It’s the Romance is a Bonus Book finale! It’s been a sweet and sentimental, funny and, at times, sad journey, but I have truly loved every minutes of it. So, will we finally find out the truth about Kang Byeong-jun and his relationship to Seo-jun? Of course we will! This is a K-drama after all! Let’s dive in for the last time!
We left off last week with Dan-i finding out about Kang Byeong-jun’s mysterious circumstances. Sadly, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and had been being cared for by Eun-ho all this time. As she reads his journal where he admits he will lose the ability to communicate, we see flashbacks to Eun-ho caring for him over the years – and it wasn’t always easy. Eun-ho had a terrible time – even saving Mr Kang at one point from suicide. Mr Kang made Eun-ho promise that he’d die as “Writer Kang” rather than a senile man.
It was a heartbreaking few scenes to watch. Dan-i thinks about how hard it must have been for Eun-ho to keep this secret and listen to people criticise the situation. Dan-i cries, her heart breaking for the man she loves. When Eun-ho comes home and realises what she’s discovered, he comforts her and tells her he’s ok and Dan-i tells him she believes he made the right choice in helping Mr Kang.
Of course, the other big story from last week was the submission of the manuscript for The Heroes. And sent in by none other than Seo-jun. Hae-rin is busy reading through the manuscript and making notes as she goes.
Then, there’s a surprise development in the Mr Bong/Ms Seo saga. Mr Bong turns up at an author’s house wearing a party hat and is singing “happy birthday” to someone. The author doesn’t seem that happy to see him and that’s because he has a female visitor – Ms Seo! Turns out she’s been sleeping with one of their authors! Mr Bong is devastated that she doesn’t think what they had was special. Ms Seo acts very tough and part of me is hoping she’s just bluffing. But deep down, I don’t think she is. I think it might really be over between them which is very sad. Sad that Mr Bong hasn’t really even tried to make amends and win her back.
That night, Eun-ho gets a call from Hae-rin who breaks the news about the manuscript. She meets him in a cafe and tells him the envelope had a fake return address and fake phone number. She says either Mr Kang has come back or someone is copying his style. Eun-ho says he’ll take the manuscript and look over it. He decides to email the author – “Park Jung-hoon” – and tell him he’d like to speak over the phone so he includes his own phone number. Cut to Seo-jun reading the email who responds that he only wants to communicate in this format and gives a one week deadline to make a publishing decision. I’m really confused. What is the motive here? I am dying to find out.
At her new job, Dan-i is still fielding calls from people who haven’t been paid. The owners tell her they love her marketing proposal but would love it if it was lower-cost – i.e. free. And she tells them she really thinks they should reconsider publishing the manuscript they’re working on because it’s not very unique. After work Eun-ho and Dan-i go to the library and kiss behind books and it’s all very cute. I want this in my life! On the way home she tells him how much she loves the poetry book they published when she was at Gyeoroo and they recite a poem from it – again, very sweet.
Park Hoon and Ji-yul are on the bus and Ji-yul is upset she’s not working on The Heroes. Hae-rin told her they need to verify the identity of the author and to keep it a secret. Ji-yul goes ahead and blabs to Park Hoon. He’s not listening anyway, and logs into what looks like Tinder. He connects with someone and ditches Ji-yul! LOL. Ji-yul isn’t happy and tracks him down at Subway. When he goes to the bathroom, Ji-yul rushes in and threatens the poor girl! I have to admit … I’m not sure if he’s connected with this girl to date or to network because when he comes back to the table, he asks the girl about her marketing study group and then she tells him he can’t join because his roommate is crazy. Meanwhile, Ji-yul is having trouble dealing with the fact she might have feelings for Park Hoon.
Later that night, Hae-rin is still at the office, working on the manuscript and realises some of it sounds familiar. I bet it’s the shredded paper from Seo-jun’s. It has to be.
The next day, it’s announced that the ideas contest winner will be announced in one week. Park Hoon and Ji-yul start creeping around hoping to catch a glimpse of the managers as they evaluate the proposals. Ji-yul even offers lollipops as a bribe. At home, Dan-i is creeping around trying to see what Eun-ho is doing.
Flash forward to decision day, and the managers are crowded around one proposal about mentoring. They all agree it’s the winner because it’s current and has longevity. So now they look up whose proposal it is. But Eun-ho walks out to get coffee without uttering the name of the winner. The rest of the managers look at the screen and can’t believe it – no surprises here – it’s Dan-i’s proposal. Eun-ho starts dancing in the kitchen. The rest of the managers are at a loss about what to do. They all love the proposal so much but can’t rehire her. Eun-ho couldn’t be more thrilled that Dan-i’s managed to throw such a spanner in the works.
