Reunited Worlds: Episodes 39-40 (Final)
It’s time to say goodbye to the wonderful family we’ve gotten to know through the eyes of a boy whose life and death became a miracle. Hae-sung’s story leaves us with the reminder that no matter how bad things get, nothing is more important than cherishing those around us. Reunited Worlds may be far from a perfect drama, but it’s a beautiful love letter to the power of love, and how it can change even the worst of circumstances for the better.
EPISODE 39 RECAP
Hae-sung begins to fade away, and he, Min-joon, and Jung-won all grow terrified that this is it. But Hae-sung solidifies again, and he hugs Jung-won and reassures her that he’s okay.
They’re both still shaken when they get back to Jung-won’s apartment. She throws her arms around Hae-sung in a backhug, saying that they don’t have much time left. She asks if he remembers her wishing on a shooting star, revealing that her wish was to live happily with him forever.
She turns Hae-sung to face her and asks if he thinks her wish will come true, and he just gives her a sad smile. They sit on the couch, and Jung-won pats her leg, so Hae-sung lays his head in her lap. Jung-won says, “Let’s love each other passionately with the time we have left.”
Hae-sung softly thanks her for making a lot of good memories with him. He whispers, “I love you,” but Jung-won doesn’t hear him clearly and asks him to repeat himself. He just smiles and says she looks prettier from this angle.
They make some bibimbap, and over their meal, Hae-sung tells Jung-won clearly this time, “I love you.” Without a moment’s hesitation, Jung-won replies, “I love you, too.”
They’re unaware that Dong-seok has taken Gong-ju, and that he’s currently at the bus terminal, promising to send her to her daddy. He takes a call from Yoo-min, who’s with Ho-bang and Hae-chul after their failed attempt to catch Dong-seok.
Dong-seok tells her to put him on speakerphone, which she does after setting the call to record. He tells Hae-chul and Ho-bang that if he sees them before boarding his plane out of the country, that they’ll never see Gong-ju again. He promises to tell them where she is once his plane takes off, then hangs up.
Dong-seok buys two tickets to Busan, but when the bus leaves, Gong-ju is on it alone. She’s asleep, and by Dong-seok’s smirk, I’m guessing he probably drugged her.
Hae-sung and Jung-won run to the police station the moment they hear that Dong-seok took Gong-ju. Hae-chul tells them what Dong-seok said on the phone, and Jung-won realizes that as an American citizen, once he boards his plane, there’s nothing they can do.
Hae-sung listens to the recording of the phone call, focusing his ultra-sensitive hearing to try and find a clue. In the background, he can hear a woman buying tickets to Busan, so he tells Ho-bang that Dong-seok was at the bus terminal and that he’s probably sent Gong-ju to Busan.
Luckily, the police are able to stop the bus, and Hae-chul finds Gong-ju scared but safe. Meanwhile, Dong-seok gets to the airport, but Ho-bang manages to intercept him. Tae-hoon and Jung-won are there too, and they confront Dong-seok, with Tae-hoon demanding that he confess.
Dong-seok tells them to let him go or they’ll never see Gong-ju again, but Tae-hoon informs him that Gong-ju is already safe with her parents. Cornered, Dong-seok admits that he was near the art room that night twelve years ago, but he claims that he witnessed Hae-sung kill Kyung-chul.
He goes pale as he hears Hae-sung’s voice say, “I didn’t kill Kyung-chul.” He sees Hae-sung standing in front of him, and at the sight of the boy who died over a decade ago, Dong-seok’s legs give out, and he crumples to the floor. Hae-sung asks how Dong-seok could have seen him kill Kyung-chul when he’s not guilty, and he even threatens to ask Kyung-chul himself.
It’s an empty threat, but Dong-seok doesn’t know that. He jumps up and makes a run for it, stealing a car outside the airport terminal. Ho-bang appropriates another car and races after him, with Hae-sung riding along.
Dong-seok leads Ho-bang and Hae-sung through the streets, but before he gets very far, he slams into another vehicle in an intersection, causing his car to flip over before skidding to a halt. He’s trapped inside, and when Hae-sung approaches the car, he asks Dong-seok one more time for the truth.
Ho-bang warns that the car could explode, but Hae-sung coldly tells Dong-seok that they’ll just be going if he has nothing to say. He looks as if he’s truly prepared to walk away and leave Dong-seok there, even as Dong-seok screams and begs for help.
