“Thirty Nine” Heartbreaking Ending Explained: Episode 12 [Finale] Recap And Review

Published Categorized as Kdrama Recaps

JTBC’s “Thirty Nine” has ended its run earlier today, here is a recap of its utterly heartbreaking ending.

Does Chae Young Die? When Does She Die?

Chae Young ends up dying towards the 2nd half of “Thirty Nine” episode 12. After collapsing due to the pain, she gets hospitalized but begs Mi Joo to help her back home because she hates being there, she gets discharged and spends the remainder of her days surrounded by her loved ones.

Her parents decide to leave her apartment and visit her once a week and let Jin Seok stay by her side because she seems so happy and comfortable to be with him.

On a night of a spring day, Chae Young passes away.

What happens to Chae Young and Jin Seok? Did they end up getting married?

Throughout “Thirty Nine” episode 12, Jin Seok tries to convince Chae Young to marry him but she refuses to do it. Why?

Because she believe it would taint her love towards him, he’s upset by it but of course, he doesn’t let it deter him from loving her and being by her side until her death.

After her death, he stays inside her apartment and continues to live there, he recalls what she’s told him before her death. [

How was Chae Young’s funeral handled?

Before her passing, Chae Young handed Mi Joo a list of people to invite to her funeral, she doesn’t want everyone to know about her death but the people she cares about. So Mi Joo decides to hold a celebration brunch, which is sort of a goodbye brunch, she was surrounded by her loved ones.

She got emotional while giving a speech thanking those who came to the celebration of her life.

As for Chae Young’s funeral, we aren’t shown much except for the fact that when it came to the casket (?) part, Mi Joo was so heartbroken and terrified that she couldn’t enter the room to say goodbye to her one last time.

What Happens To Chae Young’s Movie?

A while after her death, Chae Young’s movie with Siwan gets released. It becomes a huge hit. Everyone sees it except for Mi Joo who tells Joo Hee she feels so bad about not being there for the cremation part.

Since the movie became a huge hit, it aired in theaters for a while.

Did Cha Mi Joo And Kim Seon U Get Married?

Yes. While we’re not shown the scene, towards the end of “Thirty Nine” episode 12, Mi Joo says she’s preparing for her marriage with Seon U.

Seon U also meets his little sister and they exchange a conversation about his wedding preparations.

He tells her his dad is coming to meet her parents soon.

Did Cha Mi Joo End Up Adopting A Child?

Yes. Mi Joo ends up adopting a child from the orphanage where she was adopted herself. She goes to see Choi Hoon and tells him she’s likely getting married soon so she’ll move into a bigger house, she tells him, ‘so I wanted to tell you, how would you like to decorate your room?’ He hugs her.

What Happens Between Jang Joo Hee And Park Hyeon Jun?

The two are in a serious relationship and are happy together. Joo Hee now works as a nail technician and has opened a store right in front of her boyfriend’s restaurant.

When Mi Joo and Joo Hee visit Chae Young at her grave, they argue and Mi Joo tells her she should just propose to him, she retorts by mentioning their age difference but says they’re in a serious relationship. They tell Chae Young that Mi Joo is getting married.

What Happens To Kim So-Won?

She ends up going back to school. Seon U tells her his dad is coming to see Mi Joo’s parents and says she says it would be nice if he attends the recital, when Seon U asks if its okay he invites him, she nods with yes. Its hinted that So Won wants to rebuild her relationship with her adoptive father.

How Did “Thirty Nine” End?

“Thirty Nine” ends with the three friends spending the remaining time they have with Chae Young, before she passes away, she passes them certain ‘instructions’ or what you could label ‘guides’ to live their lives, some of which have to do with her parents, she asks her friends to look after her parents and asks Mi Joo to eat BBQ with Jin Seok.

Everyone ends up honoring her requests even after her death. Mi Joo continues to struggle and it turns out Chae young prepared a video gift for her and asks Joo Hee to give it to her when she sees Mi Joo is struggling a lot after her death.

