Why did the screenwriter insist on making scenes about Lee Yeon talking about human life only to show him at the ending scene looking like this? He goes around complaining about it, repeating over and over again how it’s difficult to adjust and then it ends that way.

Here are my explanations for “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” ending:

Lee Yeon is either half-human half-fox or he’s still a nine-tailed fox.

However, if that’s true, it also doesn’t make sense, why would he be reincarnated as a half-human and how is that possible?  

The other possible explanation is that he struck a deal with halmoni and her husband after he’s gone there to ‘say goodbye.’

The last possible explanation is that Lee Yeon was never reincarnated but only brought back to life in his original form. the most logical one.


Regardless, this defeats the entire purpose of Lee Yeon’s reincarnation, the man wanted to live a normal human life. His brother is a half-human half-fox since his mother is human but he’s been alive all those years already, does this mean Lee Yeon won’t age? But he’s said he’s human, wouldn’t Ji Ah notice that after a while?

also, its not like Ji ah disapproved of his identity to begin with, she didn’t find issues with it and rather embraced it, so running with that uncalled for ending scene made me question why I liked this drama so much to begin with.

I reviewed the first episodes “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” previously and talked about how much I liked it. I like well-written scripts but I can’t say “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” kept up the same enthusiasm as its first half.

The ending annoyed me so much that I began to look back on the second half more seriously and it annoyed me even more.

I won’t deny I enjoyed “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed,” but again, another drama second-half ruins the good that came from it.

So these are my thoughts on “Tale Of The Nine-Tailed” ending, what did you guys think of it? did you like it?

Whats your reaction to this article?

By Jass K.

Hi, I am Jass k. I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas on this site in form of reviews an/or recaps, join me in the discussion~


  1. I don’t understand the ending either. So he’s not human? But he has astigmatism and root canal, and also wasn’t allowed in taluipa office anymore. If he’s human? Then why does he still has his powers and gumiho eyes in the end. The director better explained that.

      1. Yes it is because of fox bead itself, here is my theory. So when Yeon came back as a human he is a human but becouse of his fox bead he still have his power of the nine tailed, for his body, age, eye and all of it its pure human, just his power or ability that still lies to him and make him still have nine tailed power. That is just my theory and thought

    1. I dont think he is reincarnation. If he was then he would have been a small boy and not the same as he left. I mean a person cant grow in 5 months which means he has been brought back from that place and not reincarnated

  2. I interpreted the ending as, Lee Yeon still being a bit of a fox. More of an essence of a fox than an actual fox. The masked supernatural character was hanging around Ji Ah. I think he put on his suit and went after it purposefully. He hasn’t forgotten how to fight because he still has all his memories. I enjoyed the ending.

  3. i confused on 2 things. how the samdo river grandma go back to normal after became stone and lee yeon’s condition. so now he’s half gumiho? its definitely not reincarnation, because he wa back only after 6 months and he was back in the exact form as he was

    1. Maybe the stone transformation is only temporary? Or her husband helped her out. Or she is just to powerful to die.

      Lee Yeon is half or full or temorary gumiho, I think. Probably he just got back instantly because of the trade or something else we don’t know. There are many theories.

  4. I am so glad you mentioned those little loopholes in the plot. I totally agree with you that they stretched the plot out way too long and I found myself skipping some parts just to hurry it along. I also don’t get the ending where he is a guhimo again? Especially after he went to Granny and told her he would never see her again because he is human, yet he is going around fighting more evil spirits. Wouldn’t she notice and see that with her special sight? She even mentioned the trees and plants saying goodbye to their old master. I also had an idea for Lee Rang’s ending that could have kept him in their little circle. Since they reincarnated him at around the same age as “Blacky”, I thought it would have been neat to have them maybe meet at school or in the park and become friends, giving them a chance to grow up together and allowing Lee Rang to still be close to his family and friends. Regardless, even though I loved the characters and the acting, I was not thrilled with the plot.

    (just an interesting little plot twist i thought would have been cool).