Hae-sung turns back and yells that because Dong-seok killed his friend and let Hae-sung take the blame, his friends and family have been suffering for years. Ho-bang grows more concerned about an explosion and Dong-seok starts to scream louder, apologizing for everything.
With little effort, Hae-sung rips the door off the car and pulls Dong-seok free. The three of them run away just in time, as the car becomes a blazing fireball.
Hae-sung barely stops to recover before he grabs Dong-seok by the collar, and Dong-seok asks why Hae-sung saved his life. Hae-sung says that Dong-seok can do one last thing for him: “Tell the world that I’m innocent, so that my siblings and friends can let go of the anger and resentment in their hearts.”
Dong-seok breaks down and admits that he and Kyung-chul had a fight, and that he killed him. Ho-bang places him under arrest as Hae-sung sighs with relief that his ordeal is over.
Hae-sung and his siblings watch the news report about Dong-seok’s arrest and the restoration of Hae-sung’s good name. They talk about how everything will be great now that Hae-sung has been proven innocent, Soo-ji is well, and Jung-won’s book will be published, and they’ve even been brought Gong-ju home.
Hae-sung gives Jung-won a nod, and she takes Gong-ju out for ice cream, leaving Hae-sung alone with his siblings. He tells them, without any sugarcoating, that he has to go back soon. He says that his time here was short, but that being with them again made him happy.
He adds that he doesn’t want them to be sad, and to let go of their resentment now that they no longer have to live as a murderer’s siblings. They all tear up, and Hae-sung says with a brave smile that he doesn’t know how much time he has left, but that he wants to make the most of it.
Later, Hae-sung goes outside to find CEO Cha waiting for him. He bursts into tears and apologizes to Hae-sung for only thinking of protecting Tae-hoon and for harming Hae-sung’s family in the process. He vows to turn himself in, but Hae-sung tells him to leave things as they are.
He says that CEO Cha doesn’t deserve forgiveness, but that he doesn’t want anyone to suffer anymore. He tells CEO Cha to spend the rest of his life atoning for the harm he caused, and only then will he be forgiven.
CEO Cha starts by telling Tae-hoon that he has an older brother. He takes Tae-hoon to see Min-joon, then Tae-hoon leaves to give them some privacy. Min-joon is shocked to learn that his father apologized to Hae-sung, and that he told Tae-hoon about him. CEO Cha’s voice catches on the words, “You’re my son,” and he apologizes for hiding Min-joon’s existence all these years.
As word gets out that Hae-sung is innocent, his friends and family begin to get calls from old acquaintances to congratulate them. Hae-sung admits to feeling guilty for what his siblings went through because of him, so Jung-won suggests that they go on a trip together, just the family. Hae-sung thanks her and makes her pinky-swear that she’ll be okay until he comes home.
Hae-sung, Hae-chul, Young-in, and Soo-ji rent a cabin to spend some time together. They’re surprised to see Young-joon there, looking sheepish but happy to see them. They prepare a cookout and take pictures to commemorate being together again.
Over dinner, Hae-chul entertains the siblings with his impression of Hae-sung being bossy in the kitchen. Young-joon jokes that being bossy was always Hae-sung’s specialty, making everyone laugh, except Young-in. She bursts into tears, which sets off Hae-chul, and soon, all four of Hae-sung’s siblings are crying at the thought of losing him all over again.
Hae-sung quietly takes Gong-ju from the table to give his family some privacy. Gong-ju asks if Hae-sung is leaving, but he promises her that he’s not going anywhere, barely holding back his own tears.
EPISODE 40 RECAP
One morning after Hae-sung gets back, he makes Jung-won breakfast in bed, and they talk about their plans for the day. Jung-won complains that they only do normal things like have coffee and go for walks, but Hae-sung says that sharing their simple daily lives is what makes him happy.
Their friends gather that afternoon, and Ho-bang and Jin-ju announce that they’re getting married. Tae-hoon tells everyone that he and Young-in are dating again, prompting Hae-sung to say that he’s lucky to have friends that make him so happy. They all get choked up when he gives them little bits of life advice and tells them to be well, knowing he won’t be there to share their futures.
Ho-bang suggests they take a picture together, and they all struggle to look happy for Hae-sung’s sake. The picture turns out well, looking a lot like the one they all took together so long ago, back in school.