Speaking of, Dan-i is reading over a manuscript that looks like it’s been plagiarised from a bunch of different books. She tries to tell the owner about it but he asks her not to make a big deal about it. He’s already paid the translator and the design is finalised. Dan-i ends up reminiscing about her time at Gyeoroo and how passionate everyone was about putting out the best quality books they could. And it’s such a stark contrast to the unethical behaviour in her current office that she decides to resign on the spot.
Back at the Gyeoroo office, staff are trying to find out why the winner hasn’t been announced yet. The managers clearly don’t know what to do. The CEO is lamenting that he left the competition to open to anyone and blurts out to Ms Go that he doesn’t know what to do about Dan-i. She tells him to create a special recruitment policy and he’s like, omg… can I do that? LOL What an idiot – a very endearing idiot. The staff all overhear this news and look thrilled at the idea of having Dan-i back. I’ve got to say … part of me would be too proud to take a job back there given that they weren’t very supportive of her in the end. But that’s just me.
Anyway, the CEO heads straight to Dan-i’s office where she’s just leaving. He’s literally strutting down the laneway which his trench coat billowing in the wind. He tells her he’s offering her a job and a raise of 150 per cent. And she says she’s doing really well in her current job so he offers her a 200 per cent raise. She says she’s a founding member of this new office and he promises her a spot in the marketing team and then they cheer and high five each other and they’re both thrilled. Yay!
We then cut to Seo-jun who is is eating with his mother. He asks her why she had him and never let his father know. And she basically said things don’t always work out the way you want them to, but she did always want to track his father down again, one day.
Back at the office, Hae-rin is mapping out the characters in The Heroes. Song-i is about to leave but opens up a folder and finds the contract termination forms and realises she didn’t give it to Dan-i after all! (Duh!) She puts takes it to a meeting room to shred but the shredder jams. Ms Go busts her and realises straight away what’s going on. She starts yelling at her and then Hae-rin walks in. Song-i is like, oh well it’s all worked out for the best since Dan-i is getting her job back anyway. Tsk tsk, not nice, Song-i.
But then the paper shredder reminds Hae-rin of the papers at Seo-jun’s place! She runs back to her desk and finds the sentence she’d read in the shredded paper she’d pieced back together. Now she knows Seo-jun is linked to this somehow. She races out and tries to call Eun-ho. But he’s not answering. He’s chatting with Dan-i about her return to work and he says he’s going to Kapyong to visit Mr Kang. They discuss how Mr Kang’s diaries mentioned a son and Eun-ho admits he didn’t understand that reference either – but it could be because of the Alzheimer’s.
Then the doorbell rings and it’s Hae-rin. She bursts in and tells Eun-ho that Seo-jun is the writer behind The Heroes. She tells him about the shredded paper. They then fill Dan-i in on what’s been happening. Dan-i tells them that Seo-jun’s date of birth matches the name of Mr Kang’s last book. Eun-ho and Dan-i both realise that Seo-jun probably the son mentioned in the diaries. I knew it!
Eun-ho he tries to call Seo-jun. When he picks up, Eun-ho asks to meet. They meet in a bar and Eun-ho tells Seo-jun that Mr Kang likes places like this. Then he hands over The Heroes manuscript and Seo-jun pretends to not know what it is. Eun-ho calls him by the pseudonym and asks him if he’d like to know the secret behind the title of Mr Kang’s last novel? So Seo-jun realises he’s busted and that’s the end of the episode!
It’s Dan-i’s first day back at Gyeoroo Publishing and she’s very excited and skipping in. In a cute and fun scene, Park Hoon and Ji-yul are wearing celebratory headbands and waiting outside the lift, ready to throw tinsel everywhere. Unfortunately for them it’s a very unimpressed Ms Go that walks out of the lift. Then they let off some sort of streamer bomb and it’s the CEO that wears the attack. And with no other back-up plan, Dan-i ends up coming out of the other lift and so the surprise is a letdown. But still funny.
Inside, everyone is thrilled to have Dan-i back and they’ve put presents on her desk – including Song-i. Hae-rin makes sure Song-i apologises about the contract issue. Even Ms Go whispers ‘good job” which I guess is high praise for her. And then, of course, Eun-ho goes over the top and makes love heart shapes at her from around the corner and blows kisses.
