Saturday, May 26, 2012

K-Drama Review: Rooftop Prince, Episodes 19-20 Finale

Read Episode reviews for:

Rooftop Prince--Episodes 1-2
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 3-4
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 5-6
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 7-8
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 9-10
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 11-12
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 13-14
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 15-16
Rooftop Prince--Episodes 17-18

Contains Spoilers for Episodes 19-20

Our time-travelling romantic comedy is finally ending, so let's settle down for a long look at the Rooftop Prince finale!

Park Ha is hit by Taemu's car and knocked into a lake. Taemu and Sena flee the crime scene, natch. Yi Gak can't process the accident for a few moments, because it reminds him of his wife's death in the Joseon era. He's moaning and weeping like a little child, just on the verge of being deranged.

Park Ha has a liver injury from the car accident and she needs a transplant from Sena. Yi Gak finally tells Sena about the reincarnation and how she and Park Ha used to be sisters in the Joseon era, too: "You are the only person who can save Park Ha now. You can break this evil cycle". Yi Gak gives up the evidence he was holding against Sena and Taemu, and says he doesn't need retribution anymore, he just needs Park Ha alive. (That's just you, Prince--I'm still plenty ready for retribution!) Sena painfully recalls every rotten thing she's ever done to Park Ha, and there are a lot of them.

Never Going to Win the "Big Sister of the Year" Award.

But Taemu's not above using Park Ha's tragic accident (which he caused) for his own gain. He wants all of Yi Gak's shares in the shopping company in exchange for the use of Sena's liver. (What-what the whatting what? Grr.)  But it's a double-cross, and Taemu takes the company shares and flees with Sena, heading for a boat that will take them overseas. Fortunately, Sena double-double crosses him and lets Yi Gak know where they're going.

Cue a big showdown fight by the wharf. The Joseon sidekicks drive Sena to the hospital where she prepares for the surgery, and Taemu and Yi Gak have a bloody fistfight that somehow does not result in one of them being punched into the water. People being punched into large bodies of water is almost a motif for this show.

Taemu gets caught by the police, but he's not really punished the way we'd like. He's going to prison on all kinds of major charges, but it still seems like his end is lacking something. Police finding a bad guy and taking him to jail just seems so anticlimactic after all Taemu has put everyone through.

Park Ha's surgery goes well, and Sena holds her unconscious hand, for once acting like the unnie (big sister) that she ought to be. I didn't really want Sena to get redeemed, but it's kind of sweet even if her change of heart seemed to come right out of nowhere. Sena's going to have to go to jail too, but her sister, birth mom, and adopted mom all forgive her because she saved Park Ha.

Okay, That's a Decent Ending. I'll Take it.

Now that Park Ha's life is no longer in danger, the Joseon guys have to think about her finances. The three boys all start part-time jobs which result in them getting piles of money in just a few days. Yongsul becomes a skilled extra in Joseon historical dramas (love the meta!), Chisan plays traditional instruments as a street musician, and super genius Manbo writes a romance ebook called "Joseon Scandal".

I Would So Read That.

They buy Park Ha a new vegetable store and fix it up. Yi Gak tells her it's so she can go on with her life after they're gone. Park Ha doesn't want to plan for her future, though. She wants to marry Yi Gak right now, so she can have the memory of being married to him before he goes. She proposes and he says no, because he thinks it will hurt her in the long run. He finally does agree to the marriage, because their time together is running out; Chisan disappears and goes back to Joseon, and then Manbo and Yongsul vanish as well.

Park Ha and Yi Gak spend the rest of the day holding hands, even while they eat. They don't want to miss a single second together. The next morning, they go out on their rose-festooned rooftop and say their vows to each other, alone.

Possibly the Best K-Drama Wedding Ever.

Then he begins to disappear. Park Ha says a few last tear-filled words to her new husband, and then he's gone forever.

Doggone it, I need some tissues. Kleenex break!

And as if the writers of Rooftop Prince knew that we needed a break from all that harshness, Episode 20 begins with Yi Gak landing in a barnyard in the past, staring down a flustered rooster.

And With That, All Tears Have Dried.

Next thing he knows, he runs into Chisan, followed by Manbo and Yongsul, who have brought extra historical garb for their pals. And it turns out that a massive plot has been going down in Joseon, perpetrated by none other than...historical Taemu!

With a New and Improved Villain Beard.