Jung-won takes Hae-sung to a bookstore to surprise him with her new book. He couldn’t be prouder of her, and she makes him cry when she directs him to read the dedication, which says, “For my love, Hae-sung.” He reads the book right there in the store, smiling when he recognizes their moments that she included in her story.
Hae-sung buys a copy, which he gives to Grandmother, and she grumbles that Jung-won always drew pictures to criticize her, so it’s probably not any good, ha. Hae-sung tells Grandmother that he’ll miss her criticisms, and she refuses to allow him to say goodbye.
Next, he takes a copy of Jung-won’s book to Min-joon, who’s happy that Jung-won has found her true calling. Min-joon tells Hae-sung that he’s postponed his trip to Paris, though he denies that it’s because of Hae-sung. Hae-sung tells Min-joon that he’s happy and thankful that he got to come back and meet him, and the two share one last hug.
That evening, Hae-sung finds Ho-bang at the pojangmacha getting methodically drunk and looking miserable. He says that he worries the most about Ho-bang, and that he feels like he owes him. He tells him that just the sound of his name has always made him feel secure, and Ho-bang starts to cry.
Hae-sung tells his friend to be happy, taking his hand and promising that when they meet again, he’ll repay Ho-bang for everything he’s done for him. Ho-bang can barely speak through his tears, but he manages to sob, “Yes, let’s meet again.”
On a beautiful sunny day, Hae-sung and Jung-won visit their hometown and ride their bikes through the fields they used to play in as kids. They stop at their tree and remember the times they’ve spent here together.
Hae-sung takes a ring out of his pocket, reminding Jung-won of the time he gave her a “ring” made of a beer can tab. He says, “Let’s love each other forever,” then slides the ring on her finger. They smile at each other, happy and in love… then Hae-sung begins to fade.
Instead of looking afraid, Hae-sung grows calm as he nods that he’s okay. He starts to turn away, but Jung-won grabs his hand and stops him, and he takes her in his arms for one final hug. They pull apart, Jung-won nods, and Hae-sung slowly, slowly steps away from her, their fingers touching until the very last moment.
They turn their backs to each other, and Hae-sung says softly, “Jung-won-ah, I think it’s time now. From the moment I met you until now, I’ve loved you.” As he starts fading again, he adds, “I’ll always love you. Don’t be sad. Jung-won-ah, remember me.”
But Jung-won says that she won’t do that: “From now on, I’ll love you, forever.”
With an expression of utter peace on his face, Hae-sung looks up at the sky and says, “Jung-won-ah, I was happy that I could love you again.” She thanks him for enabling her to love again, and he answers in a dreamy, faraway voice, “Be well. I love you.”
Jung-won tells him that she loves him, and that they’ll be together again someday. But he doesn’t answer, and when she turns around, he’s gone.
Jung-won looks up to see a star streaking across the blue sky. She sinks to the ground and cries.
Soon after, Jung-won holds her first book signing, and she’s surprised and pleased when Min-joon shows up to have her sign the copy that Hae-sung gave to him. He tells her that he dreams of Hae-sung often, which he takes as a sign that Hae-sung is doing well. Jung-won wishes him well in Paris, and they make plans to visit Hae-sung when he gets back.
One year later.
Jung-won visits the tree where she last saw Hae-sung, and she tells him that everyone is still happy because of the memories he left them. She says that Hae-chul finally named the restaurant “5 Brothers and Sisters,” which has become famous for its good food.
Soo-ji is doing well and has been accepted to college. Hae-chul and Yoo-min have reconciled, and they live with Gong-ju in the same building as Jung-won. Tae-hoon and Young-in are getting married soon, and his parents have accepted her and seem to look forward to having her as a daughter-in-law.
Young-joon is back working at the hospital, and he and Seo-won have gotten back together. Ho-bang and Jin-ju are still disgustingly in love, and Moon-shik is… still Moon-shik.
Jung-won tells Hae-sung that Min-joon has gotten very famous since returning from Paris, and we see him giving a television interview. He credits his success to a friend who stayed with him during his toughest times: “A friend who came to me like a miracle, and left like a vanishing season.”
As for herself, Jung-won says that she lives every day to the fullest, still feeling lucky for the miracle that Hae-sung gave to her. She thinks, “I miss you, Hae-sung,” and a soft wind blows by. She looks and sees Hae-sung standing in the spot where she last saw him, smiling at her.
