Queenmaker – K-drama Episode 11 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The Queen’s Gambit

Episode 11 of Queenmaker begins with news breaking about Ji-yeon potentially meeting a sticky end. Do-hee urges Kyung-sook to stall the debate and keep it going as long as she can, while Dong-joo and Do-hee attempt to close down the cars holding Ji-yeon inside. Unfortunately, the former loses them on the highway and day turns to night, with the chase continuing.

What happens at the debate?

Jae-min calls Do-hee’s team’s bluff and shows off the memo of the leaked investors. Now, we know that Do-hee and Kyung-sook have a rat in their midst, planted by none other than Carl Yoon, but right now they’re not to know that. Kyung-sook more than holds her own though, suggesting that he agree to being open and transparent about digging into Eunsung Group’s donors and permits. After all, if he has nothing to hide (which we know he does) then there’s no harm done, right?

Well, the entire debate is thrown into disarray as news breaks of Ji-yeon’s doctored suicide note. Kyung-sook knows that the whole endeavour is faked and calls Jae-min out for it. However, he decides to end the debate early and work on trying to find Ji-yeon, at least that’s what he tells the public anyway.

While this is going on, Do-hee is found by Ji-yeon’s car and knocked out. In the morning, the vehicle is found, along with coals and Dong-joo too, who is found knocked out on the ground. It turns out he was instrumental in saving Do-hee’s life and freeing Ji-yeon too. He had Do-hee and Ji-yeon drive away to safety, while Jae-min’s men surrounded Dong-joo and began beating him down, eventually stabbing him in the stomach.

How does Yoon respond to the allegations?

In the morning, Yoon goes on the attack, with the footage of Do-hee leaving Ji-yeon’s apartment used as a way of backing up claims of the blackmail. Among those outside the office though are a small contingent of soldiers working on Kyung-sook’s side, singing that familiar song and of course, led by Hwa-soo. She promises to help fight until the very end, as Kyung-sook breaks down in grateful tears.

Ji-yeon awakens from her slumber, in a secure location, as the final day of the campaign sees both Kyung-sook and Jae-min working full steam ahead to try and rally as many voters as possible. Shocking everyone, Ji-yeon suddenly shows up at Kyung-sook’s office and decides to lift the lid on what’s happening. She speaks the truth, all of it, about how Jae-min could be the father of her babe and how they’ve been having a secret affair.

Jae-min watches with a smile on his face, knowing that all of this is crumbling around him. She promises to work hard, accepting the consequences, and knowing that she put herself in this hell. She also thanks Do-hee for helping her out.

Is I-seul’s memory honoured?

As for Do-hee, she gets her hands on I-seul’s phone and meets with Jae-min and discusses what has taken place between them. Jae-min throws one last Hail Mary and attempts to bring Do-hee back onboard, with nothing else to shoot for, but Do-hee can only laugh incredulously. The thing is, I-seul is a smart girl and she actually recorded her and Jae-min’s encounter up on the rooftop, including her tumble down.

Jae-min’s father’s death has more to it than we initially thought too. Yoon left his father to his hell, and Yoon coming back and working on Jae-min’s campaign was his way of attempting to cover up his earlier sins and atone for what happened. Jae-min is shocked when he finds out, and he’s left with I-seul’s phone and a cufflink; the remaining legacy of his career.

The voice recording of I-seul goes viral and it’s the final nail in the coffin for Jae-min, as I-seul’s legacy is kept in check and Do-hee honours I-seul’s final words. The turnout of the elections is much higher than expected but public opinion is not good for Jae-min’s camp, especially the attempted death of Ji-yeon and what’s happened with I-seul.

Chairwoman Son has made her decision, and she shrugs off an apology from Yoon to decide that Jae-min is going to take full responsibility of what’s happened and be left out to dry. She claims that this has “already started” as it seems like she’s gearing up for his death. A man shows up in his apartment and chokes him out, intending to leave him to a similar fate as his father.

Who wins the election?

While Jae-min is choked out and killed, Kyung-sook wins the election by a landslide. Yoon leaves like a rat off a sinking ship, just as predicted, while Chae-ryoung shows up at Jae-min’s apartment and finds the suicide note and the entire scene made to look like Jae-min couldn’t hack it and killed himself.

As Kyung-sook is sworn in as the official mayor, reporter Cho-rong stands up and points out that rumours are circulating that she accepted funds from Eunsung Group. Now, we know that there’s the situation of Seo-Jin to deal with and now that it’s out, Do-hee is reeling. She admits before everyone that she took money from Eunsung Group. But why?

Well, it turns out Do-hee did all of this on purpose, sacrificing herself so an investigation will lead all the way back to Chairwoman Son. That way, they achieve the ultimate checkmate and take out Eunsung Group completely.

What happens after Do-hee’s Hail Mary?

Do-hee is arrested, while the prosecution launches an investigation into Eunsung Corporation. Kyung-sook is shocked when she finds out and believes there could have been another way. Do-hee doesn’t think so and tells her campaign manager to take the sword and hold onto it, slicing into the corruption that’s rife in this world.

Chairperson Son has also been arrested as a result of this, while Kyung-sook doubles up as an attorney to offer Eunsung Group a way out. Specifically, for 90% of the funds to be distributed to a private enterprise which the city will create. In private, Kyung-sook tells Son that real change is coming and she’s not going to fall for the nice woman act anymore. Her crimes of bribery, tax evasion and a whole bunch of other nasty charges, including market manipulation, is about to be exposed. Kyung-sook will not be swayed and promises to make good on all of these claims in less than two months, leaving Son scrambling to hold onto her crumbling enterprise.

How does Queenmaker end?

Seo-jin speaks to Chae-Ryoung and decides that business should be left to the experts. They need a CEO for the logistics company and Seo-jin suggests Chae-ryoung take it on. Just before Seo-jin leaves, Chae-ryong realizes that her mum was responsible for Jae-min’s death. At the prison, Do-hee is visited by a man who needs her help.

The Episode Review

So the final episode comes to a frustrating close with an unnecessary cliffhanger and some of the loose threads left unanswered. Whether we’ll get a second season is anyone’s guess, especially given a show like this – a political boiler-plate drama – which is going to have a rather acquired taste.

In the end, all the characters get their just desserts, with Chairwoman Son watching her empire crumble around her. As for Jae-min, it’s perhaps ironic that he ends dying in the same way his father did, and he lets out his last breath just as Kyung-sook is sworn in as Mayor. That was perhaps obvious given what we’ve seen over the past episodes, but it’s still a satisfying moment.

Queenmaker ultimately ends with a compelling final chapter and with Kyung-sook now Mayor in town, it seems like Seoul is on course for real change.

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You can read our full season review for Queenmaker here!


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