Youth Of May – K-Drama Episode 12 (Finale/Ending) Recap & Review

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The Locket Of Time

Episode 12 of Youth of May begins this finale with a phone call. It’s May 2021 and whoever is on the phone declares that he’s found her.

Hee-Tae and Myung-Hee discuss their dreams and prayers, with the former hoping that he’s buried with Myung-Hee when he dies. Alone, they both stage a mock ceremony. Only, they’re interrupted by an official bringing Myung-Hee outside. It’s bad news. Hyun-Chul has been killed and while little Myung-Soo has survived, it’s still a bitter pill to swallow.

Among his belongings, Myung-Hee finds a letter and a savings account. Within this, Hyun-Chul discusses his daughter’s life and how proud he is that her wings have become strong and allowed her to fly so high; by comparison, his wings have been clipped.

Elsewhere, Ki-Nam finds himself under investigation after killing Hye-Gun last episode. However, he’s certainly not done with Myung-Hee yet. He decides to hire someone to go after her and teach the girl a lesson. Trouble brews at home though as Hae-Ryung files for a divorce. Ki-Nam refuses to accept it and even tells his wife that Jung-Tae will choose him.

Soo-Chan finds himself questioning his entire life, wracked with guilt from living so luxuriously while the others he was incarcerated with were treated so poorly. In order to atone for that, Soo-Chan and Soo-Ryeon both work together to move supplies to help the victims of the uprising.

Soo-Ryeon’s father appears though and tells him to open all their storefronts and help as many as they can. It’s a redemptive move, one that finally sees him see sense and turn away from Ki-Nam’s evil ways.

While Myung-Hee pays her respects, Hee-Tae sends a message across requesting she join him in the service center. Only…it’s not actually Myung-Hee. A soldier shows up and looks set to shoot her when she’s walking away until Jung-Tae jumps in and wrestles the gun away. Unfortunately Jung-Tae is shot in the leg in the process.

Ki-Nam and Hae-Ryung show up and see the devastation. As everyone hurries to the hospital, Ki-Nam is left behind to realize the error of his ways.

However, Myung-Soo goes missing prompting Myung-Hee and Hee-Tae to both head out and try to find him. In doing so, Hee-Tae hands over his locket and tells Myung-Hee to stay safe.

Unfortunately Hee-Tae is stopped by soldiers after they split up. He looks set to die too, until one of the soldiers speaks up and vouches for him, claiming he’s from Gwangju and knows he’s innocent.

Soldiers close in on Myung-Hee, who decides to confront them and explain that she’s a nurse. She promises Myung-Soo she’ll catch up with him and takes off. Only, as Myung-Soo runs off, a soldier looks set to shoot, prompting Myung-Hee to get in the way of the bullet and stop her brother from dying. This brave, selfless act results in Myung-Hee passing away.

Given how Hee-Tae was saved, he finds himself looking desperately for Myung-Hee. It’s no good, he’s lost his love.

We then jump forward to Seoul in 2021. It’s been years since the uprising and Hee-Tae is now a Professor at the University hospital. He certainly doesn’t take any grief from rowdy patients and even encourages other doctors to keep fighting, including an intern called Seo-On.

However, he’s called over to see a woman named Seok-Chul. Through their dialogue we learn that Soo-Ryeon is actually a lawyer while Myung-Soo is a priest. They don’t have good news though, as it turns out they’ve found Myung-Hee.

The guy from the train station happens to be Kim Kyung-Soo, the soldier who let Myung-Soo go in the woods. He runs into Hee-Tae and shakes his head, struggling to hold back tears.

Among those items Hee-Tae possesses, courtesy of Kyung-Soo, is the locket and a letter; a prayer of sorts asking them to have the strength to swim through life with clarity. In exchange, Hee-Tae leaves a note for his love. It’s been 41 years since he lost Myung-Hee and ever since, he hasn’t been able to move on. In fact, he even tried drowning himself. Now though, he’s going to do his best to live, as he walks away from the graveyard and we fade to black.

The Episode Review

Youth of May bows out with a poignant and sad ending, one that gives a bittersweet resolution to our story while also allowing the tragedy and the horrors of the Gwangju Uprising to hang heavy over this drama.

The reveal that Kyung-Soo is the one at the train station all this time is a nice reveal and certainly one final twist in the story.

However, this tragic tale of love, greed and sadness has been really well worked across the 12 episodes and the screenplay has been beautifully written. In a way, there really couldn’t be anything but a sad ending for such a difficult subject in Korean history. As sad as it was seeing Myung-Hee pass away, narratively it makes sense to really hammer home the loss of life and the tragic passing of time.

In a way this romance was always going to end in tragedy and there’s no way a happy ending would have worked with this one. The final shots of Hee-Tae walking away reinforce that, with the distinct lack of music helping to hammer that home.

While it would have been nice to see a bit more about Ki-Nam and his family after the flash forward, to be fair what we get is good enough to draw our own conclusion about what happened. Seeing Jung-Tae injured and hurt certainly shows that Ki-Nam has a heart but I’d assume that ship has already sailed and there’s no way Jung-Tae or Hae-Ryung will trust him now.

Youth of May has been a really solid drama and what began as a quirky love triangle has soon blossomed into something far more poignant and hard hitting. This has been a solid drama and one of the more surprising entries on the calendar this year. A must-watch finale for a must-watch drama.


Read More: Youth of May Ending Explained

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7 thoughts on “Youth Of May – K-Drama Episode 12 (Finale/Ending) Recap & Review”

  1. I agree with the comment that it doesn’t make sense about the finding of the body Why didn’t Hae tee look in the forest where he had left her The soldier also knew where she was Also how come her body was so deep when they eventually found her Other than that I loved the series

  2. Important kdrama for me – I had never heard of the Kwanju massacre and although this was eventually a sad story this and other well written kdramas have taught me so much. Korea is a country I visited for many years on business and whose people I have always admired but one whose history I didn’t really understand. The birth of democracy in Korea was hard (as it has been everywhere including in my own country the U.K.). Well written, beautifully acted (not a single dud) and it will stay with me as a sincere representation of why Koreans are the democratic nation that they are. Bravo Korea.

  3. I agree with Rager 100%! I made similar comments on several sites about the ending. I sympathize and don’t ignore the real life tragedy of the Gwangju uprise, very sad and tragic. But the love story of Heetae and
    Myunghee is one of the best ever written, the drama would’ve been up there with CLOY had the ending been different, an ending like what Rager wrote.

  4. Great first 7 episodes! If your going to include a great fictional love story you should at least let them find each other in the end. Something like them being separated and captured finding each other 10 years later would have been a much better ending instead of letting her die with a accidental gun shot. When writers don’t have enough creativity to write an ending the easy way out is to force tragedy on top of tragedy. Weak if you ask me to a strong drama.

  5. I just don’t understand why it took 41 years to find her body if the soldier knew where she died and Hwang Hee Tae saw her in the forest for the last time, he could come back to see her after being released.

  6. Hey Rubisco, thanks so much for your kind words! Generally the full season review accompanying this goes into a lot more detail on the show as a whole, however I’ve taken your advice onboard and just gone back in and written a bit more in the review section. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it!

    -Greg W

  7. I wished your reviews were longer! But, I do agree. I like how they didn’t sugarcoat the tragedies and atrocities that happened and at least gave us some insight about people’s sentiments and the tragic loss people have experienced, and sort of used this love story to portray the pain and suffering (of course, it’s incomparable to those who’ve undergone the uprising). I guess the love story sort of “somehow” eased us into the tragic ending.

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