My Liberation Notes – Episode 16 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The 500 Won Coin

Episode 16 of My Liberation Notes starts with Gi-Jeong heading out for something to eat. However, awkwardness ensues when Tae-Hun happens to be there too. It turns out he wasn’t aware of her new hair style (which his friends comment on) and he stifles a smile.

What happens with the Liberation Club?

Elsewhere, Mi-Jeong passes her ex in the street but thinks twice about stopping Chun-Ho. Instead, she continues on to meet with the rest of the Liberation Club, Tae-Hun included.

Together, Sang-Min excitedly talks about a big opportunity. He has someone who wants to publish their diaries, believing it’ll resonate with people given it’s the inner-thoughts of regular office workers.

To protect their identities they want to use pseudonyms, although Tae-Hun is concerned as his diary is “too personal.” While the others discuss how they’ve been liberated by their experiences, even just a little, Tae-Hun doesn’t share that same enthusiasm. He tells then he’s found the root cause of his issues but hasn’t been able to do much about it.

What happens with Gu and his demons?

After wishing each other a Happy New Year, the four head home. On the way, Mi-Jeong bumps into Mr Gu. Now, earlier in the episode Chairman Shin gave the order to get rid of Hyeon and “shut the shop down” but instead, Gu shows mercy. He tells the gambler that if the revenue at the club drops below 80 million won, he’s out immediately.

With Mi-Jeong, Gu admits that he’s hearing things, typified by a phone ringing in the car. It’s obviously a side effect to drinking all day, with Gu admitting that it’s easier than staying sober. Drink has always been both a friend and enemy, and this time the boozy demons are causing hell for him.

Mi-Jeong talks about her woes too, including Chun-Ho who continues to taunt her. Gu wants his number to take care of him but Mi-Jeong refuses.

That weekend, Du-Hwan shows up to greet the three siblings as they head back to Sangpo. With bags of food, they head in to see Je-Ho for his birthday and to catch up on old times.

How does Je-Ho’s story end?

Before their big lunch though, Chang-Hee catches up with his friends, where he discusses how he’s managed to reduce down how much he spends. He’s effectively paid off his massive loan and done so by disciplining himself, remembering Gu’s advice given about the analogy involving the coins and the mountain.

Chang-Hee has always wanted to be rich and although he hasn’t won the lottery or anything, it’s fair to say he’s actually become more enriched in life.

That afternoon, he admits to the kids that he’s not as strong as they are, and even tells Chang-Hee that if he wants to live on his own then that’s absolutely fine too. It’s the first time we’ve heard him open up about his true feelings, given most of the time he’s been quiet and reflective.

What happens with Chang-Hee and Hyeok-Su?

When Chang-Hee heads back to Seoul, he arrives at the hospital but realizes that Hyeok-Su is not doing too well. He doesn’t have long left, so he hurriedly rings and messages Hyeon-A, trying to get through to her. She’s not picking up.

The thing is, this comes at the worst possible time. Chang-Hee is doing really well at work and on the cusp of having a big meeting with those from HQ. He’s left with a big decision to make. And that choice? He stays.

With Hyeon-A so unreliable, Chang-Hee comforts him, retorting how it’s his destiny to be here, given he’s the one who has witnessed 3 others (including his mum of course) passing away. “Don’t be afraid and leave peacefully. Gently.” He says, holding his hand.

Does Mi-Jeong get closure with her ex?

Elsewhere, Mi-Jeong heads upstairs and starts sifting through her old diaries. She looks through all the entries from “My Liberation Notes”, ready to ship then off to Sang-Min’s publisher friend.

At the bank, she finds Chun-Ho in front of her and tries to remain quiet. When she sees him brush past a woman in front, his bag touching her ass, she turns and confronts him. Mi-Jeong, of all people, sticks up for Chun-Ho and tells the woman the truth, that this was just an honest mistake.

