“The Last Empress” Ending Explained- Episode 16 Recap

Published Categorized as Kdrama Recaps

“The Last Empress” final episode [episode 26]] has aired today on February 21st, here is its recap and the ending explained

The popular drama aired its first episode on November 21st, due to its popularity was extended to 26 episodes instead of 24, this is why the last episodes aired this week instead.

As it was previously reported, lead actor Choi Jin Hyuk was not present for the final episodes due to his extremely busy schedule and prior commitments and as a result his character was killed off.

His character’s absence was noticed in the final episode.

“The Last Empress” episode 16 recap

Oh Sunny wakes up a week after the accident, at first her husband, the emperor lies to her and tells her that Na Wang Sik was the perpetrator behind and says,

“We have put an APB across the Korean empire.”

He promised her he would submit the letter to the investigation and will go through it.

Empress Dowager Kang holds a press conference and puts the blame on her son; she places all the blame on him. She tells him he needs to sacrifice for the imperial family and must take on the punishment.

She promises him she’ll hire the best lawyer so he can serve minimum time in jail.

Emperor Hyuk hid Na Wang Sik’s body away, so his mother was still under the impression that he could possibly still be alive and onto her.

Due to his sense of guilt, Emperor Hyuk takes on the identity of Na Wang Sik. He covers himself in bandage and goes to the island to expose his mother’s wrongdoings.

After Emperor Hyuk visits the island to witness the horrors some prisoners were put through among other things, he is chased away by guards. He sustains some injuries.

Empress Dowager Kang is told Na Wang Sik is still alive and has visited the island. She leaves to the island to set a trap and take care of him herself.

Empress Sunny goes to the secret garden to retrieve evidence and set a trap for Empress Dowager Kang right-hand man Mr. Pyo, there Min Yura awaits and injects him with poison.

They tell him he has 10 minutes to confess to Empress Dowager Kang crimes and what he assisted her with, he eventually caves in and admits to many crimes which were recorded on a device.

The antidote he was promised is destroyed by Min Yura, he starts choking and while the girls escape he swings a brick at Sunny and hits Min Yura instead. The brick gravely injures her head.

Min Yura tells Sunny to go on and hand the evidence in, she also tells her that she is not upset, she only defended her and did all of this because she wanted to take her revenge and payback for her crimes.

When Empress Sunny calls Teacher Byun to share more details, he tells her that Na Wang Sik’s body was buried next to his mothers’. Empress Sunny cries after finding out Emperor Hyuk hid the truth from her, she goes to his room to confront him but when she barges into his room she finds towels soaked in blood, she goes to the island to look for him.

She believes he is trying to do something on his own despite his injuries.

Empress Dowager Kang is told by her assistant that Mr. Pyo can’t be reached; she believes he has been hunt down by Na Wang Sik, she asks the assistant to shut down the lab and take care of everything.

They try not to leave a trace behind and set it on fire; they also set the cages holding prisoners on fire. Emperor Hyuk barges in; he breaks the sells open to save them.

He is combated by his own mother’s men; he tries to escape but reaches a place he can’t find an exit from. His mother and her men surround him, she tells them to shoot him, but then retract her words and takes the gun from one of the men. She shoots her own son under the belief he’s Na Wang Sik.

Empress Sunny arrives just in time to see Emperor Hyuk getting shot; she tries to call out for the mother but is held captive by the men. After she shot him she goes there to see his face, when she finds out he’s her son, she screams on the top of her lungs.

She refuses to accept the fact that she shot her own son and instead blames him for disguising as Na Wang Sik. Sunny yells at her, “do you still call yourself a mother?”

Empress Dowager Kang then points the gun at her and attempts to shoot her before she is dragged away by the guards and her assistant after they find out the police have arrived.

Emperor Hyuk delivers one final emotional message to Sunny while dying, he tells her,

“I wasn’t a good emperor or husband. I am sorry.

I lived in your mother’s place but this is all I amounted to. I am sorry for that as well.

If we had met under different circumstances… it would have been nice. had we met as regular people…. I wouldn’t have hurt you as much as I did.

But thank you, for marrying someone like me, and for helping me love. I love you, Sunny.”