  5. spot on. i didn’t like the ending because i felt like Rang was made to sacrifice unnecessarily. Yeon stabbed his brother and left him to die without explaining himself for so long but apparently Rang is the crazy person for feeling betrayed and acting up. Not to mention that Yeon was off at the beach leaving Yuri to get something done while his brother lay there, dying. Rang’s found family was the one that really loved him; i feel like Yeon tried much harder for Ji Ah than he ever did for Rang and it was sad that Rang had to die just to bring our hero back

    1. OF COURSE, i damn agree with you in the line if “leon tried much harder for ji ah, than he ever did for rang”. I mean…come on, his brother sacrificed his self jut to make sure leon had an happy ending, and finally was left abundant in his grave which he feared the most. In the other hand leon, ji ah, shin jin, yu ri and that little boy ended having a happy ending while rang was just fading from their memories. Ok… I do understand the fact that rang was reincarnated and was noticed by leon later on… But i could convince my self more if leon had a scene of remembering rang a bit more that he actually did!!!!

  6. I am agree with u…it liltle bit confusing at the end,which is make me guess what is Lee Yeon exactly now…a Fox or Human or half Human-half Fox?
    but this last episode have made me cried almost all along the movie…such a Good Drama worth waiting for every week..

  7. Hated the ending too! My daughter and I were so frustrated. Like you, we thought that this would be one of my favorite Kdrama until it got really bad in the last 4 episodes. The build up led to nothing. The mirror of the moon made no sense there was no build up to the being a thing. Need I say the Ji Ah was not worth dying for after awhile. Everyone’s lives were turned upside down for what??? We love Dong Woo. We would have loved to watch this again but we won’t after that ending. I’m so sorry to say that.

  8. Maybe it has something to do with the bead that the king of darkness had. Lee Yeon is a nine-tailed fox, they have nine lives. That bead could have represented one of his lives.

    1. I guessing he is human at day and night is immortal. After all he had save the lives of thousands and what he wish for being with his love one as human. They need him still to maintain the balance of the world. Hence they may have strike a deal but this deal inclusive that no one knows his power still retain.

    2. I read some where that if a gumiho ( a nine tailed fox ) somehow manages to keep its identity a secret for 100 days ( guess same as Lee Yeon did) , as everyone around him believed that he reborn as a human then in this case he could again get the powers and identity of nine tailed fox. That is why there was reflection of full moon shown in the last of 16th episode.

  9. I literally hate movies/series that just end with a hangcliffer on the final episode! Like it doesn’t matter if there’s a season 2 but don’t put one at the end! I really need an official explanation on why he’s a fox and not human.

    1. I basically love the drama but last episode make me confused maybe there is season 2 .btw rang maybe has committed many awful crime BUT IS OKAY IF HE REINCARNATED. I think most of the nine tailed fan love if he stay in the drama till end 😉

  10. I guessing he is human at day and night is immortal. After all he had save the lives of thousands and what he wish for being with his love one as human. They need him still to maintain the balance of the world. Hence they may have strike a deal but this deal inclusive that no one knows his power still retain.

  11. My theory is this:
    Yeon really became a human. He now have a human life span and gets old as well. But that last scene on the balcony where they showed the full moon got me thinking that Yeon can get back his powers only on full moons. He hunts evil spirits on full moon, and I think that’s much better.

  12. The ending was confusing as well as mysterious cause why he still has his powers?
    His wish was to be a normal human being. There should be a season 2 of it! The ending was not satisfying. He still has gumiho eyes and the powers, so why did he lied? The screenwriter should explain it.
    According to the ending it should have a season 2!
    Desperately waiting for the season 2!

  13. The bro-love in this story really mesmerizing… I loved it.. Yes, ending is a little confusing but I suppose he became human but left with the only ability of hunting spirits for purpose of saving lives as he was once the mountain spirit(king of nature).
    Anyways I’m not offended with the ending that much, I liked the plotting, story, leads specially the small brother Rang (Kim bum) of the 2 brothers ..

  14. The ending was so confusing and it bothered me so much I googled “what does the ending of the “tale of nine-tailed fox” mean and came across your site. The only thing that I could think of is, “a life for a life”. As Lee rang is half human, half fox…idk just grasping at things to make sense of that ending. Thank you for this post.

    The human experiences that Lee Yeon speak of in the last episode, what does it all mean? What was the intentions of the writer(s)?

  15. I go with the possible theory that he may be a gumiho at night or if the full moon rises or maybe the red umbrella has this powers idk but yeah.

    I liked the ending for me. Having Lee Yeon lived after many years of waiting for his first love makes it worth it. Also, the character development Lee Rang showed is exceptional. He also had his redemption and especially, he became reincarnated so they all had good endings for each other.