This small act of kindness ripples outside, where Chun-ho waits to talk to her. The pair speak civilly outside, with Mi-Jeong biting her tongue and not shouting or demanding her money. Chun-Ho promises to wire 1 million won to her tomorrow. It’s a really nice scene, one that reinforces that sometimes kindness is the way forward rather than hostility.

Do Tae-Hun and Gi-Jeong stay together?

Back in Seoul, there’s continued drama with the family as Gyeong-Seon and Tae-Hun continue to have their problems. She belittles Gi-Jeong for not showing up at church again, claiming her father’s birthday is just an excuse.

Tae-Hun eventually heads out with Gi-Jeong, speaking to her about why they even got together in the first place. She wanted to be the one to cheer him on and definitely doesn’t want to break up.

Tae-Hun  is in deep-rooted depression. He even admits to her that he’s not happy to be alive and when Gi-Jeong mentioned she wasn’t pregnant, he let out a sign involuntarily because he was relieved. Gi-Jeong listens to all of this and decides to continue supporting him all the same.

Symbolically, later on in the episode Tae-Hun drops off a rose to Gi-Jeong that night, but the head of the rose snapped off. When Gi-Jeong brings it in, she realizes she loves Tae-Hun, and messages him, telling him his buttons are done up wrong. It’s an open-ended conclusion but one that seems to hint that the pair have a future after all.

How does Chang-Hee find his purpose? Is it fate?

As for Chang-Hee, he heads off to a lecture but realizes he’s in the wrong room. When he tries to slip away, he hears the lecturer talking about funerals and being a director of this, and sees it as a sign.

This is fate once more bringing him closer to his purpose. It’s another really nice scene, and although the idea of death in itself is pretty grim and dark, the way Chang-Hee has realized that fate (whether it be God, another deity or something else entirely) is pulling him in his direction, makes him embrace this path laid out before him.

What happens to Gu at the club?

Back at the club, Gu finds himself in the presence of a number of loan sharks, who have come in their numbers to recoup their losses. Hyeon’s debt has caught up to him and with 160 million won owed, they mean business.

Gu gives the order to shut the shop, and a massive brawl ensues. In the middle of all this, Hyeon takes off with the money while Chun-Ja is a bloody mess on the floor.

How does My Liberation Notes end?

Through this hellacious day, Gu continues to take Mi-Jeong’s advice, clocking up the seconds of joy after work. When he drops a 500 won coin on the floor, it rolls over and lands on the drain, hanging on the edge.

This show has been a series of metaphors and symbolic gestures and this one is fantastic. The coin is stopped from falling into the gutter (where Gu could end up if he doesn’t make changes in his life) and as he laughs incredulously to himself, he decides to leave the bottle by the side of the road by a homeless person (which symbolizes rock-bottom in this metaphor). Trudging step by step, he’s going to try and better his life, and the first step to that is make sure he’s sober.

As for Mi-Jeong, she waits to see Gu, reflecting on how her Liberation Notes are split into two parts – before and after she met Gu. For now, she feels lovable and as she looks at the camera, smiling, this wonderful series comes to a close.


The Episode Review

There’s a lot to unpack in the finale of My Liberation Notes, and if there’s one thing this show has done fantastically well, it’s the symbolism and themes. The show has done so well to keep this going throughout the episodes and it seems fitting to end on one here too, given the coin and the drain.

For me, Chang-Hee is the one who gets the best ending. The idea of fate intervening and showing you purpose is a lovely way of giving this man some clarity, given he’s been drifting for some time now. It’s almost like he’s been tested up until this point, with every part of his life leading to this moment, stumbling into what he’s meant to do.

We’ve seen that Chang-Hee wanted to be rich but yet, the real fulfilment has come from disciplining himself into clearing all his debts and having money he can call his own. Only… that wasn’t his purpose. Not really. In a morbid but satisfyingly ironic way, Chang-Hee realizes that he’s destined to work as a funeral director which, I guess, does make sense given what he’s been through.

As for Mi-Jeong, the Liberation Club allowed her to externalize her inner thoughts we’ve been hearing through narration across the season. It’s actually quite interesting that Mi-Jeong has stopped that these past few episodes, symbolizing her confronting – and healing – her demons. That smile right at the end was so powerful and poignant.

