Plain and simple, the entire episode revolves around the clashing ideas and war. War starts, neither side welcome this fight yet none will back down. Enok is being thrown between the two men to place her OUT of danger. She chooses, as always, to go to Gil Dong, despite all the constraints that have been effectively confining her in the last two or three episodes. At one point, Enok asks Gil Dong how far he wants to go. He provides no answer, instead the camera moves to the confrontation between Chang Whui’s men and Hwang Bin Dang where the same question was raised. Hwang Bin Dang answers that the world behind them is how far they will go. Until they change the world to the one they live in, they won’t stop. They totally forget that the ONLY reason there’s no landlord, no oppression, and no rich and poor in the dream world they live in is because they obtain all their life’s necessities from Oppressing the rich nobles In The Real World.
Gil Dong has Enok deliver a letter to Chang Whui. The letter turns out to be a blank sheet of paper intending to send Enok away to safety. Enok (heartlessly!) asserts her determination to go back to Gil Dong in front of Chang Whui (while completely and utterly ignoring how much Chang Whui really needs her and helped her!!). She compares Chang Whui’s attack as a desperate attempt to protect the throne that’s most valuable to him with her need to go to Gil Dong as he is her most important person. (Not exactly the same thing dear, a King needs to solidify his power in order to eradicate anarchy and impose order.) Chang Whui lets her go in the end. Oh the pain. She returns to Gil Dong, who now respects her choice to stay. At night she cleans his wounds for him. He hugs her out of appreciation and they get married. Yes, just like that. So much for fated to be queen huh? They are not the only ones to marry, Mal Nyeo and Su Geun follow suite not long after. The wedding is completed with Enok putting flowers in Mal Nyeo’s hair. Then the two pairs of newly weds kiss. Enok drags Gil Dong to see a bud growing on the ground one day, they fantasize about what it will grow out to be. A pinch of hope in the midst of all the bloodshed. Gil Dong sends Gom to safety, telling him to carry on Hwang Bin Dang’s, I mean Gil Dong’s legacy and live to see the world change. Chang Whui on the other hand wants to finish things up quickly. As more and more forces are added, the fight finally ends with a shower of shooting-star (oh the interjected symbols of hope) resembling fire arrows that obliterated everything, which only symbolizes renewal and rebirth. While watching the arrows, Gil Dong and Enok peacefully hold hands together, facing their ends. Such unbreakable bond, they unite even in death (assuming they die from the understated scene).
Gil Dong and Hwang Bin Dang may die, but their legacy transcend over time taking different forms. The drama ends with the monk encountering a kid similar to when he met Gil Dong. As he tells the kid stories of Gil Dong, the camera shifts to the modern day Korean to show that even if Gil Dong is dead, his dream lives on till today. But honey, it’s one thing for an idea to withstand the test of time, another for it to pass the test of plausibility/practicality. But a world without stubborn, unrealistic dreamers would be way too boring right? Especially for the drama watching audiences.
It’s not quite the happily-ever-after ending most people had hoped, but definitely a very sad but hopeful one. With the flow of things, there is simply no other way for it to end.
I just can’t help but to feel even more sympathetic for Chang Whui. After all Gil Dong is the own-it-all man who has the fame, the people, the loyalty, the love, and the girl(!). What about Chang Whui? He only has, let’s count, his royal birth and the Restricted power of his majesty’s kingship. To rub it in the face, Gil Dong and Enok absolutely had to marry in the last episode (although they are so cute together). If a typical coming of age heroic journey means to face obstacles alone, Gil Dong had it a little easy, no?
At least letting go of an misery ensuing unrequited love is a relief and a start of possibilities for Chang Whui, after he gets past the bereavement, if ever. Honestly if Chang Whui weren’t so charismatic with gaining support and empathy, Gil Dong and Enok would make a very, very cute couple.
Regarding the first episode, as it never appears twice, it may be the folk story of Hong Gil Dong before the “real” story of Hong Gil Dong, or it could be the Hong Gil Dong story/ideal elsewhere represented by the characters in Hong Gil Dong.
In any case, this is the last of the Quick Knife Hong Gil Dong story. Let’s just say the gradual change of tone from the fusion-abundant beginning is the Hong sister’s way of deviating HGD from being an enjoy-then-forget drama. The ending surly achieves its goal to make this drama unforgettable. In terms of cinematography, it’s well done for a drama.