“SKY Castle” Episode 20 Recap [Ending Explained]- A Cringe Fest Or The Perfect Happy Ending?

Published Categorized as Kdrama Recaps

Arguably the most successful Korean cable drama of all time has recently concluded its run. “SKY Castle” last episode was very shocking!

JTBC “SKY Castle” was a hit drama that caused a nationwide sensation; Koreans couldn’t stop talking about it and for a very good reason.

I have binge-watched the whole drama for the past week and had a lot of feelings about its final episode, I have seen netizens divided on the ending of this drama, some calling “SKY Castle” ending a cringe-fest while others loved it.

Some of netizens comments on the final episode


[+833, -82] The whole last episode was just a bunch of ads… the PPL kept distracting me… Would’ve been better to end it at the 19th episode.

[+645, -142] The worst last episode ever

[+89, -1] The ending shows that Kay prefers bonjuk to curry

[+80, -5] The 20th episode must’ve been written by a KBS scriptwriter

[+56, -2] The first couple episodes were so thrilling ㅠㅠ after all those leaked spoilers, the true shock in the end was that there was no shock.

[+55, -1] The most thrilling part of the last episode was whether Yeseo and Yebin ate pasta or ribs for dinner

[+51, -7] Quite the boring ending. It almost felt like it wasn’t worth the wait. Since when did such selfish mothers make such a drastic transformation so easily? The only struggle was turning a black drama into a happy ending.

[+97, -1] I only feel bad for Hyena’s death. The privileged get to live their lives happy and free while the underprivileged is dead. That’s reality. People like to make themselves feel better by saying that the rich have their own troubles too but there are more rich who live happier lives than not.

[+53, -11] Why are people so against the happy ending ㅋㅋ and is it really a happy ending when the ending showed the cycle continues?

[+41, -7] Can this truly be called a well-made final episode? I don’t even think the same scriptwriter wrote it. Every episode had a shocking end that added to the thrill of the drama and the final episode was a shock in itself at how bad it was. I’m just glad to have found such a great cast of actors. Great work to all!

My personal thoughts on the finale episode:


[NOTE: this part is about deciphering the plot which means pointing out possible plot holes in my opinion. This also includes “SKY Castle” episode 20 recap and “SKY Castle” ending explained]

“SKY Castle” is a dark satirical drama that discusses sensitive topics; it talks about society pressure, suicide and so many other things. With such a heavy theme, the drama can be difficult to digest; however, “SKY Castle” writer proved everyone such a tricky theme can be handled well.

In “SKY Castle” episode 20, almost everyone gets their happy ending. It is almost an hour and a half. For the divide on the final episode, I think it all boils down to your own taste, I did like the final episode but I completely understand those who didn’t.

To truly understand what happened with episode 20 and why some netizens called it a bad episode we have to recall what happened about a month ago.

A month ago, JTBC announced they would be adding four more episodes to the drama because of its immense popularity. The news was met with mixed reactions, some were happy while others were skeptic because drama extension usually dilutes the script.

Personally, I feel that the only reason Hye Na’s character was killed off was because the drama got extended. To me, it feels that the writer had another idea in her head, and because the drama became so successful she had to change some key points.


Killing Hye Na was the only thing that could possibly extend the drama and still make it interesting, so I understand the writer’s choice here.

I believe the drama was going to end with Hye Na exposing her secret to the world and watching Yeh Suh and her mother collapse under the public eyes. And I honestly believe the writer had a much darker ending in mind.

Hye Na’s death


Because of all that went down in episode 15, with the finale, I anticipated a logical explanation for Hye Na’s death. I get it was implied that the janitor killed her but there are so many inconsistencies and coincidences that need to be met in order for that scenario to make sense. Who killed Hye Na? Can it be logically explained?

In the wider spectra, I understand why Coach Kim killed Hye Na, unlike what some kdrama fans think. She killed her husband because he threatened to take away her genius daughter, why wouldn’t she kill a teenager who threatens to dethrone her from her throne?

If she gets caught for stealing exam papers it’s the end of her career, it’s the end of her dominance over obsessive selfish parents who live off others recognition and praise.

The part of catching Coach Kim is rushed at best, the writer had a lot of episodes to peal through the reason why she killed her and how she exactly carried it out. However, for some reason, she chose to gloss over it.

The reason behind coach Kim manipulative personality


There is another thing I wished I knew more about, I wanted to understand why Coach Kim became the person she became in more details, what was the root of it? The writer had a lot of time to give us explanations as to why she behaves that way.