Ultimately though, My Liberation Notes has been a fantastic drama. The writing has been superb and despite a rather slow start, has settled into a really good rhythm and managed to touch on a lot of important topics.

Is this the best K-drama of 2022? It’s certainly going to be a tough one to beat, that’s for sure!

Previous Episode

You can read our full season review for My Liberation Notes Season 1 here!

 

  • Episode Rating
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4.5

26 thoughts on “My Liberation Notes – Episode 16 Recap, Review & Ending Explained”

  1. The best Drama I’ve seen yet. When broken, fed up, lonely people finally find their purpose through love and understanding then even self-hate has no chance of winning. Mr Gu, the stranger whom everyone was leaving alone due to his quiet, non charismatic persona. Mi Jeong, the girl thinking she was unloveable and left scarred because everyone she cared about left her. She found a reason to be alive in Mr Gu… not because she fell for him (at first) but because she believed that he needed to be saved. Little did she know that he would end up saving her too. This drama reminded me a lot of the movie “Little Forest” with Kim Tae Ri. Life lessons learned through trial and error… because let’s face it, living is all about learning, failing, falling and picking yourself up and living again until the next lesson.

  2. Estoy totalmente impactada y destrozada. Pero dios mío que final, realmente lo tuvo todo, es increíble como en 16 capítulos nos han contado una historia tan pero tan extensa, voluminosa, llena de tantos matices, referencias, dilemas, lo han hecho con tantas pequeñas escenas que llenan que te hacen vibrar, que te hacen seguir atentx. Soy una gran fan de los kdramas, y realmente este ha sido una gran historia que me ha conmovido hasta llegar a lo más profundo de “mis notas de liberación”, estoy tan feliz, tengo más esperanzas, dios qué libertad siento. Este kdrama ha llegado en un punto de mi vida que necesita lanzar la moneda. Sr. Gu lo amo,Chang Hee, My yeong, Gi jeong, amé y lloré por su madre, precioso. Me encantó, amé a cada personaje. Realmente una obra de arte

  3. @ Dannah

    My Liberation Notes was written by a very talented scriptwriter, Miss Park Hae-Young. She is very creative!

    Have you seen Because This Is My First Life? I thought it’s one of the best Kdramas on Netflix. Nam Se-Hee was a breath of fresh air. It’s really good as it talks about marriage, tradition, relationships, trust, sacrifice and gender roles. It’s sooooooo good that I have re-watched it so many times. You’re going to love all of the characters.

  4. @lee min ho’ wife.
    The girl that died is the live in partner/girlfriend of Mr.Gu. The guy with lee min ki that died is a cancer patient. He is the ex bf of hyeon ah ( hyeon ah and his new bf broke up because she helps to take care the ex.. ex that become a friend) so thru hyeon ah ,lee min ki knows this cancer patient and become his friend too. Hyeon ah got the money from the ex with cancer(maybe give to her bec she is the one who taking care of him) thats why the lady (mother of the patient) keep asking her the money. The mother just wanted the money but doesnt care the son. Lee min ki have loan cuz he he buy that convenient store. He bought it and manage his own business.

  5. The bag of money is pretty open ended. Gu probably initially packed it up to take it to pay off the debt to his boss which is why he said that guy was going to be one more person who would haunt him. Then he made the choice to stop drinking which means he knew the demons would haunt him more. However, he realized he had learned how to gather up those precious moments every day so maybe he could tolerate it now. So maybe he will still pay off the debt or maybe he will take that money and run off with Mi-jieong. Whatever the case may be, they are both in a better place than they were at the start.

  6. I was so impressed in general with the series. Wonderful acting and it really caught the dilemmas of many people in this world of ours. A much deeper drama than so many from Korea, which are quite childish at times..This one went into the problems that most families go through and it was good to see them each working through their problems.Well done cast and crew!

