After weeks of squeeing and bawling and all around madness, our journey with Nine has come to an end. Taking a 2012-overused device, the Nine team created a thrilling, heart-wrenching, broken, and ultimately love-worthy world populated by just as equally imperfect and moving people. From start to finish, we were left guessing and grasping at straws. We were taken to the greatest heights of giddiness, and then ruthlessly cast down to the deepest depths of darkness and despair. And, in the end, we were presented with a love that refused to be conquered – with a belief in oneself and in one’s love that refused to back down and instead dared to demand a happy ending.
Despite all the time traveling and incense stick burning and evil Dr. Choi hunting, what we ultimately have in Nine is a story of love. Everything started because of Sun-woo’s love for his family – for his brother and for his parents. Despite the betrayal he had felt as a child, he had continued to love his brother. And when he got the chance to bring happiness to Jung-woo’s life, he grabbed that chance with both hands and never let go. He did all that was in his power to piece his broken family back together. He fought for justice not because Choi Jin-chul deserved it – though he certainly did. Sun-woo spent all those years digging into the man’s background because it wasn’t just any evildoer committing everyday crimes – it was personal.
But what started as a crusade for his family became much more – so much more. It became a battle to reclaim the love of his life. A lot of people have complained that the emotions, the feelings, the passion is just not there between Sun-woo and Min-young. Any luffy moments are few and far in between, and it isn’t until the last few episodes that we get some solid sweet time. But it’s the idea of such a doomed love that really gets to me. With a single phone conversation, Sun-woo did for me what 50 episodes sometimes cannot do: break my heart.
Do you want to hear facts or fantasy? You want facts? When I heard that I was going to die soon, two thoughts entered my head. One was ‘Mother’. “Who will take care of my mom if I die? Oh no.” That thought. That was why I went in search of my brother – to ask him to take care of Mom.
The other was “If I die, I die – but before then, let’s film a hot bed scene with Joo Min-young,” or something along those lines. I was taken aback as well. There are so many beautiful women in the world. The models in my computer file “S”. It wasn’t the glamorous female announcers who flirted with me. I had no idea why I thought I wouldn’t be able to die in peace if I didn’t film a bed scene with Joo Min-young, whom I had never once thought was sexy.
What do I do, those are the facts? If you end up dating someone later, remember my words. If a guy tells you he’ll be content his whole life just seeing your smiling face, he’s a con man. If there’s a guy that says things like me, then marry him – because he’s a very honest man.
Are you disappointed? You want to hear fantasy? The past five years, Joo Min-young was only a dumb junior (hoo-bae) who had so much to learn but only knew how to act like a girl. But it was only when I learned that I was soon dying that I realized this: I had loved her all through those five years. I learned that I had never not loved her, even for a moment – but it was too late. So I wanted to spend my last few months with her, doing everything for her. I feared I would never see her bright smile again if she knew of my illness. That’s why I tried to keep it a secret. What’s so important about a stupid smile? I’m putting everything I have into making energy, but several times a day, I feel like crying. It’s not a stupid smile. It is everything to me right now.
In the beginning, it was the idea of too little too late. He had loved her for 5 years, but he didn’t realize the depth of his love until he had all of 6 months left to show her how much he loved her. And then it became a nightmare of a battle with his own self. It’s the same dilemma we see day in and day out, but it never loses its punch, nor does the solution ever become clearer. Do I fight for my own happiness? At the expense of others’? Or do I stay silent and let the world continue on its present course? And once one person learns the truth, do we both just keep calm and carry on? Or do we bite the bullet and charge forward?
I am still flummoxed with respect to the ending and I don’t think I’ll be figuring out anything anytime soon. If ever. I really ain’t a fan of open endings, and I was NOT pleased with the way things ended. Too many unanswered questions leaving me still in a doozy. But to be fair, I can appreciate the revisiting of the opening scene, where Jung-woo is lying in the snow in Nepal and a shadow falls over him. For the duration of the entire show, it was the one thing that really continued to remain in the back of my mind, and though I have noooo idea what in the world the big reveal means, I want to just skew everything and cram everything into ill-fitting boxes to create my happy ending.
Ultimately, that’s what the writers left us with in the end anyway. As our grown-up 1993 Sun-woo gets ready to fly out to Nepal (after learning that the 2013 Sun-woo died 20 years ago), he tells the 2013 Sun-woo (in narration):
…[T]hen “fantasy” must be the hope that I can rescue you and that Min-young won’t become unhappy because of me. If you were in my shoes, what would you have done? As for me, I want to make things as simple and clear as possible. So. Believe in the fantasies you want to believe in, and love the woman you want to love.
And that is why I want to believe that everyone got their happy ending. Our 1993 Sun-woo changed his future by refusing to change his past, by refusing to give in to the lure of the incense stick. And as for that wonky epilogue that I was waiting for? Ummm, that can be 2013 Sun-woo magically come back to life and rescuing his bro before racing off to get married so Min-young isn’t left standing at the altar. Logic be damned.