Coach Kim is a very interesting person, the writer did sprinkle details here and there but I wanted an episode dedicated to understanding what turned her to this instead of 2-minute flashbacks to the early 2000s every once and a while.

It almost felt as if the person who wrote episode 20 wasn’t the writer, it might not make sense to some of you but when I recall the episodes I have watched previously episode 20 just doesn’t fit the overall vibe.

The writer tried to highlight the human greed and their resistance to change, in episode 20, it feels like she abandoned one of the core ideas she based her script on.

The shock of going to prison


Hwang Woo Joo’s experience in prison obviously changed his entire perspective into the complete opposite, studying constantly without rest and not studying at all similar consequences…they will ruin your life.

Hwang Woo Joo is clearly ailing from the huge shock of suddenly becoming a criminal accused of murder; his retaliation is dropping out of everything and leaving for Europe.

I find what he did completely logical and within reason, however, I don’t like the manner in which it was carried out. The writer should have shown this in a different light, not the happy-go-lucky perspective since this man is about to seriously damage his future.

His decision shouldn’t have been glossed over as well, and should have been portrayed as a serious issue, the consequences of cornering a young man like that and how this entire ordeal changed his mentality into something that will also hurt him in the future.

Forgive and forget?


I also found that the four women sitting down and chatting over tea to be implausible. I still can’t understand just why Lee Soo Im decided to forgive Yeh Suh mother or even be okay with sitting down with on the table when she’s done all she had to her son.

She begged and kneeled over and over again, only after Han Seo Jin saw how seriously damaged her daughter has become after an innocent boy was ruined because of her that she decided to also let go, she feared for her daughter mental well-being first and foremost which is why she ended up letting go.


Even if it was about marks, as Yeh Suh’s father said, Yeh Suh can easily started afresh. She can transfer into a foreign boarding school and continue to lead a happy fulfilling life scoring perfect marks, all she had to do was expose Coach Kim.

Lee Soo Im could have stayed bitter; all of the four mothers had a turbulent relationship with Han Seo Jin.

Their ability to face her, sit down with her and engage in conversation is rather implausible given the direction of the plot up to episode 20. They all knew she knew more than she was letting on and yet chose to stay silent for whatever reason….

Kang Joon Sang killed a teenager because he wanted to advance in his career so badly, he couldn’t care less before he knew it was his daughter. I find this unsettling to say the least. He is also an extremely selfish human being who only cares about himself, it was nice seeing him suffer for the horrible decisions he’s made.

However, I also don’t understand how he could have ever forgiven Han Seo Jin for what she’s done to him. The least she could do was to tell him that was his daughter in the hospital, yet she chose to bury it because it means she’s getting rid of her for good.

She had another chance to come clean at her funeral but she; again; tried to hide it.

Even if he feels guilt for not realizing Hye Na was his daughter earlier, given his character, I actually thought this would result in their separation but it didn’t.

Han Seo Jin is a terrible toxic person, she went through difficult circumstances, I won’t deny that but the way she seems to have moved on and been forgiven by those around her irritates me.

She has a long way to go; the writer didn’t give me the realistic ending I had hoped for considering her writing pattern. I honestly wanted to see them both suffer even more for the horrible decisions they’ve made.

Just because they told the police about coach Kim wrongdoings don’t automatically absolve the rest of their own mistakes. It almost felt as if all was forgiven.

Lee Soo Im is almost too kind to be real


After all that Coach Kim has done to Lee Soo Im, Lee Soo Im brings her her child, that also didn’t make sense to me.

I don’t understand why the writer changed Lee Soo Im character so suddenly and made her out to be this extremely compassionate person who continues to stick by or support those who harmed her most when it didn’t seem she was that type of person throughout the entire drama runtime.

She was running around threatening both Coach Kim and Han Seo Jin telling them she will expose them, they end up hurting her child and falsely accusing him of murder but she does this?


I am not talking about making sure Kay had a nice place to go to, but the act of taking Kay to her mother, that was weird. I never thought that Lee Soo Im would ever want to see Coach Kim face again.

“SKY Castle” Ending Explained- Coach Kim is back?


The final scene in which they suddenly cut to coach Kim’s face was hella weird… What could possibly be the “SKY Castle” ending explained scenario?

The scene felt so unnecessary and out of the blue. The writer didn’t explain how the trial went or what she was charged with.

I am not familiar with Korean law but as far as I know, those who instigate murder get a heavy sentence even if they didn’t pull the trigger themselves, they’re usually punished as hard as the murderer since they drove the operation forward.

