The King: Eternal Monarch – Episode 16 (The Finale) Recap & Review


The End

Well here we are guys. After 15 episodes of theories, time jumps and shocking twists and turns it all comes down to this final 75 minute episode. Although some will undoubtedly be left disappointed with the way this one ends, personally the main theme of two people trying to find each other through time and find their place is this world is beautifully realized and does a great job capturing this. While it looked like the show would go the bittersweet route and end things with time reset, we actually receive a pretty conclusive and satisfying ending for our protagonists.

While some of the time jumping and individual moments are needlessly confusing, at least we didn’t receive an anticlimactic ending like Memories Of The Alhambra. Instead, there’s enough here to make for a satisfying journey that’s rewarded with a decent ending for most of the characters we’ve been following over the weeks. 

The season finale of The King: Eternal Monarch begins with Shin-Jae slumping against the side of the wall following Tae-Eul’s rejection. He thinks back to all those moments they spent together and struggles to prevent tears welling up. Lee Lim meanwhile, finds himself caught at gunpoint by Tae-Eul who forces him to walk into the portal to Corea.

Meanwhile, Jo-Young and Lee-Gon make it to the Kingdom of Corea in 1994, the night of the treason. Jo-Young snaps the neck of the traitorous gate-keeper as Lee Gon tells him he’s going to kill Lee Lim. After giving his faithful companion one final order, Lee Gon charges toward the palace with the Four Tiger Sword.

In the portal between worlds, Tae-Eul keeps Lee Lim held up at gunpoint until Lee Gon has completed his mission and killed the past Lee Lim in the throne room; a ploy to prevent all of this from happening.

In the throne room, the pivotal moment plays out just as foretold as the glass shatters and Lee Gon enters. Only…this time he enters without a mask and with Jo-Young by his side. With both of them together, they charge into the throne room and kill the guards with ease in a slick, orchestrated move. Unfortunately, Jo-Young is injured in the process and passes out by the side as guards rush in and tend to the injured young King.

As Lee Gon and Tae-Eul start to change destiny, the fragments of the flute dissolve and fade away. Without Gon’s side of the flute it means he’s stuck in Corea and given Lim’s side of it fades too, he’s now stuck with Tae-Eul in the world between worlds.

Back in Korea, Shin-Jae shows his Mother that world’s version of him and she breaks down in tears, sobbing and desperate for him to bring the real Shin-Jae back. Only, as he walks away she rushes after him and throws her arms around the heartbroken boy, calling him her son.

Back in 1994 at the palace, the past Lee Lim is stopped by Gon before he can enter the portal at the bamboo forest. Only, as Lee Lim tells Tae-Eul in the portal between worlds if he’s actually stopped in the past then he wouldn’t be standing there. Only, we’ve seen across the previous few episodes that isn’t how time works in this show.

As flowers start blooming in Tae-Eul’s house and the balloons shake and move, time unfreezes in that realm and Lee Lim is hit in the chest with several bullets from Tae-Eul’s gun. The power of the flute has caused this to occur and the chain reaction sees the photos wither and die too. The final act of this sees Lee Gon behading Lee Lim as he’s killed in cold blood.

As soon as this happens, the yo-yo child comments that his toy has broken as we shift to several scenes of him as a child and teenager, watching from the wings in both Corea and Korea as the different events over the season have played out while he makes sure the balance is kept intact. With time now rewritten, Lee Gon’s scar fades away too and this means time will flow differently. As we cut to different shared memories between worlds, it all fades away as time is reset.

All those moments Lee Lim interfered with time are undone, including Hyeon-Min’s Mum finally turning her life around, Ji-Hun living and his Uncle still confined to a wheelchair. Seo-Hyung stops Luna from stealing money and instead, her Mother shows compassion and invites the girl in for food.

Tae-Eul meanwhile, wakes up in Korea during April 25th. Only, she still has her memories intact of Lee Gon and Shin-Jae. In this world though, neither of those people exist. As she wanders the streets and tries to make sense of what’s happening, to add insult to injury a grown Ji-Hun walks past in his naval outfit but obviously doesn’t recognize her given it’s the wrong version of Gon. Meanwhile, Lee Gon jumps through multiple worlds to try and find his version of Tae-Eul, including visiting one version of her that’s drunk and recently married and another reconciling differences with her Mum.