He steps forward and takes her hand, and they turn to look at the sky together.
We’ve known for a long time that Hae-sung would have to leave again, and although I had no reason to believe that he would find a way to stay, I was still sad to see him go. I don’t interpret that final scene as him coming back again, but as Jung-won imagining that he’s there with her whenever she misses him. But it’s good to know that when the time came, Hae-sung was ready and unafraid, because he’d had enough time to say a proper goodbye to his family and friends, and to tell Jung-won that he loved her. And even better is that she was ready, so even though she’ll always miss him and grieve for him, she was able this time to let Hae-sung go with love and peace in her heart. Their goodbye was heartbreaking and beautiful, but I’m happy that they were both able to let go with no regrets.
I actually don’t mind that we never really knew all the rules and reasons for Hae-sung’s return and why he had superhuman abilities — in his case, he was able to use them to catch the real killer and give his family justice. But not every person who returns comes back for such a violent reason, and they all have such powers. We can guess that Hae-sung was allowed to return so that he could right some terrible wrongs and enable his loved ones to let him go with easier hearts, but many people die and don’t get that chance, and we’ll never know what made Hae-sung’s situation special. But if this were a real phenomenon, there would be no easy answers, so I’m okay with the fact that Hae-sung and his friends and family will never really know why he was one of the lucky ones.
I surprised myself by actually liking the way Dong-seok’s part of the story was wrapped up. An exploding car isn’t exactly unique territory, but I loved how Hae-sung used the shock of his being back from the dead to frighten a confession out of Dong-seok. It was satisfying to see the man who would kill a friend and let someone else take the blame for it, then kidnap a little girl to use as leverage, cowering and begging for mercy to the very person he wronged. On the other hand, I think CEO Cha got off way too easy, as if a mere apology will make up for years of lies about killing a young boy, blaming him for a murder, and letting his family suffer for years. Not to mention a lifetime of ignoring and scorning his firstborn son, who is an amazing person despite his terrible father. I would have liked to see what prompted CEO Cha’s change of heart, since last we saw, he was vowing to Min-joon that he would never apologize. But at least he seems to be making the effort to change, so it’s a start.
I also appreciated how Min-joon and Jung-won reconnected at the end, because if nothing else, they have a solid friendship and a connection through someone they both loved very much. Min-joon was one of my favorite characters, as I’ve said often, and I credit the character for renewing my faith in Ahn Jae-hyun as an actor. He played Min-joon with a lot of sensitivity and sweetness, and although he’s still a bit green, he made me love the character so much that I wouldn’t even mind if Min-joon eventually got the girl. I’m glad that Hae-sung gave up his idea of passing Jung-won off to Min-joon as if she needs a man to take care of her, but I like to imagine that years down the line, Min-joon and Jung-won might give a deeper relationship a shot.
But the real star was Yeo Jin-gu, who gave his usual incredible performance as Hae-sung, and who continues to be one of the few actors who can make me cry over and over again. Hae-sung was a truly special soul, and Yeo Jin-gu was able to show a nuanced performance as he dealt with a situation that no teenager should ever have to face. To shoulder the responsibility of changing the lives of his entire family, not to mention catching a killer, all while facing the specter of his own mortality would break the strongest of men, but Hae-sung faced his challenges fearlessly and never forgot that his main purpose for being alive was to love. I can’t imagine any actor but Yeo Jin-gu being capable of playing a role like Hae-sung as well as he did, and it’s exciting to think that as young as he is, he still has so many years to grow and mature in his skills and deliver more amazing performances like this one.
As many flaws and inconsistencies as Reunited Worlds has, and they are many, the one thing it’s done right is how it’s portrayed relationships and explored what it means to love others. I’ve enjoyed watching the relationships between all of the characters grow and change, as Hae-sung taught them that the most important thing in life is to love and cherish one another. He was always the one who brought happiness and security to every one of the people whose lives he touched, and the biggest tragedy of his death was the loss of that constant, unwavering love he gave to everyone he knew. In losing him to just tragic circumstances, Hae-sung’s family and friends had forgotten how important they were to each other, and I believe that that’s the real reason he came back. Hae-sung’s return served to remind them that we never know how much time we have together, so we should love each other while we can.