Turns out, only one night has passed in Joseon, though the guys spent months in the modern world. It's like a Narnia time-warp.

Flashback to the day before (actually months before) when Yi Gak went to visit Booyoung, Park Ha's Joseon double and posed this riddle to her: "What dies while still living and what lives while still dying?" Booyoung didn't know the answer, but she did know that some plot was afoot. The Crown Princess was acting suspicious, and the king's older half-brother (Taemu!) was lurking around Booyoung's house.

The Crown Princess tried to poison Yi Gak's food, but Booyoung ate the whole plate of poisoned food to save the prince from his fate. Booyoung goes outside to sit by a lake and die, still thinking about the prince that she loves. As a last request, she asks the Crown Princess to trade out clothes with her so that Booyoung can "drown" in the lake and no one will find out about the attempted poisoning.

It was Booyoung's sacrificial and wrongful death that started this whole chain of time-travelling. It was like the universe itself couldn't stand for the Prince and Booyoung's story to end this way, so it arranged for the wildest series of events, just so that Yi Gak could know the truth and could come to love at least one version of Booyoung.

A major swordfight ensues between Historical Taemu's fighters and the king's guard. The good guys win. Yi Gak sentences Historical Taemu and everyone else involved in the plot to execution by beheading, while the Crown Princess and her mother are sentenced to exile on a deserted island. Now, that's more like it! Yi Gak writes a letter to Park Ha and leaves it in a secret hiding spot for her to find in the future. Present-day Park Ha finds the letter and thinks of his sweet words as she runs her juice store. And then...

...a familiar face walks inside.

Looky Who Just Woke Up Out of His Coma!

It's Taeyong, the present-day version of Yi Gak. But she doesn't even look up at him as he orders his juice! Never mind. I have a feeling he'll come back. In Joseon, a running gag comes around full circle as Chisan, Manbo, and Yongsul open a popular restaurant serving omurice. The three guys still go to eat with Yi Gak, and they all secretly wear their brightly-colored tracksuits under their historical garb. Too cute. Yi Gak tears up while eating the omurice and thinking of Park Ha.

In the present, Taeyong leaves a note for Park Ha to meet up with him. But then when she meets him, he turns into Yi Gak, complete with his kingly robes. We end there. I'm confused as anything, but whatever. They're together at last!

Things I Loved:

1. Meaningful Loss. When we start losing beloved characters to the inexplicable time-warp, it hurts to see them go. Chisan disappears first, and it's like a death-knell for everyone else. They know that they could disappear at any time, and the audience is left to wonder who will be departing next, and when. It makes for great dramatic tension, so bravo!

Five Seconds Ago, This Elevator Contained 4 People.

2. The Emotions. I love this show for making me sad, I really do. It's a testament to how great a couple Yi Gak and Park Ha are, that even in the midst of some very silly and overblown corporate plots, we had a hero and heroine we could bond with, admire, and miss.

3. Joseon! It's so cool to be back in the past. The plots and schemes are more interesting when there's a kingdom at stake instead of a shopping company.

And The Robes Are Awesomer.


1. Nice, Neat Villain Tie-Ups. The baddies in the past are punished properly, but I didn't want the villain subplot in the present to just be settled the way it was. I want the villains to be dealt with in an extreme fashion, and to get an end that involved poetic justice!

I Had Hoped For a Keelhauling Or Tar-and-Feathering.

2. Park Ha's Injury. It was dealt with pretty quickly and it did allow for one villain redemption, but Park Ha's hospitalization felt kind of redundant. I was afraid they would put her in a room next to Taeyong and they'd be stuck in his-and-hers matching comas.

So Many Injuries in This Show.


Always Repay Kindness: The Joseon guys work to repay Park Ha for all the trouble she's had in rescuing them. Sena also decides to repay Park Ha for her sweetness. I find it interesting that past-Sena was not redeemable and present-Sena's repentance and redemption is partly to pay for what the Crown Princess did to Booyoung.

Home is Where the Heart Is: Park Ha has a chance to get married in a really nice wedding hall, but instead she opts to tie the knot in the place that means the most to her--the rooftop apartment.

A Small Home Wedding With No Frills.

Reincarnation: Booyoung explains that the lotus flower (which can be called "Booyoung" or "Park Ha") is the symbol of reincarnation. It's also her answer to the Prince's riddle, "What dies while still living and what lives while still dying?" Booyoung may die, but Park Ha is still alive.