In the kitchen, Ji-yul is still stewing on not being able to work on The Heroes. She ends up asking Mr Bong about it – again, meant to be a secret, Ji-yul! Mr Bong wants to see the manuscript ASAP and he’s upset Hae-rin didn’t show it to him. The CEO and Ms Go overhear. They’re very surprised – the CEO especially. Copies are made and the CEO wants to be left alone to read it. He thinks back to when Eun-ho resigned on Mr Kang’s behalf and how Eun-ho had said he was Mr Kang’s son. Back then, the CEO was, naturally, shocked by this announcement since as far as he knew, Kang Byeong-jun was always alone. Eun-ho asked the CEO for help to look after Mr Kang and told the CEO he has the journals to prove Mr Kang’s wishes.
So back to the bar scene where we left off last episode. Eun-ho gave The Heroes manuscript to Seo-jun on the pretence of knowing Seo-jun is a big fan. Seo-jun asked where Mr Kang is. And that’s when Eun-ho reveals he knows Seo-jun submitted the manuscript. Now we get to the April 23 secret. He hands over the manuscript for that too. Eun-ho tells Seo-jun he always thought the title change was strange because that date isn’t mentioned anywhere in the manuscript. He then pulls out a journal entry that says ‘My son visited me’. Eun-ho admits he thinks Seo-jun is Mr Kang’s son and that April 23 is in reference to his birthday. But he’s never been able to confirm his suspicions because Mr Kang isn’t in a state to answer. Eun-ho then offers a bag with ‘answers’ for Seo-jun to take a look at.
So Seo-jun heads home and reads through the papers and realises that it’s not that his father didn’t choose to find him, it’s that he couldn’t remember. He flashes back to when he visited Mr Kang and revealed his identity. He had gone to ask for money to help his sick mother and promised not to ask for anything further. That night Mr Kang wrote in his journal that his son had visited him and decided to change the name of the book he was working on so he wouldn’t forget his son’s birthday. definitely teared up during this scene. How awful for Seo-jun to have felt abandoned all this time only to find out his father had been ill. Hae-rin ends up going past Seo-jun’s house. She texts him to say if he needs a friend she’s there for him.
The next morning, Eun-ho wakes to a call from Kapyong. He must call Seo-jun because he races by to pick him up and they speed off. Looks like Mr Kang taken a turn for the worse. The CEO is already there when Eun-ho and Seo-jun arrive. Unfortunately the doctor reveals that Mr Kang has passed away! So devastating! In a nice moment, Eun-ho takes Mr Kang’s hand, then takes Seo-jun’s and places the three hands together. And now I’m crying along with Eun-ho. Crushed!
Seo-jun later admits to Eun-ho that he wanted to prove that he was still Mr Kang’s son even if he wouldn’t acknowledge him, so that’s why he chose to finish writing The Heroes. It was his only way to reach out. Eun-ho tells him April 23 was a message from Mr Kang to say he remembered his son. Seo-jun then thanks Eun-ho for helping him uncover the truth and for caring for Mr Kang all this time.
There’s somewhat of a montage then, showing that April 23 has gone onto a new edition, following Mr Kang’s death. This edition includes a chronology of his life, written by Eun-ho. This is something that Mr Kang had once forbidden, but in a letter written “to his son” during a lucid moment before he died, Mr Kang decided it was foolish to be afraid and hide his condition. And so he instructs Eun-ho to write it after all. The book also includes a medical certificate with his diagnosis, notes from his journal and a photo of himself with Eun-ho. I was sobbing at this point. A quote from his letter that I liked was:
I don’t believe a single book can change the world, but I’m sure it can still leave something warm inside someone’s heart.
Speaking of heart-warming. There’s a series of shots now of the Gyeoroo employees. Ms Seo and Mr Bong eating a meal with their son. Ms Go asleep in her office and the CEO leaving her a note. On waking she goes to his office and suggests they skip work together and go to the beach. Aww. They are adorable! She looks so much softer around him! And finally, Ji-yul gets some positive feedback from Hae-rin for a manuscript she worked on. Cheers all round!
Later, Hae-rin heads to Seo-jun’s place. She’s made him lunch which puts a stunning smile on his face. I’ve missed his smile! And they flirt a bit over lunch which is really cute. He takes a photo of her to remember this moment. He finds out she sat outside all night and he thanks her for worrying about him. She points to his locked room and asks if that’s where he hid to write The Heroes. She tells him to come out and write another book under his real name because she likes his writing. He says he’ll think abut it.