Sunny begs him to survive; she tells him to live and beg for forgiveness and says,

“If you die I won’t forgive you.”

Unfortunately, he dies in her hands before the ambulance arrives.

Empress Dowager Kang heads back to the castle, she takes out her possessions and tells her daughter to take them with her and hide them well. However, Seo Kang Hee escapes the prison and confronts her.

Their confrontation doesn’t end well, they fight each other and get into a blaming game, they blame each other for everything wrong they’ve done. Unfortunately for them, the police and press were eavesdropping and as soon as they left the room, they were arrested.

Princess Sojin hands the police her mother’s belongings and yells at her, she tells her mother to snap back to reality and pay for her crimes. She collapses after finding out that her brother has died as well.

After Empress Dowager Kang, Seo Kang Hee and the empress other assistant are arrested the public is outraged by her crimes. Some of them oppose the continuation of the imperial family while others vote in favor of it because of Empress Sunny.

Empress Sunny holds a press conference in which she explains Grand Empress Dowager Jo death was a suicide, she shows them the suicide letter and explains why.

She promises (in the power invested in her) to punish everyone who has committed crimes within the imperial family, she also states that they’ll follow the imperial auditors’ decision to abolish the imperial family.

During the trial, Empress Dowager Kang and Seo Kang Hee are both sentenced to death while Choi Yoon Mi (the other assistant) is sentenced to life in prison. Empress Dowager promises to fight till the end for her innocence while Seo Kang Hee accepts her punishment, she asks Sunny to let her see Ari one last time.

Sunny takes Ari to see her mother; however, Ari doesn’t remember her mother because she had collapsed following the news. Due to high fever and mental stress, the little girl forgot all about her mother and refused to talk to her, she is escorted outside the room.

Seo Kang Hee assures Sunny she’ll accept her punishment and asks her to take care of her daughter, Ari.

The drama jumps to one year later, Sunny is back at her father’s restaurant sporting a bob cut. Ari is a normal girl living a normal life struggling with normal kids issues. She visits the place that once was the imperial family home.

After taking a tour around the palace, she sees her mother’s figure telling her,

 “Are you happy now? That is all I need.”

In one year span, the imperial system was abolished and a new democratic country was set, a new president has also been appointed.

It also turns out Min Yura did not die; in fact, she survived the major hit to her head. However, she has lost her memory. She now lives with her son and takes care of him, but she doesn’t know he’s her son.

Netizens reactions to the ending are mostly negative. A lot of netizens were unimpressed with the ending, many comments says that Yura’s memory loss was unnecessary while others say they wished the Hyuk and Sunny ended up together.

There are some netizens who also found the ending to be justified.

What did you think of the ending? Did you like it? Would you recommend “The Last Empress”?

By Jass K.

Hi, I am Jass k. the founder of Jazminemedia, in this site, I discuss some of the hottest currently airing kdramas, and if you have any requests for a kdrama review, please let me know in the comment section of any article.


  1. i cannot accept the ending…
    its too sad .i hope they can make more episodes
    of it and i think they leave a cliphanger to the viewers so we are dying to know more about this story …but im well satisfied.

  2. Heist, i can’t sleep, it hurts me seeing the ending.. it could be any of the two great actors could have live a happy ending with the empress.. but congrats everyone, they are all the best!

  3. I enjoyed the ending but I did feel like it was rushed. I didn’t like how Na Wang Sik’s story ended, but I understand that the actor had other obligations. I also liked how the Emperor got a chance to redeem himself in Sunny’s eyes, his character was a well-written villain that you feel sympathy for. I did not understand the point of Yura’s memory loss…but at least Na Wang Sik’s brother has a new family to take care of him. Oh, and my favorite little Princess, she stole every scene that she was in! Overall, no show is perfect, but I really enjoyed this show, and I’m such a fan of Nara!

  4. Very disappointed, I would have recommended this drama on my blog, however I honestly can’t. After building up a connection with Wan Shik then he is left out from the last episodes (not 1 but 3 episodes!) – that totally bummed, they should have at least done some flashback, show her mourn for him or something… totally disappointed with this ending.

  5. At first i rooted for this drama because of cjh. I did not expect nws will end up with sunny, but very disappointed by how an intelligent and strong guy character like nws end up to die just like that. While the other characters still have happy ending, very unfair for nws. At least he should lead a new life with his little brother.