Watch it HERE on DramaFever.

Episode Evaluations: Not gonna lie, the end of episode 19 made me cry like a baby. Rooftop Prince makes you feel all the feelings! And Episode 20 was mostly exciting and mostly satisfying.

While this show may have flounced and floundered a lot in its 20-episode run, and it certainly seemed unsure of when to emphasize its own best points, it still managed to be a sweet, crazy love story that could be both touching and entertaining. I think the pacing and logic were all over the place, but ultimately I'm glad I watched Rooftop Prince. The solid acting, colorful humor, and believable depiction of true love were worth tuning in for.

This is Tiger Holland, signing out and looking up recipes for omurice.


  1. i'm still confused by the end of this story.. why they suddenly changed? is taeyong reborn with a memory as yi gak? or that is new taeyong and they start all over again??

    1. I have no idea. I checked other blogs to see what they thought had happened, and most people think that Park Ha is imagining Taeyong is Yi Gak's clothes, so that the viewing audience will know that although it's Taeyong with Park Ha, he has the same soul as Yi Gak and is basically the same person. I think it's also hinted that Taeyong now has Yi Gak's memories...

      I wish the ending was clearer, too! I'd like a little more closure. :-)

    2. I think they both reincarnated so now the future bo young and crown prince can be with each other and love each other a hundred years later

    3. I think (and am pretty sure) it's Tae-yong physically, but... how to put it... with Lee Gak's heart, soul, and memories of 300 years ago. Look at the way he stands when finally the tourists disappear; two hands at the back, which is Jeonha's trademark. Tae-yong doesn't have that trait.

      And about the dialogue, "why are you so late? I waited from a long ago" | "Where were you? Because I've been here all this time" kinda gives the hint that they are talking about thing that should have happened centuries ago, which is them being together.

  2. i was hoping for a scene that shows tae yong getting yi gak's memories, i mean, like during his comatose state etc. even though i like how it ends for the joseon era, i don't feel satisfied enough for the seoul ending, i mean they should do a better job in wrapping it for park ha. that made me feels like tae yong is a whole different person.

    1. Yes, a memory-receiving scene would have been perfect! All it would take is 30 seconds of screentime to let the audience see that Taeyong knows everything about Park Ha that Yi Gak knew.

      Taeyong wasn't ever a character that we really got to know, so when the writers didn't make it obvious that Taeyong has those memories, it can feel like Park Ha is getting paired with a stranger! While poor Yi Gak is stuck on his side of the timeline, forever alone...

  3. I agree with what has been said, the very last scene was odd and leaves one wondering. I am inclined to think that Park Ha imagined Tae Yong as Yi Gak but who knows?

    It is a bit odd how Yi Gak more or less magically found out all about who had died, and how and whatnot. For me the most beautiful part of these final episodes is actually Boo Yong eating the poisoned fruits. It seems like something a Joseon woman would do to show her undying devotion to her one true love, it is tragic and makes the solution to the riddle ever so meaningful.
    That she then has enough time to pen down such a beautifully written letter with amazing calligraphy while coughing blood is a tad too much.

    I'm not too sure I understand how they managed to mistake one body for another. Considering the scar on Boo Yong's face and all. Surely, as a crown princess they would give her a state funeral that presented the body.

    Also, last time I checked we only have on liver and we need it to live. Had Se Na given hers to Park Ha she would have died herself. The whole thing was put there for extra drama and for Se Na to redeem herself.

    I too feared another coma, it would have been way too much. Ultimately the Joseon part of the finale seemed much better handled than the present, which is a bit of shame but overall it was a good show and I am glad I gave it a chance.

    So true that with a kingdom on the line the stakes are higher and much more interesting than a shopping company.

    1. Booyoung's sacrifice was the most beautiful thing ever. And it made sense that she would eat the fruit instead of just hurling the plate away from Yi Gak, because that would reveal her family's position as plotters, and she wants to protect Dad and Hwayoung.

      In general, I think historical women have a greater capacity for tragedy, because of the constraints and limitations of their world. There are so few actions they are allowed to perform, so the big gestures they make are that much more meaningful.

    2. There is something very deliberate in slowly eating fruit that you know will kill you and still be able to bow formally as you leave the room to die. It makes the corresponding scene in the present pale a bit; the whole dashing in front of an incoming car thing has been seen a lot and in this case it was shot in such a way as to give the impression Park Ha had plenty of time to warn Yi Gak. When she does save him it is not as impactful.

