Itaewon Class – K-Drama Episode 16 (The Finale) Recap & Review

A Perfect Conclusion

Korean dramas, more often than Western series, have a tendency to wrap things up in a pretty good way. Of course, there are exceptions with shows like Vagabond and Memories Of The Alhambra ending poorly but when it comes to Itaewon Class, the series does an excellent job wrapping up all the loose plot threads, taking the time during this 90 minute episode to give everyone a great send-off.

The season finale of Itaewon Class begins with Sae-Ro-Yi ignoring The Chairman’s antagonistic behaviour and asking once again where Geun-Won is. True to his word, the Chairman hands over a piece of paper with the location on. However, just before he hands it over he asks the Chairman how he feels and whether this moment is gratifying to him.

Sae-Ro-Yi rises up and tells him he admires the Chairman and his journey inspired him to try and emulate what he’s done. Given what’s transpired recently however, Sae-Ro-Yi tells him he feels like he’s wasted a decade of his life to follow someone who resorted to kidnapping in order to bring him to his knees. As he walks away, the Chairman’s victory feels hollow.

Meanwhile, Geun-Soo and Yi-Seo find themselves surrounded outside the hideout. While Yi-Seo makes a break for it, charging off in the opposite direction, Geun-Soo holds his ground. Unfortunately he’s beaten down until the big Boss Hee-Hoon looks set to kill him. As he threatens to lay the final blow, Geun-Won stops him and implores the man to go after Yi-Seo. As they leave, he tells his brother to stay out of this conflict.

At the same time, Yi-Seo charges away from the gang until Sae-Ro-Yi arrives and saves her at the last minute. Seung-Kwon tells Sae-Ro-Yi and Yi-Seo to leave, and as they race away Seung-Kwon tackles the gang himself head on.

Exhausted, Sae-Ro-Yi and Yi-Seo run from Geun-Won until he stops and tells her he loves her. As he embraces his manager, Geun-Won charges up in his car and the two start brawling while Yi-Seo races away to get help. The two fights overlap, as punches are traded. Seung-Kwon overpowers his former boss and thankfully Sae-Ro-Yi manage to overpower Geun-Won, eventually using some cunning skills to win the fight. As he thinks back to his times with Yi-Seo, he collapses on the ground.

Yi-Seo meanwhile, makes it to the highway where she notices the police arriving and breathes a sigh of relief.

In the aftermath of the gang kidnapping, Soo-A hands over her evidence to the police and everything comes crashing down around the Chairman. Jangga is investigated for a number of different crimes, and the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. However, Sae-Ro-Yi’s company offer a reasonable takeover bid.

Ho-Jin visits Geun-Won in prison and receives good closure to his tale, standing up to his bully and telling him he forgives him, walking away as Geun-Won screams for him to stop.

The Chairman pleads with different investors to prevent Sae-Ro-Yi from taking over Jangga. It’s no good though, and he’s eventually forced to look defeat in the face.

In the aftermath of this, Sae-Ro-Yi invites the Chairman over and he allows the man to try his Tofu stew. The Chairman apologises for not bringing any money and asks if he can pay Sae-Ro-Yi back in another way. He drops to his knees and tells Sae-Ro-Yi it’s his fault, weeping. After telling him it doesn’t feel good, Sae-Ro-Yi tells him he’s not a pushover and suggests coldly that they get to work with the takeover.

IC Co take over Jangga and Sae-Ro-Yi stands up to deliver his speech. He tells them Jangga is a good company but it was one man’s fault for Jangga’s downfalls. He promises to allow the company to renew and prosper again, prompting Geun-Soo and the others in attendance to applaud his efforts.

Afterward, Geun-Soo sits with Sae-Ro-Yi and they get closure together. He tells Geun-Soo to come by and eat every now and then and walks away, calling him a “kiddie” as Soo-A phones and resigns herself as Sae-Ro-Yi’s friend. She tells him she did what she did to help his Father, who she promised to pay back 3X for his hospitality all those years ago. She tells him to live happily and hangs up, as we’re left to realize Soo-A joining Jangga and everything she’s done has all been about Sae-Ro-Yi’s father.