    Although the director should still answer us abt the gumiho ending scene or else he owes us part 2 of the series HAHAHA

    1. I think he is human he can’t deny being nine tailed if he was…it was full moon that night( that is why the camera zoomed on the moon) may be he can gain his power once in full moon and return back to human.

  16. Here we are also confused about the ending scene. read thru most of the comments to shed some light into it and to support our theories. I’m guessing it had something to do with the fox bead. Probably activates when circumstances call for it.

  17. Lee Rang being half human and half fox, he was supposed to grow old and die just like a human. But remember that part when Lee yeon slashed his chest? He wasn’t dead but in the brink of dying. The traitor passed by him (on purpose) and gave him the fruit with human souls in it. From then on, whenever he feels like he’s weak, he goes to the house of that traitor to ask for a fruit (every single time, since they are bound for a life contract until Lee Rang repays the traitor for saving his life). That explains Lee Rang’s life. For Lee Yeon, I do think he was brought back by the 10th Afterlife judge since Lee Rang’s life was way more valuable than the judge imagined. Since Lee Rang was already having the thought of living his life fully, that alone gave it much value for him to trade his life for Lee Yeon or Lee Yeon’s reincarnation. I don’t think he struck a deal with Halmom because Halmom is not capable of that. The most capable of bringing back someone from being dead was that fortune teller or also known as the 10 afterlife judge. Lee Yeon might have strucked a deal with that judge in exchange of retaining his appearance and power (Lee Rang already traded his life for Lee Yeon) but the assurance of getting the appearance and power lies between an agreement between the judge and Lee Yeon.

  18. Lee Rang lived a long life because of the ground cherries. Without them, he will aged and die. Anyways Tale of the Nine Tailed always have a back story. I suspect he made a pact with Granny and that’s why he’s back to being a fox or maybe half fox who may die of old age without the ground cherries.

    1. THE ONLY REASON I DIDN’T like THE ENDING was because of Lee Rang he didn’t dessert to die I want him to be resurrected the right way and be with his brother and still be a fox,I’m happy he still a fox

  19. I also hated the ending and searched on Google for reviews and found yours. Finally a review that points out the same problem I had! In the ending I was worried why he is going against a scary creature while he is human. And then suddenly we see his 9 tailed abilities. Why did he lie to Ji Ah if he really loves her? She already loved him even as a 9 tailed. This was so stupid!! The end made me also question everything

  20. Well this series just confused me honestly I liked the beginning but after like 6 episodes I was just like”what the hell” the character I really liked was kim bum maybe cause I missed him but well I loved him, he acted all tough but he all he wanted was his brothers love I wish his brother gave him that. The ending why did Rang die this show really confused me like come-on. I really like rewatching kdramas but this one i never want to watch again. I loved the characters but the show not so much. I watched this cause of kim bum and they kill him . I’m disappointed but I’m glad I watched it cause I was soooo curious about it since everyone talked about it on social media I just had to and I’m glad I’m done with, maybe there is a season 2 cause they need to explain a lot of staff here .

  21. I was disappointed with the ending cos Lee Yeon obviously still has his fox powers. But why bring him back as a human in the first place then? Just to satisfy his curiosity as to what it would be like as a human? And then to allow him to turn bsck into fox with all the powers only when the need arises? Way too sneaky for my liking. He is either fox or human, can’t be both. There is no logic in that. The director ruined this magnificent tale. It always had the element of the mysterious, magical for me and this is what MADE the movie. Spoiling it right at the end just does not cut it. Magic gone. Sad. Lee Yeon was far more enigmatic as the more mysterious fox. Should rather just have left him dead (otherwise the sacrifice he made for his lover is not logical) or we should have seen ending scenes with Jia moving on with her life and keeping Yeon as a sweet memory of what was. She knew what she was getting into in the first place right at the beginning when she fell in love with a mountain god cum fox. Maybe Jia should have also died in the end, together with Yeon. There are unanswered queations left hanging…how did grandma recover from being turned into stone? Why would Lee Rang sacrifice himself for his brother if Yeon was going to come back? Episode 16 was just one long, nonsensical “fillers”. A second season will not make any difference. The tale has already been ruined and no second season ideas will fix it. If there is one in the offing I will not watch it. Period.

  22. It ended really badly. It is true that Lee Rong reincarnated, but it was sad. But it was good for him because he no longer had the fruit and was short-lived. My opinion is that the person who made her back to a woman was Lee Rong, a half fox. So Yeon becomes a half-fox because he has returned through his brother.

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