In the Republic of Korea 2021 Na-Ri phones Tae-Eul and tells her a man is there looking to sell a horse; that man happens to be Lee Gon. As the two finally embrace after all this time, we learn that Lee Gon went back to save Jo-Young before jumping through every doorway in a bid to find her. As the two look at one another, Lee Gon tells her he loves her deeply and she tells him she loves him too.

In Corea 2022 time seems to have course-corrected itself. Hyeon-Min is still alive and in the police force while Luna is now working as a police officer. She visits an imprisoned Koo who happens to be the half-sister of Luna. Where Koo’s mother took her under her wing as a child, it looks like she may have adopted Luna and straightened her out. Koo bemoans her luck though and ironically suggests she should have become the Prime Minister instead.

As it turns out, the King and Tae-Eul have been meeting secretly every weekend away from their current lives to catch up on missed time, jumping through the portals together to different periods while being careful not to jump into their counterparts. One of the worlds they visit Lee Gon is actually a tyrant and they’re forced to leave quickly before anyone recognizes them.

After meeting Lee Gon’s Uncle in another time, Tae-Eul hopes they end up in the Joseon period while Lee Gon cheekily shows some leaves and shrugs, “You never know, we might end up in THAT time period,” hinting naughtily at prehistoric times which Tae-Eul certainly doesn’t take too kindly.

The next time period sees Eun-Sup finally happy, looking suave and dating Na-Ri. Lee-Gon calls him the unbreakable sword and as he walks away, Eun-Sup shakes his head and calls him insane.

Midway through jumping between worlds, in Corea Jo-Young notices Lee-Gon has gone and is stopped by the Royal Guard. Lee-Gon grabs Tae-Eul who happens to be with him and hides his lover under his robe to make sure no one sees her. In his room though, Ok-Nam arrives prompting Gon to hide Tae-Eul under the face mask in a hilarious scene. The comedy continues not long after when Tae-Eul tries to hide evidence of her being in this world, heading to the camera footage and narrating footage of Jo-Young with a clear secret as he passes a note to Seung-A.

As the duo return to their daily lives, Prime Minister Mo makes office as the Prime Minister in Corea while Tae-Eul continues to work as an officer in Korea. Time is seemingly saved now and the duo continue to live their separate, parallel lives, meeting at the weekend and jumping through time periods together. As the scene fades, the duo walk away with fragmented scenes of them holding hands and growing old.

If there’s one blemish on this series it comes from the slightly hazy rules regarding jumping through time and how Lee Lim needed to be killed twice (or three times if you count the previous episode). Beyond this though, the love story that dominates this Korean drama has been really well written and the way Gon finds Tae-Eul after all that time is a beautiful way to end their epic journey over the weeks. There’s hints of Hotel Del Luna too in the manner this plays out and that reunion between the two when they finally meet again is certainly heart-wrenching. Unlike the bittersweet, tear-jerking ending to Luna, Eternal Monarch by comparison is pretty uplifting, ending things on a really poetic note.

It looks like Tae-Eul and Lee Gon will live out their lives happily but to be honest, the possibility of a second season could still show up if the duo mess around with one of the parallel universes or end up stuck there. What would happen if the pair arrive back in tyrant Lee Gon’s world and have to hide from the guards? What if they did end up in the Joseon period but were outed as enemies of the state? There’s lots of possibilities but to be honest there’s enough here to round out a conclusive finish and take to what we’ve been given in a self-contained 16 episode structure in true k-drama fashion.

It won’t be for everyone and some will be a little disappointed but personally the way this finishes offers up the perfect end to this tale. With most of the big plot points explained, it’s only small plot holes that are easy to look past in the wake of this tale. The King: Eternal Monarch has been a wonderful Korean drama and certainly one of the better offerings this year.