The only logical reason could be that the writer might be thinking of season two which is why she brought out Coach Kim character again like that.

What I said were my personal thoughts on the script, this is in my opinion what prevented “SKY Castle” from being utterly phenomenal.

I did like episode 20 but I wished it had a more realistic tone to it even if it meant a sad ending.

Episode 20 was flawed in comparison to how the writer has spoiled us in previous episodes; it feels like an MBC drama almost where everything starts out badly but in the final episode everyone gets their happy ending.

Overall, the drama was well-written, well-directed, and had Oscar-worthy performances from everyone involved.

Its very difficult these days to find a kdrama that holds all those three characteristics.

I will miss the cast; they were all amazing in their own way. They grew on me (some of them) and I had lots of fun watching. I would highly recommend it.

How did you feel about the final episode? Do you agree or disagree with me?

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. The scene where Coach Kim’s face was shown was a metaphor that there are more coaches out there that prey on these grade-obsessive families/a symbol for the never dying greed that drives families like this insane over education.

  2. I can’t believe they all (the characters) make excuses for Han Seo Jin‘s behavior like “Ohmygawd Unnie/ Yeobo I’m sorry for everything you’ve been through too“ … like what !? They’re all lost their damn mind?!. This woman this cheated, extorted, hide a daughter even sent an innocent boy to jail yet she was able to have a happy ending. I’m sorry but no… I’ll the police, I need my weekend back lmao

  3. Is there going to be a season 2?

    I loved the series but I agree that everyone forgiving YeSeo’s mom and SooIm being so nice at the end seemed a but rushed…it takes years for that kind of forgiveness.

  4. I personally sympathised with kwak mi hyang’s character. While i agree that she was forgiven in a very fairy-tale-like manner. She suffered a lot and also we see glimpses of her old, true self. As soo han’s mom pointed out, she is tender hearted. And we dont acknowledge it because her thought process was highly polluted by how the world treated those with not very good grades and students who didnt attend top universities. It is really a dark and honest commentary on Korean education system. But it shows how a mother was stripped off of her identity all together so that she could “fit in” the high society. Ye seo’s good side comes into picture when she no longer has the reason to “race and win” in the competitive society. I have issues with her grandmother tho. We see the human parts of every person we were introduced to and also the episode has an underlying dark truth that one cannot improve the a whole society by themselves. Its only what we can do within our reach. You love your child, listen to your family, stay humble and choose happiness over anything else and most of all, be what you are meant to be for your family first. Despite doing this, there will be monsters around and you just need to do what you can. Im glad woo joo’s mom published the book. Thats a nice way to contribute to the society. And yes, i agree that hye na’s death was merely a commercial plot twist. And i don’t really like that girl so im fine with her dying. She deserved to be loved but her approach and her two faced behaviour and resentment made me wonder if her mother even raised her well. Woo joo was realistic until he decided to go to europe. He is not like 56 or something where he has studied and achieved enough and established his own family and is tired of life or something. What i think wouldve been a better ending for him would be to join the study group with ye seo and learn to respect hye na by living a good responsible life. He simply was being too mature and unnecessarily philosophical. He could introspect who he is and his purpose without quitting school all together just by moderating his schedule. I found the family scenes really sweet and heart warming. Sure it wasnt as dark and thrilling as the other episodes, but people here who say they wanted more suffering are covered in a false sense of justice. Real courage is learning to forgive and love even the worst of your enemy only and only when you see them change. And you did see change, which was not rapid but required various sessions of regret, guilt and understanding of how it feels to be used and toyed with. And i think kwak mi hyang has been through enough and finally realises what she has done. She suffered for her deeds. And even when she says to coach kim that yes, she was selfish for only thinking about ye seo, she wasn’t justifying her previous actions, she meant to show that she loved ye seo but she realsied every single second of her destructive plans that she wasnt doing a good deed. She hated herself and the life she had because of how cruel the society was and didnt wish that for her child in any circumstance. Every time she was confronted with reality she quivered in despise over her own self and actions. When ye seo finally told her about how much it coasted them and those around them(even more for those they lives especially) they just knew there “dreams” were nothing compared to what it meant to be just and rightfully return what is not theirs.