      Come to think about it, Boo Yong is probably the smartest character in the entire series. She joins the dots with remarkable speed unlike everyone else that takes forever to figure anything out.

      Her father is not the sharpest tool in the shed, it makes no sense to send the incriminating letter through his younger daughter without even adding instructions for the princess to destroy it as soon as she read it.

      You are absolutely right about the impositions on women in historical times. This reminded me of the movie Duelist, about a woman detective in Joseon times (or there abouts).

      The one smart twist was adding Tae Mu to the past plot.

    3. Park Ha saving Yi Gak from that car had next to no impact (pun intended). I watched the scene with a 9-year-old who asked: "Why didn't the guy hear the car coming? Why didn't the girl yell at him to get out of the way?" Why indeed. If a child can find logic flaws in your sacrificial scene, perhaps it needs retooling. :-)

      I recall Yi Gak saying that he enjoyed Booyoung's wit and storytelling--it seems that she's always been the brains in her family. I think I'd watch a whole sageuk show focused entirely on supersmart Booyoung, so it's rough that we really only see her in eps 1 and 20.

    4. @Nocturnal For the most part I agree with your comments. This is the kind of show you REALLY can't look at too deeply that way, cuz it's full of those types of lil plotholes, lol. :p Altho, the part about the liver actually was somewhat realistic. Just b/c they were sisters did NOT mean SeNa automatically qualified as a donor. However, a person really can donate a piece of their liver and still live. I forget the percentage. But anyway, that part at least was realistic. :)

      @Tiger I just finished this show, and enjoyed it for the most part. The beginning was uber-confusing, but still fun. I never managed to connect all that well with any of the characters as I have w/ other dramas, but the story was wacky enough to keep me sufficiently entertained. :) When the 3 stooges (I've been calling them that in my head since ep1) began disappearing, I totally freaked, like, "NOOO! Not my stooges!" The way YiGak and ParkHa compulsively held hands after that was just too.. I want to say sweet, but it also added to the tension. As if their lives depended on their holding on. Whatever, I just loved it! The scene where he disappears after they say their vows made me tear up too. Which I find kinda funny in hindsight since the whole situation in general was so "out there". Props to them for making me all emotional! And I loved our trip back to Joseon. Everything that happened there was a lot cooler to me than the whole modern-day thing. I agree w/ you guys that w/out the stooges and such this show might not have been interesting enough to hold my attention. And BooYoung rocks! She was a cool character, it really is too bad she was only in a couple eps. As a side point, you mentioned in a previous ep comment that you liked TaeMu's actor. He also plays an important secondary character in the rom/com Playful Kiss. I loved seeing him again and was impressed by his acting skills, since he played such a lovable sweetie in that show. I respest an actor when I can see him in something and not automatically think of his previous roles. BTW, that show's funny, but the lead male isn't that great an actor and the chemistry between the leads wasn't so great, either, prob also more b/c of the lead male than anything else. (If you never hear from me again, I was probably murdered by said actor's huge and scary fan-base for saying he can't act. As a plea for mercy, I'll agree that yes, he is cute. ;D)

    5. True, it's fun to look around for RTP plot holes with friends, but if you want to get the full fun out of Rooftop Prince, just coasting and nodding your head is the best strategy. Because, holy cow, only one out of every five choices made by any character makes sense.

      I thought I recalled that--that a person can donate some fraction of their liver tissue, and still be okay. Giving up a "sliver of liver" perhaps? Now I'm getting morbid...

      Those 3 Stooges made the show! If it weren't for their adorable and totally dedicated take on the comedy, I'm not sure I would have stuck with RTP, not even for Micky Yoochun.

      The desperation in that hand-holding was genius! The potential for disappearance added so much oomph to the gesture.

      We're speaking of Kim Hyun Joong on that last show mentioned, I believe. Yeah. It's a good thing he's lovely, because the acting with him is just...*trails off* *nervously eyes KHJ fangirls*

    6. i think RTP was not focusing on more about seoul but the story was all about jeosun but because of the tragic happenings they are investigating but a white light made them to seoul... and they sudden realize that the answer to the crown princess death was just in seoul.. and by chance, it is proven that boo young was the crown princess.. the scene in the (fishing stuff) i think the thought of it is just to remind who was the killer and what is it's motive.. since in the jeosun era (taemu) there wants to kill yi gak so as in the seoul, then by chance park ha save him again.. but although boo young died in in jeosun era,, the thought there maybe one of the reason why they 4 boys send to seoul is to solve the crime in jeoson and protect park ha by death in seoul.. by fate they are meant to be happend and to correct it from how it going to be...

