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And just like that “The Forbidden Marriage” has come to an end! This was a show that knew where it was going from the start and took just the right amount of time getting there. It was hilarious, sweet, poignant, and just plain fun—the perfect weekend watch. The actors had incredibly chemistry and clearly had fun making it, which always translates so well onto the screen. So here are some of the best moments from the final episodes that had my cheeks hurting from smiling.
Warning: spoilers for episodes 11-12 below.
At this point, Yi Heon (Kim Young Dae) and Lee Shin Won’s (Kim Woo Seok’s) investigations into the workings of the internal court have yielded more than enough evidence that Seo Woon Jung (Park Sun Young) has been doing everything in her power to influence the selection for Yi Heon’s Queen from bribing court ladies to kidnapping and selling any girl who could be a threat into slavery. And unbeknownst to Woon Jung, the Grand Queen Dowager (Cha Mi Kyung) knows the truth, and she’s not pleased.
So Rang (Park Ju Hyun) is still pretending to be Sung Hwa Yoon’s (Jo Soo Min‘s) maid, and as Hwa Yoon gains the Dowager’s approval, So Rang and Shin Won know that it’s only a matter of time before she’s targeted again. Shin Won successfully foils a kidnapping attempt by dressing as Hwa Yoon and looks gorgeous doing so.
But So Rang isn’t so lucky. While noticing during a tea pouring session that Hyeon Hee’s (Song Ji Woo’s) tea is steaming and Hwa Yoon’s isn’t, So Rang immediately warns the other girl that her tea has been poisoned. Yet, So Rang gets some of the poison on her hands (which causes hives) and is wrongly accused of being the poisoner by the Dowager and thrown in jail. Yet, when the Dowager comes by to talk to her, the conversation goes differently than expected. So Rang calls the Dowager out on knowing everything but putting So Rang in jail to see if Hyeon Hee has enough of a conscience to confess. So Rang volunteers to stay in jail so that Hyeon Hee can think she has won and to protect the Dowager’s principles as she figures out how to navigate this situation. Though So Rang doesn’t realize it, that’s all it takes to win the old lady over. And the Dowager immediately knows what to do next!
The selection’s picks are narrowed down to Hwa Yoon and Hyeon Hee, who’s still posing as Ye Hyeon Seon (So Rang’s real name). Hwa Yoon surprises everyone by dropping out of the selection, saying that she wants Ye Hyeon Seon to become the next Queen. Hyeon Hee preens, thinking that she’s won. The people’s rising frustration over the marriage ban hits a peak, and they protest outside the palace. Yi Heon uses this as the perfect chance to invite them in so the Dowager can read out who she’s selected and end the selection once and for all. And the name is, of course, Ye Hyeon Seon.
Hyeon Hee and Woon Jung are ecstatic. But So Rang’s father Ye Hyeon Ho (Uhm Hyo Sup), whom Woon Jung stopped poisoning just so he could witness this moment, looks troubled because it isn’t just Hyeon Hee walking to the Dowager to stand before all as the next Queen—it’s the real Ye Hyeon Seon herself.
The Dowager, who seems to have expected this and clearly knows So Rang’s identity, brings Hyeon Ho up to verify which one the real Hyeon Seon is. Hyeon Ho is bewildered because his wife gave him the wildest excuse for So Rang vanishing seven years ago. Between that and being drugged, it’s no wonder that the poor man looks like he has been clubbed in the head.
He heads up to the Dowager, and one look at So Rang’s face tells him that a huge injustice was done. Without hesitation, despite Hyeon Hee’s pleas, he identifies So Rang as the real Hyeon Seon. Woon Jung watches in horror as her plans collapse, and the entire family (minus So Rang) is carted away for questioning. Woon Jung shoots a pleading glance at the evil Jo Sung Gyun (Yang Dong Geun), her partner-in-crime and the guy she’s cheating on Hyeon Ho with, but he doesn’t care.
Everyone’s eyes are on So Rang and Yi Heon, who both look radiant. It’s pretty incredible seeing her take back her name and head to her rightful place at his side without any trepidation, worry, or self-doubt that she doesn’t belong there. But Yi Heon wouldn’t be Yi Heon if he didn’t formally ask her anyway! And we all know what her answer was always going to be!
They’re literally glowing. I can’t with how adorable these two are.
With everything sorted out and Yi Heon and So Rang’s happy ending confirmed, it was pretty surprising to see that we still had an entire 50 minutes of episode 12 left. But the show made sure to tie up all its loose ends—beginning with our villains. This is the only point where this show actually goes really dark. While Hyeon Ho is found not guilty of any wrongdoing on account of having been drugged by Woon Jung for years, his wife and daughter aren’t as lucky.
Woon Jung is sentenced to the noose, while Hyeon Hee, who sat back, watched, and laughed as hundreds of girls her age were kidnapped and sold into slavery by her mother, is sentenced to the same fate. The head of the kidnapping ring outs Jo Sung Gyun as his master in return for revenge for being ditched by Sung Gyun, and Yi Heon gets the satisfaction of killing him for the Crown Princess’s murder. But the head of the ring doesn’t get away with anything just because he gave Yi Heon information. Shin Won abandons him on the mountain where the kidnapper-murdering ex-bandits and No Min Woo reprises his cameo and gets revenge on the man who likely kidnapped and sold his sister. It’s all pretty dark stuff.
