I usually have a hard time getting emotional toward K-Dramas. I'm often one or two steps ahead of the writer, so when the twist that's supposed to blow my mind finally rolls around, I've already gotten over it. Then again, there are some very special dramas that manage to keep even me on my toes. It's those dramas that get a reaction out of me, and it's those dramas that I'll be talking about today.
Goblin - Mother (episode 1)
Young Eun Tak returns home from school on her birthday to find her mother kneeling before a cake. Eun Tak sits across from her mother, excited to light the candles and tell her mother about the test she'd aced. After a moment, though, she realizes that she's not sitting across from her mother, but instead her mother's ghost. The two cry as they say their final goodbyes. Eun Tak loses faith in there being any sort of higher power and is forced to grow up without the love of her mother.
This scene was in the first episode, and it had me bawling. The combination of the beautiful soundtrack, the talented child actress, and the heartbreaking nature of the scene really got to me. For a death scene, it was peaceful. The warm colours and calm interactions between mother and daughter made for an emotional yet relaxing scene. A friend of mine who watched Goblin after I'd recommended to her cried in the same scene I did, further exemplifying how powerful it is. It was definitely a nice change of pace after having seen lots of other dramas with death scenes that took place after bombastic battles. Having such an emotional death so early caught me off guard, for sure.
Circle - The Accident (episode 11)
Woo Jin is on the run from Park Dong Geon and his goons, all of whom want the memory-viewing star that Byul gave him when he was a child. He slips away from them one last time before he bursts out onto a road, only for Lee Hyun Seok to strike him with his car. Woo Jin flies into the air, hits the ground with a sickening thud, and skids to a stop. He struggles to grab the now broken star as he feebly whispers the names of those he loves. He appears to die, face-down on the pavement in a pool of his own blood, only to wake up moments later in what looks like a hospital room.
Woo Jin cried. Jung Yeon cried. I cried. Since I thought the show had the potential for an article, I had been taking notes at the end of each episode. Leading up to this event, I had written things in my notes like, “Please don't kill Woo Jin. I'll cry.”
And then they killed him, and I cried. I always keep my word.
I cried a lot. Then, when he awoke in a hospital bed with no obvious injuries, I let out a massive sigh of relief, not yet knowing that Woo Jin didn't get out of the accident unscathed like he appeared to. I started crying again when Woo Jin found his brother and Jung Yeon in the stairwell and it became apparent that Woo Jin had managed to travel to 2037 without ageing a day. The whole sequence, from beginning to end, was really well-done, and I loved it. I won't forget it.
Time Between Dog and Wolf - The Final Encounter (episode 16)
Mao and Soo Hyun have an intense shootout near the end of the final episode. Mao lands multiple shots on Soo Hyun before noticing his watch and recognizing it as one that he had given to Soo Hyun's dad. Soo Hyun takes that opportunity to shoot Mao in the abdomen. Then, injured and dying, Mao reveals that he was friends with Soo Hyun's dad. Mao reminisces about finally having a son to call his own (since Soo Hyun had taken the name Kay while he had amnesia and Mao had made him his son), before using Soo Hyun's own fingers to shoot himself. Just when Soo Hyun realizes that Mao was telling the truth, Min Gi arrives, shooting his brother in the back, thinking he was just another goon. Mao and Soo Hyun fall so that they are holding hands.
This scene really got me crying. Both actors did a great job of expressing their intense emotional and physical pain, especially Lee Joon Gi, whose shocked expression when Mao used Soo Hyun's fingers to kill himself left me as startled as him. Lee Joon Gi's sometimes overdone facial expressions worked out really well in this instance, and I really liked it. Then, the jaw-drop-worthy surprise of Min Gi shooting and almost killing his own brother at the last moment was a shock I wasn't ready for. That was the moment that pushed me from misty-eyed to real crying.
I Remember You - Let's Run Away (episode 16)
While Hyun is making dinner, Min sneaks over to Lee Joon Young's house to confront him. Min suggests that he and Joon Young run away together in order to bait him into being open to attack. When Min thinks he's open, he grabs a kitchen knife and launches himself at Joon Young. An intense fight ensues. Both are murderers, and Min has shown that he can handle himself, but Joon Young is faster, stronger, and more experienced, and easily beats him. Min ends up on his knees, the knife now in Lee Joon Young's hands. Joon Young kneels to meet eyes with the beaten and bleeding Min, then stabs him, seemingly killing him.
Just as things were starting to wind down at the end of the series, this happens. Joon Young had fended off an attack from another child he had “saved” earlier in the episode. This in mind, when Min grabbed the knife, I knew he would fail. Still, I hoped that maybe he would win or escape, and that hope made his failure that much more emotional. Park Bo Gum's facial expressions during this scene were spot on and made my heart hurt for Min. Watching the light leave the eyes of a character I had come to care for was absolutely heartbreaking, and I don't think it could have been done any better.
Well, maybe if Joon Young wasn't wearing slippers, it would have been a little more serious.
Circle - The Reunion (episode 11)
At first, Bum Gyoon refuses to acknowledge that the clone standing in front of him is really his brother. Woo Jin, feeling rejected, decides to go back to Human B, since his own brother won't accept him. Then, outside their church hideout, Woo Jin admits that he's scared, just like he did before he saw his brother for the last time 20 years prior. Bum Gyoon realizes that even though the man standing in front of him is a clone, the clone is still his brother. Bum Gyoon, in this moment, admits that memories make the person. The brothers embrace, finally reuniting after 20 years.
I am fully aware that this is the second instance of Circle episode 11 appearing on this list, but this was such an emotional episode, I couldn't help but include two entries from it. This is honestly one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in all of the K-Dramas. Up to this point, Woo Jin behaved as the older brother, taking care of the deranged Bum Gyoon and handling all the dangerous stuff. Now, all of a sudden, Woo Jin admits that he's scared, revealing a softness he'd never shown before. He shows that he really is the younger brother and he can't handle everything by himself. I swear I cried as much as they did.
To The Beautiful You - Wait For Me (episode 16)
Kang Tae Joon, energized by his love for Gu Jae Hee, manages to do his high jump perfectly, winning a gold medal. Jae Hee watches the competition live on the bus using a stranger's phone and begins to cry. Then, Tae Joon speaks directly to the camera and tells Jae Hee to wait for him.
This is... embarrassing. For the record, I was twelve years old when I watched this drama. Twelve. I feel like that excuses me crying like a literal baby at this scene. TTBY was my first K-Drama, and it really got to me. Was this scene well-acted? Not really. Does it make much sense? No. Is it any good? Not particularly, but I sobbed, and I'll never forget it. I don't know why I cried so much.
Maybe I was hungry.
These are just a few of the times I shed tears at K-Dramas. Do you have any in common with me? If not, what were some K-Drama scenes that really got to you? Do you have any embarrassing K-Drama moments from your younger years like me? Comment below! Thanks for reading! See you soon!
(All images are screencap by me.)