      1. I’m in episode 15, hye na is dead. I’m so disappointed. Now as I read that the characters I hate will get happy ending, I don’t feel like watching. Maybe I’ll fast forward

  5. Yes I agree the ending was too fairy-tale-like. It was as if suddenly the last few episodes were dipped in sugar. Seo Jin & her husband were too arrogant and had too much pride to initiate going over to U-ju’s place and kneel before him for forgiveness. Also agree on the backstory of Coach Kim, so much more time should have been devoted to it. The writer should also have included the details of how Hye-na’s murder was carried out. Seo Jin was just such an unlikeable character, she really didn’t deserve this ‘happy ending’ although yes they moved out of Sky Castle but to have all her friendships & family intact is just too good for her. However, all in all, really loved the series & the acting – I must have cried countless times each episode and the soundtracks were amazing too.

  6. Episode 20 was so excessively sweet it can give you diabetes. Oversimplified to wrap up with as many happy endings as possible it made it clear that this is just a soap opera , real life isn’t all as sweet and simple. A huge dissapointment after an addictive build-up of excellent writing editing and performances

  7. I was kind of disappointed with the ending. There were a lot of parts that I found unrealistic and disagreed with. For example, Woo Joo dropping out of school to “find happiness” like wtf? The drama was more to a reality check and that wasn’t realistic at all. Besides, the fact that the students disrespected the teacher. The twins should at least pointed out what the teacher did wrong respectfully since it’s their teacher. I also find it ridiculous that they started a coup d etat like that with the idea that school is bad and you don’t need to study when studying is actually getting you somewhere in real life.

    Also, call me whatever you want but I kind of understand Han Seo Jin and why she wouldn’t give up on Ye Seo. She’s been through a lot and the main reason was the grandma. She worked extremely hard to please the mother in law, and she had to give everything to Ye Seo because she’s never been treated that way before. Imagine working hard for 15 years to reach your goal, it’s only 1 month left to finally reach your goal yet suddenly you decide to give up? It’s such a waste of effort I would say.

    Hye Na. At first I thought she was good and she was and even better than Ye Seo but then her character developed and she turned into a fake one. She was nice with Ye Bin and Woo Joo just because she wanted to make Ye Seo jealous, but at the same time she threatened Seo Jin and Ye Seo, wanting to seek revenge just because she didn’t know her dad and her mom died. She should have stayed in her line and be a good girl, studied harder and compete with Ye Seo in a good manner, then tell her father the truth. Instead she wanted to take whatever Ye Seo had and that’s just toxic. Ye Seo and her mom didn’t kill her but she did because of her greed. Hadn’t she stayed in her line and done good, without going to Coach Kim, she wouldn’t have died like that.

    Lastly, I find it unfair for Ye Seo to take all the blame just to save Woo Joo. She worked hard these years but it was just that she dealt with the wrong person. She didn’t know the questions were stolen because she was told that the same teacher who did her practice questions was the same one who did the exam questions. It’s pretty common and I don’t think she should be punished like that. Even she didn’t know about it at all. They could have saved Woo Joo and Ye Seo as well.

    1. After reading all the above comments i was quite sad about how everyone wanted han seo jun to suffer more. It means that they did not really understand the character. They easily sympathized with hye na but could not understand han seo jin. I thought i wasn’t thinking rationally because i could understand ye seo and seo jin. But then i thought this can’t be judged based on that. Including my mother everyone wants their best for their children. And about ye seo even though she was selfish and rude she worked hard day and night. Till hye na’s death i tried very hard not to dislike her but i couldn’t. Her character had a drastic change. It’s fine to get revenge and all but scheming behind their back to destroy them is not a good thing. She could have communicated with her father fairly instead of being like that. When she was roaming the house so freely and screaming at housekeepers, i did not like that part. Her character was not that but it shows that how wild she is to get what she want.

  8. Interesting review! I think most of your opinions is quite different from mine, I feel like this “overly sweet” ending is actually fitting for the drama. It’s more satirical than an satisfying ending where they all met their ends.

    I would like to address a few things I felt! About all the families getting a “happy” ending and all feels very realistic to be honest. This whole Hye Na’s death incident wouldn’t have had as much impact if Hye Na wasn’t the daughter of Doctor Kang, and U-ju (the crush of Yeseo and a well-liked boy by everyone in the neighbourhood) was the one being framed. Because as you see, right after Hye Na died, everyone(except the Hwang family) moved on and only worried about their child. Nobody actually grieved for Hye Na besides Yebin and the Hwang family. And I think that’s the cruel nature of the characters they want to show you in the show from the very start, that all they care about is their own child. And the question that this show wanted to present to the audience was that, was it worth it and necessary to go to extreme lengths just to secure a “bright future” for your child? Even if it’s on the expense of other people’s lives?