But this show has never been afraid to go in that direction when necessary. From Yi Heon’s shattering grief to the Crown Princess’s violent death, “The Forbidden Marriage” has known when to tread darker waters and when to stop because the marriage ban is now over and our couples are happier than ever! So here’s where they all end up.
Yi Heon remains as besotted with his wife as usual. Prior to the wedding, he and So Rang are about to head inside their tent for certain purposes when the Dowager shows up to insist that they must spend the 40 days prior to their marriage apart. But he makes sure to make up for it after the fact. The man adores So Rang, and it’s so clear that she does the same. The palace remarks on how she has lit up the nation as she has the king’s heart, and that much is evidently true. Her travels around Joseon for seven years have put her in an excellent position to understand its people. And Yi Heon’s adoration of his wife, combined with his knowledge that she wouldn’t manipulate him the way Woon Jung did, means he listens to every word she says and is soon implementing maternity leave, paternity leave, and a whole host of amazing reforms.
Yi Heon for president tbh
So Rang actually goes and visits the former Crown Princess’s grave with the Princess’s father and says that it’ll be moved to give the other woman the honor she deserved, and that it was stripped from her when she was framed as having died by suicide. It’s such a lovely moment that shows the sort of person So Rang is. She isn’t jealous of Yi Heon’s dead wife because she knows where his heart lies. And he’s shown that he has fully moved on.
Shin Won remains happy for the couple, while mourning the loss of his own love. Yet So Rang and Yi Heon know him better than he thinks, and when Shin Won’s father and Hwa Yoon’s father both show up asking So Rang to do something about their kids not being married, our main couple gets to work immediately. Coop wires are cut, chickens are released, and So Rang and Yi Heon watch as Shin Won and Hwa Yoon literally fall into each other. Or onto each other rather.
There’s a lovely spark between them, both gentle souls with nerves of steel. And it seems like there’s the start of a great story right there.
Everyone’s getting married left right and center, and Gwaeng Yi (Choi Duk Moon) bemoans his single status, wondering if he would have be reborn to find love as a gay man in Joseon. But love is always closer than one thinks, and it isn’t long before our favourite matchmaker in Hanyang runs into the palace’s favorite matchmaker. And sparks and flower petals immediately fly in the best of ways.
Everyone gets together for one final portrait, delivering all the fluff we didn’t know we needed. Won Nyeo (Hwang Jung Min), the former head palace lady, and Se Jang (Lee Hyun Geol), the eunuch, have adopted children and are adorably happy. Jung Do Seok (Hong Si Yong) and Hae Young (Jung Bo Min), who are married now, are just as cute. Kim Sul Rok (Kim Min Sang) and Gwaeng Yi are the best dads/fun uncles anyone could ask for, while Shin Won and Hwa Yoon are so adorably flustered around each other that So Rang and Yi Heon know that it’s only a matter of time before they get together.
Finally, our king and queen stroll through a happy bustling market on a busy winter day. And for the sheer joy of it, they kiss under the sunlight, secure in each other and in the joy of the years to come.
This was such a lovely show from start to finish. It didn’t set out to be groundbreaking or revolutionary as sageuk fare but did excellent with everything it had: from dialogue to cinematography to character arcs. The villains were thinly written, but the strength of this show lies completely in the main trio’s capable hands, and, oh boy, did they deliver. So Rang was, without a doubt, the heart of this show. Park Ju Hyun has the incredibly ability to radiate emotion in her eyes, and she nailed So Rang’s strength, her wit, and her sheer sense of fun in every motion. Kim Woo Seok went a complete 180 from his previous psycho-redemption arc in “Military Prosecutor Doberman” and played the loyal, gentle, stoic bodyguard to perfection. Shin Won’s rivalry and friendship with Yi Heon was just excellently done, and the fact that their friendship remained strong at the end was the best part.
As for Yi Heon himself, whew. This is easily Kim Young Dae’s finest performance. While he was lovely in “Sh**ting Stars,” that was largely the female lead’s story. Here, he’s front and center and showed just how incredibly capable an actor he is. Yi Heon, in lesser hands, could have come off quite poorly, but he imbued the king with a majesty, a cruelty, and a deep-seated bitterness that made his subsequent slow transformation around So Rang all the better.
He made Yi Heon’s pain, yearning, and love for So Rang so tangible that it was hard not to feel and root for him. And his comedic timing was always on point. It was a truly fantastic performance in a very promising actor. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and so we leave “The Forbidden Marriage” on a high note and a great point: that loving deeply and happily whenever possible makes every day that much brighter!
I’m going to miss them so much!
Check out the drama below:
What did you think of the final episodes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she works as a lawyer, fangirls over Ji Sung, and attempts to write the greatest fantasy romance of all time. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “Summer Strike,” “The Forbidden Marriage.”Looking Forward to: “Island,” “The Interest of Love,” “Queen of the Scene,” “Black Knight,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.
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