Bitter Sweet Hell – K-drama Episode 12 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

Episode 12

Episode 12 of Bitter Sweet Hell begins with Sa-gang and Young-won discussing Se-na and how her narcissistic personality and associated “tantrums” might help them locate her. This is when Young-won decides not to follow Se-na’s instruction of reading from the script.

While Young-won is at the conference, Sa-gang meets with Tae-o and deceitfully records a confession about Se-na’s crimes on her phone. In the meantime, Se-na’s face is revealed to the public.

While she’s at the convenience store, stacking up grocery items she’d need while hiding from the public, she spots Do-hyeon with So-yi. She kidnaps him when he’s alone and takes him to a basement room where she sets the stage for a disaster.

She calls Young-won, telling her to meet at the vacation house, threatening to blow up the place where Do-hyeon is with a press of a button on her phone. While Young-won momentarily panics, the Choi family decides to search all the possible places Do-hyeon could be since Se-na “doesn’t play a game that cannot be solved.”

After consulting their family private investigator Jung Doo-Man, Young-won proceeds towards the vacation house while Jae-jin checks all possible areas at the orphanage.

Young-min and Seung-jae go to Se-na’s property that she inherited from one of her husbands, and Kang-sung and Sa-gang proceed towards her family home. After not finding any clues for a while, Young-won ends up entering the vacation house, which is drenched with petroleum.

She meets with Se-na and engages her in a conversation, explaining her changed perspective about what a family is. She adds that it’s not Se-na’s fault but her obsessive tendencies and understanding of love, and Young-won offers to extend a helping hand.

Meanwhile, Sa-gang comes across the basement where Do-hyeon is, and Kang-sung tries to get him out from behind a locked door.

At the same time, Se-na realizes that Young-won had been trying to gaslight her and presses the button, causing the basement at Se-na’s family home to explode. In a scuffle, a fire starts at the vacation house.

While Young-won is completely out of her mind at the prospect of Do-hyeon’s death, Jae-jin arrives at the vacation house. He receives a call about Do-hyeon’s safety and conveys the news to Young-won. Se-na realizes that she has lost.

Young-won tries to hold on to her and extends her a helping hand, but Se-na decides to kill herself in the fire and starts dancing among the flames, eventually burning in them. Young-won loses consciousness and wakes up at a hospital to find Do-hyeon fine and her family waiting for her.

Dr. Oh also visits the family but in a manic state and attempts to kill Sa-gang. However, Sa-gang manages to pacify her, and Dr. Oh falls unconscious. In a separate room, Dr. Oh confesses to Sa-gang that all she wanted was to be a part of Sa-gang’s family. She wanted to be loved.

Sa-gang apologizes to her for taking advantage of her feelings, and they embrace. Young-won and Jae-jin decide to pursue what they each like without devoting their lives to something or someone. While visiting her mother, Young-won finds that Sa-gang had been visiting her mother.

Back at the Choi residence, Sa-gang reveals that she’s leaving the house since she wants their family to live their lives as they want without any pressure. “Perhaps, the true meaning of love is just to watch the other person,” she adds. Later, she leaves for an unknown destination that she doesn’t even disclose to her own son.

A year later, Young-won has quit her job and now works as a counselor at the prison. The real culprit behind the sexual assault and embezzlement case that Young-won’s father had been accused of has also been caught by the police. She visits Tae-o and encourages him to begin studying again. Their relationship seems to have improved.

Jae-jin had undergone a disciplinary hearing where he surrendered his license and claimed responsibility for the ghost surgery practice at his clinic. He has opened a shelter for abandoned dogs. So-yi has been working at Young-won’s restaurant managed by her secretary. Do-hyeon is studying abroad and has a partner.

Dr. Oh has become Jae-jin’s clinic’s director, and Kyung-tae is finally in a healthy relationship with her. Young-min and Seung-jae are running Kang-sung’s restaurant.

At the bookstore, Young-won comes across Sa-gang’s latest thriller novel based on their family’s encounter with Se-na. From the hints in the book, Young-won finally finds Sa-gang deep within the snow-covered woods, living on a mountain with Kang-sung.

After Young-won leaves, she realizes how families are not perfect and that “their problem is what the standard of being ‘well’ is… I get it. There is no such thing as a broken family. There are just bad expectations.

Our family has decided to be free from those bad expectations and practice being strangers. Love will not end even if our family is separated. And if anyone asks if my family is well, I can answer that question with a lot of lightheartedness.” As the episode ends, Young-won concludes with, “Slipping down wasn’t so bad.”


The Episode Review

The Episode Review: What a fantastic finale! Sure, Bitter Sweet Hell had its ups and downs with some episodes better than the rest, but this finale ties everything together so well that it enhances our understanding of what the entire series has been about.

It’s a mystery thriller, yes, with its dramatic moments and curious cliffhangers, but more than that, the show has been highlighting the moral of the story: “There is no such thing as a broken family. There are just bad expectations.”

After the finale, the characters and their motives make much more sense than while the series was figuring out its course of action in the early episodes.

The relationship between Young-won and Sa-gang is extremely touching and unconventional. It breaks the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law stereotype that has prevailed in society for a very long time, and it strongly consolidates a feminist message of sisterhood, encouraging others to follow a similar path.

As a conversation between Sa-gang and Young-won goes:

Sa-gang: We were still great partners.
Young-won: Shouldn’t it be in the present form? We must be the only mother-in-law and daughter-in-law who help each other out like this.

Perhaps it’s time to make such healthy relationships common. Overall, the finale of this show was a great and entertaining watch. Don’t you think?

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2 thoughts on “Bitter Sweet Hell – K-drama Episode 12 Recap, Review & Ending Explained”

  1. Hey Holly, the father died accidently as far as I can interpret. It had nothing to do with Se-na which is why she was annoyed at his early death, before she could even start playing with his character. There’s a brief scene where she’s visiting the father’s grave. She did use his accidental death to frame Sa-gang in order to ruffle Young-won’s feathers and make her family appear broken in public.

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