    That’s why the other mum’s felt sympathetic and had great respect for what Seo-jin did. It may seem ridiculous to you as an audience (and maybe not a parent yourself yet), but to them Seo-jin sacrificed her own daughter’s future to save U-ju’s. To them who obsess over their own children’s future and academy records and certificates, that was something extremely honourable.

    It’s not like the Kang family turned over a new leaf and realized that they were a horrible person. They only realize that they were too obsessed with power and status and merely escaped the system of wanting only the best. Seo-jin didn’t even thought that she was treating Hye-Na unkindly until coach Kim told her in the prison. Never had the thought that she also drove Hye-Na to the corner and felt sorry for her actually crossed her mind. She immediately threw Hyena’s belongings and cleaned her room as if she’s a pest invading their house and wasn’t even affected by the fact that Hye-na died.

    The Cha family’s growth was the most satisfying imo, because Seung-hye went from a weak and stepped over character to a mother who was strong enough to stand against her husband for her child. But just like the other mother, she was very obsessed with her children’s studies as well, until Seri came back, that she realize that there was something wrong not only in the way her husband taught the children, but also in the way she raised them. Even though it seems like it might take time for Professor Cha’s mind to be changed, at least he did realize that he’s not as powerful as he thought he was, and that his wife is someone to be feared lolol.

    And I don’t think that it’s very unrealistic for Su-im to be kind and forgive Seo-jin, she’s never a very vengeful character nor does she holds grudge. Seo-jin steps over her line to critcize and attack Su-im several times in the entire show, yet the first person she goes over to whenever she found out something dangerous about coach Kim is Seo-jin. If she had been a petty or vengeful character she would’ve just sat by the side and watch everything unfold like Jin-jin. And even though she’s kind, she’s also not a bottomless pit who only have kindness and love to offer to everyone and won’t stand up for herself. I like that about her, I like that she’s strong and the only sane mother from the very beginning. I think her helping K is not that weird either, because even though Coach Kim was evil, K was innocent. She called K a poor daughter multiple times in the show, and she always had great empathy towards those in need, so I think it’s not that weird that she’d think of going to K to help her. To me the only pitiful thing about her character is that we didn’t see much from her and even though she was a big character in the beginning, her role became quite mild towards the end.

    And for Coach Kim’s character, I thought it’s quite self-explanatory that she was like that all along. She was raised in the system just like everyone else is in this show, and all she wanted was the best just like everyone else in the series. Which is why she couldn’t bare the fact that she destroyed not only her life but also her daughter’s that she wants to make other parents go through the same pain as her. Manipulating their greed and obsession. She knew that was her fault but she can’t bear that she was the only one that had to go through this pain that was why she was doing all these.

    Imo, the only mistake that Coach Kim made in her plan was making U-ju the scapegoat. Had she chose Seri in stead, she probably wouldn’t be caught. The Cha family might be torn apart, but Seo-jin and Ye-seo wouldn’t have cared as much and life might actually just move on as if Hye-na never existed. I think that was the scariest part in this whole drama. They only saw Myeong-Ju and Hye-na’s death as a tragic incident but nobody cared enough to let it affect them. They will just move on with their lives regardless.

    I don’t think the Kang family changed just because of Hye-na’s death and U-ju. But rather, for Seo-jin, things were already going downhill all along ever since Hye-na moved in. With Hye-na blackmailing her and Ye-seo turning against her, she already knew that she did something wrong. In the end, they only managed to get themselves out of that toxic obsession because they were able to give it up. But that was only for her family and those that witnessed their tragedy. The cycle still continues in this show and the education system will never change, Seo-jin was unlikeable but she’s not the only character in the world that would’ve done that. I don’t think it’s an overly sweet ending when you see it that way, I think the true message this drama wants to show you is in what Yang-U said, you can’t change the education system in this world, but you can save your child’s fate by raising them with love and elevating their stress. Try to not focus on only the goal and being in the top of the pyramid. I think the director and writer of the show wants to tell the audience that.

  9. To me i didn’t really like the last episode/ending, it would be better if 19 was the final ep. Also something i really hoped to see before the kdrama ends but they totally forget about it is that kang joon sang and whole family didn’t know kim hye na’s mother death which i think is important to take into account and kang joon sang’s regret when he didn’t respond her when she called him for his help. In general the kdrama was well done and was fun to watch but this part really bothered me.

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