  7. How completely refreshing to come upon a very intelligent, well-written and acted melodrama! I’ve now seen a lot of Korean dramas and was losing hope I’d ever find one like this! Most are fluff or made for pure entertainment, but this one definitely has something to say within the heaps of nuance. If there are more dramas with equally thought-provoking themes, please somebody let me know! 10 out of 10, and I hope it gets its just rewards at awards time.

  8. That was a very interesting drama to watch. Not addictive enough to my taste, but most certainly captivating. I must admit, I was more attracted to Mr. Goo than to all other characters. Oh, and I am also a Kim Ji-Won fan since Lovestruck in the City. I hated her in DOTS, but I fell in love with her in Lovestruck in the City. Her character here is very much like in LITC before her romantic encounter.

    I am one of those rare people who are totally find with open endings. I know those two are going to be together. How do I know? If you look at her smile at the very end, when she sees him, you can pretty much understand – she has this smile reserved for only one person.

    It makes total sense to me that this drama is called “My Liberation Notes”. In the end, all the main characters got liberated. Even the mother. She died and got liberated from all that hard housework. Although, who knows, if the kids moved out earlier, maybe she would have lived longer? The new wife probably feels lonely there, out in the boondocks. That’s why she is so happy each time the kids visit him.

    My take from that drama is that one girl’s change in attitude has a ripple effect on everybody else in the story. If she didn’t ask Mr. Goo to worship her, who knows, maybe her sister wouldn’t start anything with that single father. The sister, in turn, enabled her both to realize what true love is like and gave him the guts to break up with his girlfriend.

    I still have lots of unanswered questions though, hope somebody can answer them for me.

    1. Who was the girl who died because of Mr. Goo? How was she related to him? Why did she kill herself? It was not very clear from his story.

    2. Why did that single father fail to establish normal relationships with his daughter? Why did he tolerate his obnoxious sister?

    3. What was Mr. Goo’s job at the club? To collect earnings from…. what? Illegal gambling? To evade taxes?

    4. That guy who was dying…. why was he in the hospital? And why was that girl visiting him all the time? Was she his girlfriend? Where did she get the money and why that lady wanted to kill her?

    5. Lee Min Ki’s character was repaying his loan. To whom? Why did he have to borrow money?

    There are tons of unanswered questions that I will never be able to understand…. but… I am okay with that.

    It was a good drama. I would place accents on different events in the story, but that would be another drama.

  9. Love the script..the settings..and Mr Gu is so cool..it potrays day to day live….the real thing

  10. This is a very deep drama indeed. Many life values can be learned from this kdrama as an ENFJ-t

  11. I absolutely loved this K-drama, definitely one of the best I’ve seen. It’s always difficult to act in dramas like this with real life issues and pull if off, which the cast did brilliantly, they were all superb. And let’s not forget the superb writing. I hope Gu and Mijeong find their happiness together, I couldn’t help but feel drawn to their relationship and the difficulty of finding a way through the minefield of demons drink can cause. All the characters were fantastic and I think the director /producer made an excellent selection of actors to play the roles. 10/10 excellent, I look forward to seeing the cast at the annual awards ceremony next year with best actor, best supporting actor, best director and best screen play. Thank you K-Dramas.

  12. I so loved this drama! I couldn’t wait to see it each time. Very well done! The pace worked for me. However, I wish for more certainty of where their futures were going.

    – The brother, great career path ahead. Perfect. (☺️)
    – The sister, I was hoping they would confirm with a wedding. Are they really going to wait until the daughter is 20 years old?? (😥😟)
    -Happy the father started to have more awareness of self& others (🙏🏽)
    – Mi Jeong is happier (☺️)
    – Will Gu be followed by the old man & forced to open a new club? I Don’t think they will let Gu out of the host business. (🥺😔?)
    – Did Gu’s bodyguard die?

    I really wanted to see the family reunion w/Gu & for the two of them to start a life at Sanpo Sinks and live a peaceful, happy life in the countryside near her father. 🥰 yes maybe we need a movie for “five years later”!

