And just like that, “If You Wish Upon Me” is at an end!
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It won’t be easy bidding farewell to the hospice and all of its colorful characters, but the final episodes provide a send-off so achingly sweet that we couldn’t leave everyone on a more picture-perfect note. Without further ado, here are the life lessons we loved the most!
Warning: spoilers for episodes 15-16 below.
1. You reap what you sow
Yoon Ki Chun (Nam Kyung Joo), Kang Tae Shik (Sung Dong Il), and Yoon Gyeo Re (Ji Chang Wook) discover this in the best and worst of ways. Last week’s episodes ended on a cliffhanger with everyone at the hospital and Gyeo Re at the risk of being beaten to death. But that situation is halted when Yoon Ki Chun roars at the gang leader that this is his son and to not lay a hand on him. And Gyeo Re puts on a show before Tae Shik and Seo Yeon Joo (Sooyoung), acting like he’s done with the hospice and going to leave with his rich criminal father instead. Neither of them buy the act and know that Gyeo Re’s about to do something risky, but he won’t listen.
Sure enough, they’re right because Gyeo Re leads his father and the now ex-gang boss (it seems that Ki Chun’s the real leader, and the other guy was just acting president) straight to a tormented Seok Joon (Nam Tae Hoon), who has been gearing himself up to enact his murder-suicide for the past four episodes. He spots Gyeo Re and tears up before slamming on the accelerator. Gyeo Re hugs his father, trying to ensure that Seok Joon hits and kills both of them, but a familiar ambulance intervenes last minute and takes the hit. A horrified Gyeo Re finds Tae Shik at the wheel, unwilling to see Gyeo Re voluntarily let himself die.
In the ensuing ruckus while Ki Chun is celebrating his near-escape, the ex-gang boss reclaims his position by stabbing him. Everyone ignores Ki Chun as he bleeds out, panicking over Tae Shik instead, and karma comes full circle. All the good Gyeo Re did returns to him as the people who love him fight for him. And all the evil Ki Chun spread not only results in his death but leaves him alone at the worst moments of his life (twice now). What goes around, comes around.
2. It’s never too late to heal
The crash that Tae Shik intervenes with damages both the ambulance and Seok Joon (having been in the smaller vehicle). Ha Jun Kyung (Won Ji An) arrives on the scene distraught, sobbing that she never asked Seok Joon to die. All three men, Ki Chun, Tae Shik, and Seok Joon, are taken to the hospital, but only two make it out. Ki Chun dies of his injuries, and Gyeo Re is left to reason with the pieces that he left behind.
It’s almost hilarious how all of Team Genie attends his funeral, only to shoot disgusted glances at Ki Chun and say that they’re only here for Gyeo Re. But Gyeo Re isn’t the only one trying to heal. Jun Kyung arrives at the funeral and seems to finally have made peace with herself and living. She thanks Gyeo Re for saving her by staying by her side and says that she can survive on her own now.
He looks so relieved and happy for her. When she asks what he would prefer their level of contact to be, he smiles and asks her to be his little sister. And finally, all is well between these two. She orders him not to let go of Yeon Joo, and for the first time in years they’re able to joke around without the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Jun Kyung returns to vlogging but as a boxing influencer with a special focus on how to beat up awful men. It’s pretty awesome that she’s taken Yeon Joo’s lesson to heart and is going to use her pain to help and, hopefully, protect others.
3. Never underestimate the will to live
At first it appears that the gang boss who killed Ki Chun is about to get away with the murder as well as his coercion of young women into being cam girls. But the women Seok Joon rescued have different plans. Jun Kyung speaks to one of them who secretly recorded videos of her abuse by the gang boss. Jun Kyung wonders how the woman had the courage to even attempt something like that, knowing the consequences. She quietly slumps when the woman tells her that it was because she wanted to live. Perhaps Jun Kyung could have gotten out of there faster had she wanted to live and truly fought for it (she is a force to be reckoned with after all). Or perhaps not, life is a funny thing after all. But there is no doubt that the will to live makes a difference.
4. Sometimes, healing is taking responsibility
Seok Joon is arrested and taken to jail for attempted murder. Jun Kyung vows to be by his side when he comes out. He tries to push her away at first, but she isn’t having it and promises to make a ton of money so that she can afford a lawyer for him. The fact that the gang boss ends up arrested thanks to the other women’s proof of his abuse should undoubtedly help exonerate him. Seok Joon is a great example of someone who took responsibility for his decisions and never made excuses for who he was.
On the other hand, Ki Chun remained oblivious to the end and tried to justify himself up until the moment of his death. He truly sees himself as a victim, someone to be pitied, whining about how Gyeo Re left him and how he was lonely when he never even went looking for his son. Gyeo Re didn’t like the world and how it treated him either, but he didn’t take that out on other people. Ki Chun not only did that, but he took great pleasure in hurting others because he could. For someone who clawed his way into a top seat in the criminal food chain, he didn’t do any good whatsoever. And that’s why nothing could ever have helped him. In his head, none of it is his fault, and he was only reacting to the world around him. He doesn’t understand that we shape the world around us as much as it shapes us. And now, he never will.
5. Sometimes, endings bring new beginnings
We’ve known that this was going to happen for a while. Tae Shik has been getting progressively worse and that ambulance accident did him no favors. It isn’t long before he’s completely wheelchair-ridden. Gyeo Re and Yeon Joo barely leave his side to the point where he has to force them to go on a date. And just like that, Tae Shik becomes Team Genie’s next patient. He moves into Room 403, a space that he and now Ki Chun have inhabited, and tells the team—minus Gyeo Re—his final wish.
Gyeo Re is furious upon hearing that Tae Shik wants to host an early funeral. He’s completely in denial that Tae Shik is dying. Still, he bathes him in preparation. Everyone shows up to the funeral, more a celebration of life, really, including Gyeo Re’s old friend Jin Gu (Park Se Jun), Chi Hoon, and Jun Kyung. Yeom Soo Ja (Yang Hee Kyung) makes everyone food, and they head to the sea. It’s the same place that Gyeo Re once tried to end his life with Sonny and was stopped by Tae Shik, and he thinks back to how broken and lost he was then.
Yeon Joo make Gyeo Re promise to smile, and he prepares for a flurry of goodbyes, only it turns out that this isn’t Tae Shik’s early funeral but Gyeo Re’s birthday party! Tae Shik’s real last wish was for Gyeo Re to be able to celebrate his new life, and this is it! Tae Shik gifts Gyeo Re his watch, saying that his time stops here and the rest is Gyeo Re’s now. He calls Gyeo Re his son. They both tear up. And just like that, Gyeo Re’s stopped time runs once more.
A year later, Tae Shik is gone, and Gyeo Re has fully taken over his life. Tae Shik’s fortune has been used to establish the hospice’s own village for dementia patients called Angel Village. Naturally, Gyeo Re heads the operation. He and Yeon Joo prepare to get a new volunteer and their jaws drop when she rolls up because it’s Gyeo Re all over again.
Yeon Joo pats Gyeo Re’s shoulder, and he sighs knowing that his work is cut out for him.
This was a pretty great ending to a drama that never diverted from its main message of healing and rising above what the world throws at you. There were other musings at the end that were pretty awesome, like the fact that things (like a long-running magazine coming to an end) also have a lifespan and deserve a wish. But all in all, this was a sweet, healing show, well worth coming home to mid-week, and it’s all the better knowing that we’re leaving Team Genie in a happy place!