I’ll start with the ending. I honestly didn’t think I would like it, that I would be disappointed, that I would want a different ending, because of all the spoilers and recaps and whispers that I saw and heard. But surprisingly, I’m actually OK with it.
For one thing, I truly appreciate So Hyun Kyung‘s brilliance and willingness to choose the “less fairy tale” ending. In a perfect K-drama world, there would have been some loophole that would allow Shin Ji Hyun to live and end up with Han Kang. I appreciate that So Hyun Kyung didn’t choose that. That being said, I’m also THRILLED at the possibility that Yi Kyung MIGHT end up with Han Kang. I won’t say they will right away, but they have become good friends, and perhaps once they’re both over Ji Hyun and Yi Soo, they might be able to get together. I always thought the two had more chemistry than Ji Hyun and Han Kang (even though Yi Kyung and Yi Soo had better chemistry). The “two years later” tied a neat bow for everyone, giving every character a happy ending, which is a nice compensation for the two deaths. And may I mention that I love Ji Hyun’s tree is straight, and Yi Soo’s tree is crooked? It’s sweet – but fitting – to have them together in death as well. As for the last minute twist about Yi Kyung being Ji Hyun’s sister, I actually liked it. I think it was somewhat necessary – even though I already forgot that Mama Shin was crying about losing “another child.” Yi Kyung’s back story justifies why Mama Shin was so scared Ji Hyun would get kidnapped; if In Jung had known about Ji Min, she might have been a little more understanding and not so resentful. I think it was a necessary twist if the goal at the end was to provide everyone alive a happy ending, and a chance to start over. Everyone in the drama pretty much enters a new beginning, and without Yi Kyung/Ji Min’s return to the Shin household, only Mama and Papa Shin would have been left behind in the past. Since the drama mentions about the Buddhist concept of being reborn again, it’s nice to see that in everyone’s current life, they all get a chance to be reborn – and not have to wait for their time to be over. One thing I don’t understand though, is how Yi Kyung developed such a bitter perception of her mother, when all her mother said was to stay for a minute while she got her younger sister. It’s as if Yi Kyung/Ji Min got amnesia the moment she entered the orphanage. I do think the twist was clumsily executed and rushed though. I would have liked it if the search for her birth parents started maybe in episode 18 or 19, and then the final revelation occurred in episode 20. But So Hyun Kyung likes to squeeze everything in the end. She jam packs the last episode with all the multiple time jumps; I swear, the editing of when Scheduler finds out Yi Kyung’s actually Ji Hyun’s sister is off. The edit shows him being surprised at the news of them being actually relatives -> then shows him remembering that relatives don’t count for tears -> then shows him telling Ji Hyun that In Jung gave her the third tear. Based on how that’s edited, it feels like (for me) that Scheduler himself didn’t know that In Jung gave the third tear – even though he had told Ji Hyun this. It looked like the Scheduler was finding all this out at the same time the audience did, which is not really true. It would have been better if we went from him being surprised -> to him telling Yi Kyung about the tear. The additional scene of him telling Ji Hyun that relatives don’t count is more for the audience’s benefit, reminding us that Yi Kyung’s tear would not have been valid. But I think everyone already knows this; we don’t need the additional edit to remind us. That’s my one gripe with episode 20. The last two episodes were so full of crying that I got exhausted from watching it – everyone just cried!! My eyes welled up halfway during Ji Hyun’s funeral – mainly because of Hae Won’s crying – which is not bad. (If my tears well up all the way, then it means “good,” and if I let out a tear or more, it means “excellent.” If I don’t cry or feel any sadness at all, it’s “plain bad.”) I really missed the fun and laughter of the previous episodes, but I guess the melo had to come in at some point.
By far, Lee Yo Won, Bae Soo Bin, and Jung Il Woo were amazing. Lee Yo Won got the hang of “multiple personalities” by episode 4, and I enjoyed watching her play Ji Hyun than Nam Gyu Ri playing Ji Hyun. Nam Gyu Ri was kind of boring, but I think it’s because she couldn’t be as perky as the way Lee Yo Won was playing the role. Jung Il Woo was hands down perfect for his role. He sold it to me – I believed that he truly loved Lee Yo Won, despite being younger than her. And he went all out: from crazy funny, to absolutely arrogant, to incredibly touching, and then back to playful and arrogant. And Bae Soo Bin. I really REALLY wish he’d be the main lead who gets the girl next time, unless he’s purposely picking “second male lead/evil” roles. I knew he was good, but I think he really shined in episode 19 during the scene with his mother. I didn’t have any emotion towards the episode until his scene came up, and that’s when my heart went out to him. Bae – you’re awesome. As for Jo Hyun Jae, I think he was pretty typical. While he played a sweet character (and I do wish my guy will pay attention to me like Han Kang does to Ji Hyun), his character overall was pretty basic. He’s the knight in shining armor who helps unravel the mystery, and is the only one who’s smart enough to figure things out. Jo played him straight, so it was kinda boring. I wish Bae Geu Rin‘s character Seo Woo was featured a little more than just being the “friend who worked at Paris Baguette – and oh look! She gave a tear!” When she finally beat In Jung up for cheating with Min Ho, I was like, “FINALLY! SEO WOO IS DOING SOMETHING!” Seo Ji Hye had a meatier role, but during the course of it she became insanely annoying for constantly bugging Min Ho about the company, and trying to undermine Ji Hyun at every turn. Perhaps it’s because I could not empathize with her (which says something about the actress), and because I couldn’t understand her reasoning for taking revenge on the Shin household (which says something about the writing).
Overall Impression of Drama:
When I think about it now, I liked 49 Days, and it had plenty of twists and surprises, but I actually forgot a lot of what happened in the “middle” (around episodes 5-16). I know a lot happens, but scenes don’t jump out at me right now. I remember clearly the first episode when Ji Hyun dies and talks to the Scheduler, but I don’t remember the scene when Han Kang goes up to Yi Kyung and says, “You’re Ji Hyun, right?” I remember when Yi Kyung finally sees Ji Hyun, but I don’t remember what happened after Ji Hyun found the seal and hid it in the plants at Heaven. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, it was a good drama – a really good drama – but also forgettable; I think 20 episodes was a lot. There were moments when I honestly wanted to just fast forward through it. I had started out liking the drama, since so much happened in just TWO EPISODES, but I think my impressions by episodes 3-6 were more spot on. If the information was planted earlier, and the mysteries unfolded throughout the series almost parallel to each other, I think it would have been more interesting. That way, everything wouldn’t be crammed at the end, the series could have been shorter, and the story could have been better. There’s a reason why I like Prosecutor Princess over Shining Inheritance and this one. But! That’s So Hyun Kyung for you! So, in conclusion: 7.5-8/10