Meanwhile, Tony Kim shows a couple of English tourists a place upstairs and speaks perfect English in the process, surprising the others. Just then however, Geun-Soo arrives and apologises to his former friends, especially Hyun-Yi who smacks him in the stomach for what he did to her. Not long after, Geun-Soo meets Yi-Seo and tells her he’s leaving for the States and only stopped by to apologise.

Before he leaves, he asks Yi-Seo whether he can shake her hand but instead she hugs him and apologises for taking advantage of him for all those years. He struggles to hold back tears as she walks away, out of his life forever. At the same time, Seung-Kwon invites Hyun-Yi indirectly to the movies with him. Whether these two end up together officially in the future or not, remains to be seen.

As we skip forward in time, Yi-Seo and Hyun-Yi arrive to scout Soo-A’s new restaurant. Soo-A greets them and as she mentions dating Sae-Ro-Yi, Soo-A issues a heartfelt message about taking care of him instead of the usual antagonistic behaviour she’s used to. It certainly throws Yi-Seo off her game and she quickly walks away.

Inside, Soo-A has an interview with a new chef but as he stands up and turns around, his gorgeous good looks mesmerize her. She tries his food and hires him to work for her the next day.

Yi-Seo and Sae-Ro-Yi head out together and spend the day in Itaewon, where their journey started all those episodes ago. Yi-Seo kisses him and as they stare at one another, Sae-Ro-Yi thinks back to all those moments of hardship and euphoria in the hunt for happiness. This all culminates in him telling her he loves her.

As the episode closes out, the entire DanBam group join on the rooftop to listen to a very out-of-tune Tony Kim playing the guitar. As Sae-Ro-Yi looks up at the camera, he smiles.

During a post-credit scene, Sae-Ro-Yi’s life plays out as we see him and Yi-Seo dating and working together, sharing one more kiss on the shoreside as Yi-Seo blushes and smiles.

When it comes to conclusions, Itaewon Class is arguably one of the most satisfying and conclusive finishes to a show I’ve seen in quite some time. Every character is given a perfect ending, right down to the minor supporting players of the show. Although I personally thought the chef at the end was going to be Geun-Won out of prison, ready to make amends for everything he’s done, the reveal itself was good nonetheless.

While the whole kidnapping sub-plot feels like a bit of a contrived effort to inject some late drama into the fold, given Seung-Kwon’s ghosts from his his past, it certainly serves its purpose here. The dual fights – involving both Sae-Ro-Yi and Seung-Kwon’s – were really well edited together and added some much-needed urgency to the climax.

Ultimately though, Itaewon Class bows things out with a really good finale. It’s a nigh-on perfect conclusion to this Korean drama and wraps everything up with enough precision and care to feel naturally delivered rather than rushed or forced. While Itaewon Class isn’t the tear-jerker like Hotel Del Luna or Crash Landing On You were, JTBC’s latest drama does an excellent job keeping pace with those two titles, delivering one of the strongest finishes to a show and solidfying itself as a top contender for one of the best TV shows of the year.


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6 thoughts on “Itaewon Class – K-Drama Episode 16 (The Finale) Recap & Review”

  1. I wasn’t sure if I would like Itaewon Class but each episode left me wanting for more. The actors, actresses played their roles so convincingly that you felt their excitement, emotional hurt and connectivity and concern with fellow cast members. Definitely a watch. Writers were excellent! Definitely a talented group of people. Thank you for your hard work

  2. In the part where they are punching, I am watching netflix. Episode 16 time stamp 27:54 minutes, a random voice appears. More like miss edit or a little voice of a girl apprears. Use headphones so you can hear, Im not creep(ed) out but yeah

  3. Geun soonis my favorite character I felt the film just made him suffer the most and no proper ending for him,he practically lived for yi seo and yi seo is such a mean character

  4. I think it pretty genius writing to fit LGBT and racial issues, domestic violence, slush funds, corruption, love, hate, jealousy, and cowardice plus some gorgeous Korean cooking in this series. I did not mind certain cheesiness or the lack of sex. I do understand that the Chinese market is very important. Of course, there is product placement but not excessively. The collision safety of Mercedes was demonstrated nicely.
    I really appreciate how much material the writers have processed into the script.
    Not once did I get the feeling that the next scene is exactly what I expected. There was always a twist.
    I binge-watched the whole series in two days.
    I give it all the stars I’ve got.

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