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36 thoughts on “The King: Eternal Monarch – Episode 16 (The Finale) Recap & Review”

  1. In my head I’ve decided that they marry at some point and go back to the Kingdom. So there. 😂😂

  2. Do you think jeong tae eul ended up in corea as a queen? Who would be the successor of the throne?

  3. I really agree weigh all the comments especially potatoes and Betsie ‘s commands explaining a few things. I feel the heroine should have been made queen. The doppelgangers of the unbreakable sword should have met and showing so many other worlds make this whole story’s value lise meaning, they should ahave just kept it at two worlds because otherwise something or the other is happening with these characters. Then my goodness Luna and the guy who loved the heroine since a young age were meant to be she even kissed him so they should have ended up together. Highly disappointed with what a useless ending however the show up to the point of the heroine waking up after the villain is killed was pretty sick leaving so many good ways to potentially peacefully complete everything. And its ridiculous going on weekends forever with a loved one, I’m pretty sure they’d rather live together have kids really live with each other rather than their tiring dating trek. Thank you for listening really furious with something’s

  4. Potatoes comment would make a better ending but I’m still happy with the way things ended.

  5. I like Potatoes comment because it made sense. I thought about Lee Gon’s responsibility as king. It would have been difficult to leave behind Tae-ul but a great King would have done what he needs to do first for his country. Thumbs up for Potatoes thoughts.

  6. Here’s a few answers that many seem to be asking:

    1. Court Lady Noh was actually from ROK and her family dies during the Korean war – she herself said it “at dawn the boom and blasts… she was found by LG’s grandfather and taken to KOC at the age of 17. Her question to Tae Eul was what came of that war war, as she never heard anything about her hometown ever again. Tae Eul’s response was that an armistice took place creating North & South Korea. Placing that town in the northern region.

    2. Yoyo boy is the manpalsikjeok, he continuously states that he warns people of danger and fights /defeats the enemy. He wants to be whole again, currently he is stuck as a boy as the flute has been split in half. When the flute is made whole again we see he has aged into a teenager. Here he ponders whether to break the string or not. Time is then reset.

    3. LG called Tae Eul the “future queen“ big fail after taking your army to do battle for the woman you love…. Instead he takes her on an eternal time jumping sightseeing trip…. Yeah okay just what every girl dreams of!

    4. This K-drama had a slow start then picked up pace but the ending really did SUCK. I expected something a little better. I’ll give credit to actors, they did their best… writers please go back to school and relearn the genre!!

  7. I really loved the series and anticipated every week for the next episode. But after seeing ep16, I wasn’t trilled atall. Why was there no wedding, that would have been the biggest highlight of the series. I was a little disappointed. But all the same, I am a huge LMH fan, so I can scratch that 😊

  8. On the contrary, I think a sad and tragic ending would have made more sense. After all the mess that the flute had caused, I thought LG would come to realize that the previous kings had good reasons for not playing God. In an alternate ending, Gon could have tried to do what’s right and seal the road to parallel worlds forever, making sure no one can abuse it again. He could have decided to do that after finding Tae-Eul and fulfilling his last promise. He would be heartbroken, yes, but he would be making a decision bigger than himself or his royal family woes, and that would have been an amazing character development, no? Because lets admit it, LG’s focus on killing his uncle for personal vendetta has made him somewhat of a narrow character with nada development.

    But nooo, the ending still highlighted his self-centeredness, choosing to ignore the fact that him and Tae-Eul couldn’t live like that forever, what with him being a king and needing to find a queen in his world who could provide him with an heir.

    Holding on to that note, here’s another flaw: if the children have the same parents in RoK and KoC, it goes to say that the worlds have ‘mirror’ couples too. Therefore, the hint that Luna and Hyeon-min could end up together while LG and Tae-eul are gallivanting through dimensions is breaking the series’ own set of rules.

    In an alternate ending, I’m imagining Tae-Eul wandering the streets where she met LG for the first time, still teary-eyed and wistful, when a grown Ji-hun walks by. Only this time, she dropped her ID that she was holding and he stopped to pick it up, looking at it and saying her name out loud before returning it to her with a smile…. While in Corea, Gon’s life is again in trouble due to some terrorists or whatever. Then a person saved him from a bullet, who turns out to be Luna who’s also now a police officer.

    All along, Tae-Eul is apparently fated to meet Ji-hun in her world, and Lee Gon to Luna. LG and Tae-Eul’s meeting was a result of the the strings getting tangled and mixed up, so when the flute got fixed, so does their fate and timeline. Finally tying the loose ends.

    I love this show that I stuck with it even when friends gave up, but I am sorely disappointed in the loose ends and lack of character development that I have created in my mind a more sensible ending while watching. 🙁

  9. Basically Tae Eul police nametag can be classified as bootstrap paradox item. Item which infinitely causing itself to exist. Because small Lee Gon receiving Tae Eul police nametag then he is seeking for Tae Eul as grown-up Lee Gon and after he find Tae Eul, He is able in possession of Tae Eul police nametag. This should trigger looping paradox that without any ends.