  13. The best series I have seen in Netflix so far. Superb script, acting and scenery. I do not think it can be topped.

  14. One of my favourite series! No second was wasted, and those who found it slow or dull completely missed the point. Life can be slow and dull. It showed us the truth.

    The ending was very fitting. The whole series was about showing rather than telling, lots of allegory, hidden meaning, and weighty silences. Asking the audience to think rather than telling them what to think. The ending was exactly this.

    I personally believe that all these characters found some level of liberation. Chang-Hee found his purpose, Gi-Jeong realised she loved and accepted that love is not perfect, Mi-Jeong embraced being lovable and a good person, and Mr Gu found his ability to forgive so he could face his demons.

    The last scene with Mr Gu was poignant. He was on a precipice, symbolised by the coin balancing on a thin grate, he could fall or pick himself up. The coin not falling meant he didn’t either. He picked up the coin, put the drink down, and went to meet Mi-Jeong who was waiting for him.

    Such a beautiful, beautiful series.

  15. It has its good philosophical side as a slice of life, there is lots of wasted time of moving slow and getting too detailed in to specific scenarios. I dont consider it that good of a show. Time wastedcis too much to bear

  16. I believe by far the BEST drama that delves into emotions and feelings most “real” people experience in their lives. Gu 씨 is the star and so is Mi Jeong. Fantastic dialogues, unimaginable brilliant acting that lifts me up and makes me cry! Love it love it love it!!!

  17. I have so many questions, too!
    Ultimately it seems each person liberated themself and others, and not necessarily in that order. In most cases it seems by liberating others they also liberated themselves—from debts, societal expectations, etc.—, and found hope for something different and new and wonderful.

    The ones who didn’t offer this liberation seemed stuck in their own ruts (they weren’t liberated)—TaeHun’s daughter and his crazy sister. Hopefully his daughter will change as she matures! That sister—she seems like a lost cause!

    I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time, the million ways liberation played out.

  18. Brilliant series. Food for thought. Just love all the actors. MI Jeong and Mr Gu perfect ending. Sad it is finishedsa

  19. I love everything about My Liberation Notes, the cast, director, writer, scenery! But the story is unfinished with all the questions hanging. So i hope there will be a Season 2 for this kdrama. Thank you for giving us a worderful kdrama. Wishing for the 2nd Season. 🥰

  20. I really like the drama but left me with so many questions and wondering a lot wich probably was the intencion of the writter
    but as a persong that has depration maybe it was not a good idea to watch this drama i thought the ending will be much conforting but it left me feling very sad and thinking what is my purpose in this life when you are not happy with your self or anything

  21. Not sure if the bag of money that Gu carried is to pay to the company the 50 million that Hyeon ran away with.

  22. I’m from the Philippines, I’ve waited for these finale because of the love story of Tae Hun and Gi Giong, I’m puzzled whethet their relationship eneded or not it’s a bit confusing, though I wanted their happy ending together..

  23. Yeah i was a bit confused about the money part at first. I think he started off with the intention to help his friend with the gambling debt. But the coin scene changes it altogether. If he were to continue helping his friend he will still be in the gutter (since he has given so many chances but no changes in sight). The coin scene makes him re-think his choices. And he chose the positive, one step at a time. Hopefully trudging happily step by step he meets up with Mi Jeong and share with her his good news.

  24. The final episode of MLN left so many questions. I couldn’t believe it ended just like that hahaha 🙂 The only way I can get over the ending scene is for JTBC to make a movie. I was expecting to see Yeom Chang-hee make a move that will melt Hyeon-a’s heart hahaha 🙂 I would have given the last episode a perfect 5 if I didn’t find myself asking “Is that it?”. Nevertheless, congratulations to the cast and crew of MLN. Thank you so much for giving us the best Kdrama on Netflix.

  25. Do you think the money Gu took is to repay the gambling debt, or to start a new life with MiJeong elsewhere? I am torn between deciding for which path he was opting, I hope the latter, but the voicemail he left leading up to that scene obfuscate things a little.
    Agree with you— the scenes with the coin and the stumbling into the classroom were truly symbolic.

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