  6. the most hurt thing is how that the empress doesn’t have any impression when she knows that Na Wang Shik has dead! it’s really confusing ! how they could end all his struggling and his outstanding role with such bullshit rush! he just dead with no sound or respect or account! and what happened to all the imperial family victims he helped with money, it seems in most of times that he is the one who guides the drama with his revenge plan! at least they must have showed some respect and account to his big role at the end! no body even remembered at the end, even dong Shik or Oh Sunny, although he was saving her life all the drama.How we could imagine Sunny succeed at the end without him?! It’s totally a miss managed END!

  7. I was very disappointed at the end.. I felt bad for the emperor. Finally he realized all his mistakes and his love for sunny but could not make up to her.. I really loved sunny and hyuk.. I wished it would have a happy ending if hyuk and sunny ended up together.. But to my disappointment he died. I would like to see them together either in season 2 if they are planning to take or to see them in any other new project in lead.

  8. I enjoyed The Last Empress I watched it via YouTube with English subtitles I was obsessed .
    I found enjoyed how the storyline entwined it’s characters thus making it interesting & kept my interest.
    Following his mother shooting Hyuk maybe Sunny could to bring him back to life with blood group AB so they end up together & bring up Ari & go onto have other children to make up for the poor abusive childhood Hyuk had & name a child Na Wang.

  9. I don’t like it…. But it’s a good movie though… She should have ended up with hyuk after everything ….the two main male actors can’t die

  10. This would have been a great series if they hadn’t sidelined Na Wang shik or Chun woo bin. Ahh!.. He was the main character for pete’s sake!.. The Empress portrays the typical worldly woman who forgets about you the minute she stops benefiting from you. So ungrateful!.. Not even a tear for the man who saved your life?!.. WOMEN!.. They’re not worth dying for!

  11. This is so bad,d emperor don’t suppose to die,he supposed av a gud ending with d sunny please do season 2 by allowing d emperor to come back all lesd this film is nonsense

  12. Chin woo bin shouldn’t have died.
    And I was hoping an happy ending between him and the empress
    Yu Ra shud have die jejeli and worili
    Even tho the emperor portrayed a bad villain, I didn’t want him to die….
    Good starting, bad finishing

  13. I am one year late to have watched this…searching for the reasons why Na Wang Sik’s character was like that in the end, and hoping him to re appear in the very end. How disappointing for his character to just end like that. Oh well….

  14. It is a great drama. But I am too very dissapointed with the final two episodes. Infact I am angry with the producers. They got two things very wrong. The central character, the reason why there was a story in the first place, is because of the character ‘Na Wang Shik’. He wasn’t even mentioned in the last scenes as if he never existed. While it would have been nice to see Na Wang Shik survive to the end for the sake of Sunny Oh, I understand good characters sometimes has to die as well. That is the reality. But damn it, his character should have been given justice during the final scenes of the drama. No one grieved for him. No one mentioned him. No one had his memories. There could have been a scene at his grave. Memories of him could have been revisited as Oh Sunny went through the palace one last time as empress. Again in the scenes one year later. In the end all the emotions were drawn to the Emperor. I like the way it ended up for the emperor including his heroism, repentance and his love for the empress. But Na Wang Shik should have survived the bomb, and the Emperor should have arranged for his treatment. And of course take Na Wang Shik’s place as he did. Na Wan Shik could have appeared in the scene one year later, having recovered.

    No one seems to have seen this, but for me they also got Min Yu-Ra character wrong. First 90% of the story she had only one ambition, and that was of greed and power and would remove anyone stopping her including people who were closest to her. Suddenly the producers had changed her character just for the final episodes. And they have got it all wrong. Her ending character does not go at all with what she really is. I am sure this was not the way her character was to end. I am sure her getting raped, or her bf dissapearing was not the reason she came to the palace. It is only for power. That is the only way you can justify her killing of Na Wang Shik’s mother, trying to kill Na Wang Shik and even disowning her child.

    I believe both these mistakes were made because there was a last minute extension of the story to add four more episodes from original plan. When you make these sudden changes, carefully laid plot end up all wrong.

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