  10. i felt like they fell in love too fast though and like since it was the king who went back in time to saved himself,why does he have her id card in the first place so liket its just a reason to get them together but the parallel worlds part and the trying to defeat lee lim part + the doppelgangers in the different worlds were interesting so overall the show was great for its fantasy but tae eul should have became queen though

  11. The yoyo boy is the Manpasikjeok. If you remember in Ep 14, yoyo boy and Lee Ji Hun’s mom were talking. He said that he wants to help and warn people because “I want to save myself and become whole”.

    I believe most people commenting how disappointed they are of the finale are still stuck in a Filipino plot. Like c’mon! Behind the mind boggling plot is a VERY wonderful love story. Happy ending doesn’t mean weddings. So pinoy! This series by far has the most satisfying finale! This series is a masterpiece!

  12. Pretty disappointed with the final episode. I cringed when T kissed LG when he finally found her. Idk but the writers need a little help in the romance genre…it was an awkward kiss, their words didn’t live up to the “chemistry” they supposedly had for each other. Blah, yo-yo boy was like an afterthought to make the plot more interesting. They never explained him! And wasn’t there something between Lady G and the Uncle–that old man that died, I forget his name, but were they married? See, so confusing and in the confusion of keeping the plot sci-fi the writers didn’t focus on the romance. Like, even the kiss at the end was funny as heck! LG had to go in twice for the kiss. Were they trying to keep it PG13? Lol, idk it didn’t seem to be an adult romance. There was no passion. It sucks cuz the actors were all pretty awesome and each had their shining moments but the focus of the drama, the two lovers, just didn’t seem like their romance was told thouroughly–they got lost in the many confusing folds. Honestly this series is like a 7.5/10.

  13. I feel dissapointed because this series didnt give the depth of characters . Like, even if they called it a fate, i wish it should allow more time to showcase their progressing in their love . We are talking about love that stands between universe so it must be a strong bond but how could you do that if you dont know the person enough?? Fate is the key word here? Sigh.

  14. I’m in the disappointed camp, the ending was a let down, the drama never took flight. I guess they spent too much on the set design, there wasn’t anything left for the music budget. Lee Min-ho is a gorgeous talented actor, but his character was dull, the monotone voice wasn’t helpful. I watched Boys over Flowers between episodes, I needed the LMH fix. He’s absolutely wonderful when given a decent script, this drama didn’t have a fighting chance and the chemistry between the two main characters was flat.

    LMH, your fans will wait diligently for your next role, FIGHTING!!!!

  15. You have to rewatch the last episode to fathom the ending concept. It would be a great ending if the King and Tae-Eul got married and be the Queen.

  16. What’s up with the leaf branches?? That’s the only part I can’t fully understand – is it for covering up in case they end up in “that” time period? Contraceptives somehow? What is “that” time period? I need answers!!! 😭

  17. Im a bit dissapointed too with this ending eventho its a happy one..
    I cant understand some of the events (if u guys know, feel free to fill the gap)
    1. Who is the yoyo boy, like really??? Why he looks like he is so important but I still dont know how he became ‘that’ important?? He knows many things for sure tho

    2. What happened with manpalsikjeok after LG kill LL?? Did he bring it with him (because he said he helped Jo Yeoung first, when Tae Eul asked what took him so long to find her) to the future???? IF So , then manpalsikjeok in the 1994 was gone???? Then LG fate didnt change that much except for Lee Lim didnt get the flute and left a scar to his neck???
    This is so confusing for me XO

    If he didnt take it with him , he wouldnt go to RoK at the first place and wouldnt remember Tae Eul..

    Probably if theres no answer to this.. im gonna think its a mere plot holes.. hiks

    And yeaaaa why and how could theres no weddinggggggg omg, its like happy ending with tragic ending taste 🙁
    But overall its a great drama, one of the best this year ^^

  18. The earth is truly flat in this movie. I Was Extremely disappointed in the finale. A great let down!!! I do not regard traveling from one period of Korea to another Corea as a great ending. Am I the only one who can see that the the earth in the end was really flat for them. No marriage, no queen, no heir. I find it depressing to meet up with the person I love only on the weekend as being romantic or beautiful ( hiding) . An unfulfilled life. What real woman would fall for this. Hogwash! The writer needs a course and assistance on how to end a love story. I did however love the cast and acting .