Back at the office, Dan-i and Ji-yul are in a meeting with the rest of the team. They have worked on a book proposal together for a title called The Inner Thoughts of Plants. The CEO says it needs to wait and they’re sad. Everyone tells them to ‘just wait’ but Ms Seo says they probably won’t publish it. They’re crushed.
Later again, and Seo-jun and Hae-rin are meeting about a book cover and butting heads over a chocolate sundae just like old times. Then she tells him she’s going on a blind date and he’s shocked and tells her not to go. And omg, I loved this scene. She asks him why she shouldn’t go. And he tells her that his father said once that you should be a book to someone – a book that person can turn to. She asks what sort of book he would be to her. And he says a romance book! SWOON. I’m sorry but that might seem lame to so many viewers but I was eating that up like a dying person. And then he tells her to have dinner with him instead.
Meanwhile the other lovebirds – Dan-i and Eun-ho – are at home. It seems Dan-i feels like she should move out so she’s looking at real estate and Eun-ho offers to go to some inspections with her. So the next day they head over to view an apartment. Side note: Eun-ho wears the most hideous trench coat! (Sorry Eun-ho!) And he tells the agent that the apartment isn’t big enough for two people since he’s going to live with Dan-i for the rest of his life. Aww. And he tells Dan-i that if she moves she has to take him with her.
In a finale product placement special (our last one!) Hae-rin is in the office and has received a gift pack of Su:m37 skin care and a big show is made of everyone trying it on and saying how amazing it is. LOL
Dan-i and Ji-yul are still trying to get their book published. They try and ask Eun-ho but he is interrupted by a phone call. And it’s good news, the poetry book Mr Bong campaigned so hard for is now going into a fifth reprint! So the office celebrates by going out for barbecue. At the barbecue place, the CEO gives a toast and thanks everyone and then announces that they will be publishing Dan-i and Ji-yul’s Inner Thoughts of Plants book! He says even if it doesn’t sell well, it will be a treasure to those that do buy it. And I’m feeling very sentimental now. Everyone cheers. And then there’s one final announcement. Ms Go stands up and says that they’re putting in place a blind recruitment system where background, age and work experience will no longer be a factor when hiring staff! Happy ending – tick!
And it wouldn’t be a K-drama if the happy ending wrap up didn’t keep coming. So after the barbecue, the team go for a picturesque walk through the park and Dan-i and Eun-ho hold hands and run off together and everyone realises they’re dating and congratulates them. The CEO then holds Ms Go’s hand and runs after them! AW!! Mr Bong tries to hold Ms Seo’s but has no luck. LOL When Eun-ho and Dan-i are alone he tells her he wants the whole world to know he loves her and they share the first decent kiss of the show! (With only seconds until the episode ends!)
And finally, what about Ji-yul and Park Hoon, you ask?! Well, Ji-yul ends the episode meeting with a guy. Honestly it’s not totally clear to me whether this is a job interview or a date (lol) but either way, Park Hoon turns up and grabs her and says she’s his! And then she kisses him on the lips and they agree to start dating – much to her own bewilderment. Meanwhile, the CEO and Ms Go share a meal together. And Mr Bong and Ms Seo seem to be co-parenting and getting along. And we pan through the Gyeoroo office and the doors close and it’s such a stunning building!!
In terms of the K-dramas I’ve seen this definitely doesn’t rate highly for the ‘epic romance’ factor. It was very sweet. That said, I absolutely loved it. I guess I felt a deeper personal connection with it having loved books all my life, and because I, too, work in publishing. I really felt every win at Gyeoroo like it was my own and I enjoyed seeing the book production process played out on screen. There was a really beautiful romanticism about the way books and reading were described that I just loved. And after I finished watching the episode, I found out that the show was filmed at Paju Book City in Korea – a whole town dedicated to book publishing – which I think is such a nice touch. I felt like the people behind this show truly believed in the power of books and that made me very happy.
And finally, some messages I loved from the ending credits:
- Pride in creating, trust and happiness – those are what it means to make a book.
- A book that inspires others may not always inspire you, so find a book that does.
- And the final message: Dear viewers of our drama, the moon is beautiful.
I am so happy right now! What a glorious way to end the series!
What did you think of Romance is a Bonus Book? Drop me a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!