Ok-Dong & Dong-Seok 3
Episode 20 of Our Blues is feature length, at a little over 90 minutes long, and boy does it deserve it. There are a lot of story threads left hanging so let’s dive in.
Given what’s going on with Dong-Seok right now, there’s a reprieve in the form of Seon-A booking a flight to Jeju Island. She’s got her life together, working in construction, while simultaneously keeping up appearances for Yeol. Later in the episode though, she does message Dong-Seok and cancel on him, given Yeol has hurt himself. As we soon find out, this happens to be a blessing in disguise.
What happened on Ok-Dong’s past?
Dong-Seok and Ok-Dong head up to Madang-Ri, wandering through the forest to find the spot where her village was. The thing is, she’s not exactly wearing ideal footwear and ends up twisting her ankle. Eventually they make it to the other side of the reservoir, where Dong-Seok learns Ok-Dong only really visited this spot once after having Dong-I.
Ok-Dong’s parents passed away when she was six and seven, with them both dying a year apart from one another. She also lost Dong-Seok’s “aunt” back then, along with her older brother when she was 13. He was bitten by a snake, and buried next to her parents.
After learning more about her mother’s past, Dong-Seok takes pity on her, especially when he sees her limping.
As storm clouds rumble, Dong-Seok gives her his coat and a piggyback to the truck. As the rain hammers down, drumming on the roof rhythmically, Dong-Seok confronts Ok-Dong about the past. “I had no one back then. The only person I had was my mum.” He says. “That day, you took my mum away from me.”
Does Ok-Dong apologize?
Ok-Dong calls herself crazy, speaking from the third person, as she reveals how she felt back then. She moved in just to make sure he had 3 meals and a good school life but it wasn’t enough. When she stood by and watched as he was beaten, Ok-Dong felt ashamed and as she cries, willowing in her own self-pity and shame, she tells Dong-Seok not to throw a funeral for her. Dong-Seok struggles to hold back tears.
Dong-Seok takes OK-Dong to the hospital, where it’s revealed she needs to stay hospitalized if she wants to survive. Ok-Dong doesn’t want to though and tells him to take her back home. It’s against the doctor’s orders but Dong-Seok does it anyway. After all, when has he ever followed the rules?
After fixing her up with some comfortable shoes, they head out to a Chinese restaurant for some jajangmyeon. This time though it’s much more civilized, with Dong-Seok even cutting Ok-Dong’s noodles up for her. Dong-Seok used to eat this before his father passed away.
Next, they head to Gusa Town, which is quite far away but it’s the spot she met Dong-Seok’s father. It’s here he understands how rough she’s had it in the past.
Do Ok-Dong and Dong-Seok heal their wounds?
After their trip, they head back on the boat where Dong-Seok shows a picture of Yeong-Ju and Hyeon’s baby girl. Dong-Seok also helps Ok-Dong with her writing, spelling out all the family names on the window.
When Ok-Dong falls asleep, Dong-Seok makes a big decision and drives her up to Mount Halla, the place he used to frequent when he was angry. She’s never been there before, and he does so to at least give her some good memories at the end of her life.
When they arrive halfway up the mountain, Dong-Seok agrees to take her to Baengnokdam Lake. It takes around 4-5 hours to get up there, but Ok-Dong is adamant. They walk barely 30 minutes before the pair sit down, in the wilderness, and talk. Dong-Seok reassures her that those deaths in the past are not her fault, and encourages her to open up about what her happiest memory is. “Right now. I love this trip we’re taking to mount Halla right now.”
Does Ok-Dong make it to the lake?
Realizing she may not make it, Dong-Seok decides to go on ahead to the lake for her, adamant on taking a picture for her and letting her see the lake. While Dong-Seok is heading up the mountain alone, determined to do the best for her, Ok-Dong attempts to ring Jong-U. After, she slumps down on the table.
Meanwhile, Dong-Seok progresses forward but he’s unable to go any further due to the deteriorating weather This journey is as much a cathartic journey of healing as it is doing something for his mum, and he records a video for her, encouraging Ok-Dong to head out to the Lake just them two together.
After sending it over, Dong-Seok drives Ok-Dong back to Jeju Island again, with the trip having done wonders to heal their wounds. He even takes her up to the house he’s been fixing up for Seon-A. In fact, Seon-A and Yeol are both there together. Ok-Dong gets to meet them both, uttering to Seon-A that Dong-Seok has a very kind heart, watching as he and Yeol swing together on the seat outside, discussing horse riding.
Does Ok-Dong pass away?
Back home, OK-Dong fixes up some stew for her son to enjoy. She has a big smile on her face, as Dong-Seok heads over that morning to see her. Only, she’s lying down and not moving. She’s passed away.
As Dong-Seok hugs his mother, he reflects back on how he never really resented her, he just wanted to reconcile with her and make up. As he lets the tears flow, he hugs her tightly; the other residents around Jeju rush up to check on him.
How does Our Blues end?
We then cut forward 1 month later. Dong-Seok helps out Chun-Hui for the upcoming Athletic meet, while continuing to sell wares from his truck. A load has definitely been lifted from him, and that much is especially true when all the residents (including a returning Mi-Ran) join for the athletic meet.
All the different groups are there, teamed up together. It’s a really nice moment to show how far all these guys have come (more on this in the review part!) while Dong-Seok and Chun-Hui run together with Seon-A and Eun-Hi watching on.
Yeong-Ok heads over and gives Seon-A a uniform and encourages her to get involved too. The group have been through so much, as a beautiful montage ensues to bring this wonderful show to an end.
The Episode Review
Most of this episode has been taken up with the complicated relationship between OK-Dong and Dong-Seok, which has multiple layers of drama to it. Many people who haven’t had this sort of rocky relationship will probably not quite understand the dynamic (I know I don’t fully appreciate it, given I’m pretty close to my mum) but it’s beautifully portrayed across this season nonetheless.
This whole chapter has some beautifully symbolic moments too. Seeing Dong-Seok go on that long walk feels like a cathartic journey, something that he’s needed in order to work through his emotions and do something for his mum.
Meanwhile, Ok-Dong has been through a helacious ordeal and has taken out her passive-aggressive feelings on Dong-Seok, remarrying just so they have a roof over their heads but losing her son in the process, as he grew more resentful of her over the years. It’s taken a long time to heal, and it’s particularly telling that when Ok-Dong attempts to ring Jong-U, wanting to resolve everything properly, and he doesn’t pick up.
Ok-Dong’s death hits pretty hard in that respect, and the scene itself reminds me a lot of Joyce’s death in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The silence, the raw emotion and the slow realization at what’s happened; the whole scene is pitch perfect.
The critic in me though wishes we actually saw more from the different residents. How are Yeong-Ju and Hyeon coping with their new baby? What’s going on with Myeong-Bo after the domestic violence? And do Dal-i and Ki-Jun actually get together? None of these storylines have really been resolved, and a bit of closure would have been nice on that front.
However, the final scenes with the Athletic Meet are a wonderful way of symbolically showing how everyone has come together to win in their respective journeys. Yeong-Ok and Jeong-Ju run perfectly in-sync together. In-Gwon and Ho-Sik stumble but then get back up and keep running, while Dong-Seok helps out Chun-Hui, who have both found solace in one another following Ok-Dong’s death.
Although not everything has been wrapped up perfectly, this beautifully written anthological drama still manages to deliver the goods in this final chapter, rounding everyone out with a poignant, heartfelt and beautifully written episode. Can we please get a second season?