They keep on living but they always miss her.

“Thirty Nine” ending- review

WOW! That was a difficult experience… I cried a lot, that was difficult to get through…. So prepare your tissues before going in.

I think the “Thirty Nine” finale was done well, especially considering what I’d label a rather lackluster drama all around. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the ending, but the process to get to that was excruciatingly slow and boring at times.

“Thirty Nine” ending kinda saved this drama, some dramas might become lackluster as time goes by but if they end it with a bang or end it well, I think it sort of forgives some of the writing issues it had. If a drama ending is just downright terrible [in general], the watching experience gets ruined for everyone.

Before I expand on my issues with the drama’s writing let me first say that I really enjoyed the way the ending was crafted. Also, I know many are sort of high from the happy news of the Binjin couple marriage, so please, if you feel like you’re going to get upset reading this, then don’t. I don’t dislike any actor in this drama and my issues rely mostly with the writing, issues I’ve had with it for the past couple of weeks, these are not conclusions I’ve came to just now, its been on my mind for a while and since it ended, I am voicing it.

I like the fact that they didn’t show the death scene of Chae Young specifically. It was already too heartbreaking, I think that part was done tastefully. Her death has been ‘teased’ and basically dragged since episode 1, a death scene on top of it would’ve been too much.

I also liked how they showed how the friends handle her departure, seeing glimpses of hope but also heartbreak and let me tell you this, it feels so true to how you’d deal with a loved one’s departure, it isn’t clear cut or a done deal nor it should be.

I also really liked that they threw a brunch celebrating her life with people she cares about, thats a terrific idea, and I saw many people in the comments say some terminally ill patients are doing this around the world. Its nice to celebrate the life someone has had.

I also liked that Mi Joo ended up adopting a child, that was a cute touch.

Now onto my final verdict regarding the drama. Overall, I’d consider “Thirty Nine” one of the most disappointing kdramas of 2022 thus far, I mean we’re only 3 months in but that will likely be my verdict not unless the year ends up giving us way worse projects in comparison.

The drama felt not only self-aggrandizing but terribly lacking in self-awareness. I spoke about its issues in the first half review and those issues became more apparent in the second half.

I say this because of many reasons, first, they focus way too much on Ye Jin’s character, I get she’s the lead but focusing too much on the way she personally handles the death of a friend for 12 episodes is too much. I get it, the character is sad but… there is a woman about to die in 6 months, where is your focus? It feels like the screenwriter did her best to prop up Ye Jin’s character all around, there is no issue in most cases but when we’re dealing with such topics, it comes off super odd and unintentionally selfish. If she wanted the focus to be mostly on Ye Jin, just make her the friend who was going to die, simple.

I also don’t like the way Chae Young has been handled as a character. Jeon Mi Do does the best she could with the material she’s given but the character is difficult to like, its not someone you’d easily sympathize with. I don’t understand why the screenwriter went out of her to make her so unlikeable when there was about 10 different better ways to have written her character arc, ways that wouldn’t compromise our likeness to her character.

In my humble opinion, “Thirty Nine” as a project seems so darn impressed with its self so much so that it appears so fake, at least in my eyes, it feels self-aggrandizing as I’ve stated before. Don’t get me wrong, it has many nice moments here and there but they do not make up for the way it was written nor for how boring it got towards the end.

In my previous reviews, I said 12 episodes was too much for “Thirty Nine,” I firmly stand by that, for such a sensitive topic, it shouldn’t be dragged on for this long, it cheapens the message its trying to send. 8 would’ve been amazing. When it feels like you’re milking a character’s death to prop up another character, it makes me… not like your writing…. Just a thought.

This is why I’d consider “Thirty Nine” an overall disappointing kdrama, I say that because I expected it to be better in terms of writing, way better.

Regardless of that, thank you to the cast and crew of “Thirty Nine” and congrats to Binjin once again.

So these are my thoughts on “Thirty Nine” ending, so what about you guys? did you like the episodes? let me know what you thought in the comment section below.

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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~

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