  19. Totally agree with Diane and Twinkle ……. how do they live out their lives just meeting on weekends and still hiding her. Glad they did not die or lose memories but no heir ……. he called her the “future queen “ what happened….. did the writer forget that line? Overall I’m a huge Lee Min Ho fan !!!!! Great job efforts by the cast.

  20. Lots of questions yet to be understood enough, and we know that it is up to us how to define and how to think of the endings. But the still I wanted to ask, such as who is the yo-yo boy. How’s court Lady Noh secret and ever she knew bout what haooened to her family in Korea? as she was actually from Korea (coz it was the previous king brought her to Corea). How’s only Jo Young and Tae Eul remembers the past that happened due to the flute, it’s logic if Lee Gon remembers coz he is the owner of the flute, but the Tae Eul and Jo Young? 🤔🤔🤔

  21. leaving the ending to our imagination is bullshit. the king never got married? I was waiting for the classic ending and it was weak felt like they did not even try to make the different universe come together. so what now? they just travel together until they get old?
    never get to marry? and the king doesn’t have children? that’s absurd. they should have got married. my whole day is ruined, never expected lee min ho’s drama ending can be this bad…

  22. Anxiously, I had to read the comments first before watching the final episode and I feel soo relieved it ended well. I’ve always anticipated every second of this and now, I am ready to finally watch this with a smile! whooooooo yeaaahhhh!!!!!👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻🥀☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️😂😂😂😂😂💕💕💟💟💟

  23. whats the yo yo boy represents?how can he be young and teeneger and adult at a same time?

  24. Thank you for recapping it… I must say this drama is super legit man for you who hasn’t watch it go watch it now…this is the best drama I’ve ever seen so far and for those who doesn’t like historical drama it’s ok and just try it this drama is not a boring “kingdom” tipe of drama the definition of the drama itself is in this era (this year) so it is more of a modern side ..I promise it will not disappoint you and the finale is much betterrrr than the word “happy ending” itself .

  25. Why was there no wedding!?!? Just seeing each other on the weekends for the rest of their lives is totally unrealistic! The king needs to get married and have an heir! Why didn’t the ending show something of more substance like a royal wedding or how they could merge the 2 worlds or something so that she could stay in his world and be his queen? I know some dramas have an ending where it’s up to viewers’ imagination how it ends, but just seeing them travel on the weekends is such a cop out! The beginning of the finale was like wow amazing! But the ending was like REALLY?? You’re going to end with just 2 old wrinkly hands? Weak. That CAN’T be the ending to an awesome drama! You get this feeling of disappointment… like if there was just a little more effort in the last 2 minutes of the finale.. you’d feel better about it. Ah well, maybe it’s because I read somewhere a spoiler of a royal wedding and 2 kingdoms uniting… and that got me very excited. Now I’m just disappointed. Boys over flowers was amazing for me when I was younger. Lee Min Ho was also great in this drama. But sadly I think I’m going to avoid kdramas now due to weak endings like this! 🙁

  26. at least it’s a happy ending, hope k drama fans have come to appreciate the plot of the story, thanks to the whole cast, the writer and esp to lee minho, kim goeun & the ever loyal boduly guard woo dohwan, i really love this guy ever since i’ve seen tempted, keep it up guys..,,

  27. I just loved it. Lee min ho and kim go eun we special together. I loved every minute. Sad it’s over.

  28. He as a king would have had to get married no? To leave an heir??? I wounder how they worked around that???? lol

  29. LG is focussed on killing LL and saving LJH in RoK. Many of the other characters are also shown to be alive and living well in their respective worlds after the time reset.
    He goes back to the night of the treason twice. The second time he is there quite early (he remarks that it will be at least 20 minutes before the traitors arrive at the gate) and presumably the confrontation between the king and LL is still going on.
    What I cannot understand is this – why does he not stop the treason from happening in the first place?

  30. It has been a wonderful, lovely and adventurous journey with The King! I looked beyond the little kinks and some people complaining about too much product endorsements. (Really if that’s what you watched for then you missed all the lovely moments) Loved this drama so much. Congratulations to the cast and production team. Wishing Kim Go-eun and Lee Minho all the best! Looking forward to the next!

  31. Loved every minute of this show. I do wish Tae-Eul and Lee Gon could have lived together as a married couple with children.

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