      RTP made my heart jump to nervously heart attack...but anyway it was a very very amazing drama... i so love it...

  4. Replies
    1. Butterfly~ quite confusing but it was Bu-Yong's answer.

  5. So love the ending. Better watch it now!

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  8. it's makes me feel all the emotions.. every chapter has it's thrill, suspense, drama, love-story, comedy.. i so love that couple.. how i wish they will make drama movies together again... prince yi gak! i so love you. <3 i hope i can see you someday... boo young you make the movie very the way in the last episode the real tae yong alive from his comatose? well if he did... it's okey that park ha will like him as real tae yong besides tae yong like her also when they are in new york:)

    seriously it makes my heart cry and made my eyes tears to fall down..HHHHHHHHHHHHHAaaaaaaaaaaaay!

  9. I really hat it when Lee Gak had to live without Boo Young in Joseon while Park Ha has Tae Yong. What's the sense of time travelling And giving all the beautiful memories to Lee Gak and Park Ha in Seoul?? Yes, there was reincarnation but it's quite UNFAIR for Lee Gak now that Boo Young's dead. Oh my God! Now, I can say that Rooftop Prince is definitely on great drama because up until now, I can't move on! Memories are sooo good if you can't let them go. I just really feel sorry for Lee Gak. Tsk. I hope there will be part 2. Let Tae Yong die again and put Lee Gak back n Seoul. Hahahahahahaha. Please RTP writers??????? Start the brainstorming and shoot it now :))))

  10. Thanks for the review! It was entertaining and I liked your witty reflections. Sorry for jumping in a year late but we literally just finished watching the series last night! I don't typically watch K-drama (or any kind of soaps for that matter), but my husband (not Korean) speaks some Korean and we're going to Seoul for a short visit soon so he's brushing up on his Korean (and I'm stuck watching it too). Although I really did get sucked in after the first few episodes as the comedy bits really picked up and so it was definitely entertaining. I felt that the storyline had a lot more potential than they did justice to it. For instance, all through the series I kept wondering what we're not getting to learn about went on in Joseon period. Instead they just delivered/revealed all the necessary information from that period in the final episode. I think it would have been better if they did a little back and forth between the modern and Joseon period as that we can see some of the parallels as they came to light. I liked the mirroring of the "riddle" of the lotus flower and Park Ha/Boo Yung's story. That was a nice touch. It was also weird that while all the other main characters got their counterpart "previous life" person, Tae Moo didn't come to light (although one obviously expects it all along) until the final episode as well. Again, would have been good if they did more back and forth between the time periods for such a reason. The other annoying thing is that in the last few final episodes there were a lot of unrealistic things done in the name of dramatization. As was already mentioned in a previous comment here, the scene when Park Ha got hit by Tae Moo with the car would not have gone down that way in real life. So many other things would have occurred that would not involve various people standing around with their mouths gaping. Why did Park Ha not scream out of warn the Prince, why did she not just fall on top of the Prince in the momentum of her rush to push him out of harm's way, why did the Prince keep on going towards obvious dangers without bringing along his 3 henchmen for extra safety and precaution, why did Park Ha willingly get into Tae Moo's car when she knows he's a bad guy, on and on. I think the actions of the characters need to be somewhat more realistic where people would be convince that, Yeah, sure, that could totally happen that way. The emotions evoked by the bond between the 2 lovers is one of the best thing about this series though. And it was sad that in the Joseon era, the Prince did not end up getting to spend the rest of that lifetime with the Boo Yung. Which I guess is the bittersweet of disappointed hopes of one lifetime that has the potential to be redeemed in a future lifetime. Se Na "broke the cycle of evil" and the Prince's actions in the modern period helped pave the way for his reincarnation, Tae Yong, to be with his destined love, Park Ha. In a way I'm glad that the writers didn't sugarcoat reality by allowing Boo Yung to survive to be with her Prince. As in real life the good don't necessarily get what they deserve and tragedy happens all the time.