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Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending (Episodes 19 & 20) Recap – Eternity

We discuss the conclusion of Scarlet Heart Ryeo, the time travel romance Korean Drama series.

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending Recap – Eternity

scarlet heart ryeo promo image

We made it! Fate and time travel have never been benevolent or trustworthy things in Goryeo. A reckoning comes as the Scarlet Heart Ryeo ending reminds us that though life is brief, love never dies.


hae soo and 4th prince in scarlet heart ryeo poster


Hae-Soo is still heartbroken over Chae-Ryung’s passing. She blames the 9th Prince for using her friend and warns him he’ll pay for it one day.

The poverty and mistreatment of the people from Baekje, her former nation, troubles the 13th Prince’s lover, Woo-Hee. The King (4th Prince) is forced to make the 13th Prince prove his loyalty to the throne by leading soldiers to Baekje.

The 13th Prince remains optimistic despite his lack of military training and promises Woo-hee to marry her when he returns.

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending - woo-hee dying
13th Prince cradles his lover, Woo-Hee

But before he leaves, Woo-hee dies by jumping off a castle wall in front of him. This devastates him and Hae-soo. The 13th Prince grows distant from the King.

Elsewhere, the 8th Prince gives the King a hawk as a gift. But when the cover lifts, he’s shocked to see the caged bird is lifeless. The King smiles. He has framed him. He orders the 8th Prince’s execution for giving him a symbol of treason.

4th Prince and hae soo

Hae-Soo begs the King for the 8th Prince’s life. He reluctantly agrees to exile him to his house. Yeon-Hwa, who decided not to help her brother in hopes of having the 4th Prince’s heir, blames Hae-Soo for turning the 8th Prince into what he is. She swears that he changed after Hae-Soo warned him not to trust the 4th Prince.

Meanwhile, the 14th Prince gives the King a document from the previous (evil 3rd Prince) King, who promised marriage for Hae-Soo and the 14th Prince. The King is irate.

Later on, Hae-soo tells the King that she wants it – simply because she can’t stand the constant fatalities in the palace anymore.

Yeon-Hwa gets the 8th Prince to tell the King about his and Hae-Soo’s former relationship, hoping that the King will get rid of her.

Enraged, the King accuses Hae-Soo of deceiving him and tells her to leave the palace with the 14th Prince. The 13th and 8th princes are the only ones to see her off.


In the 14th Prince’s house, Hae-Soo lives quietly. A doctor tells her she’s growing weaker because she’s pregnant.

Meanwhile, the King spies on the couple and mistakes their laughter for marital joy. He orders the palace to keep out any news of the couple.

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending - 14th prince and hae soo as she dies
14th Prince smiles through his tears as Hae-Soo dies in his arms.

After Hae-Soo’s daughter is born, her health worsens. She writes several letters to the King, but he thinks the letters are from the 14th Prince and tosses them aside. Hae-Soo is saddened, thinking that the King no longer loves her.

Hae-Soo pleads with the 14th Prince to protect her daughter and keep her away from palace life. She peacefully dies in the 14th Prince’s arms while sitting in the garden.

The King learns of her passing and realizes the letters were from her. He’s beside himself and shows up at the 14th Prince’s house, crying her name. The King takes her ashes away from the 14th Prince. The 13th Prince realizes that the 14th Prince was in love with Hae-Soo and weeps as he hugs him.

The Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending

The Scarlet Heart Ryeo ending finally comes. First up, the 9th Prince is executed. Meanwhile, the King remains distant from the queen, Yeon-Hwa, and their son.

A few years later, the King sees the 14th Prince with his daughter. He demands to know who she is and then sees Hae-Soo’s hairpin in the girl’s hair.

The 14th Prince begs the King not to take her to the palace as this was Hae-Soo’s last wish. The King surprises the 14th Prince by instead asking him to visit the palace often with the girl.

More years roll by. The 8th Prince passes away. And ultimately, the astrologer Ji-Mong is the last to leave the King. He tells him that he believes Hae-Soo was from a different world.

Hae-Soo wakes up in the present time in her house. She wonders at her dream and the tears on her face. We learn that she was in a coma for a year after almost drowning.

hae-soo cries in scarlet heart ryeo

While selling make-up, Hae-Soo has intense memories of her “dream.” Later on, she visits a museum and sees a bunch of paintings – all from her dream. Weeping, she realizes it was all real. She cries over a portrait of the 4th Prince.

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending
I’ll find you…

In the past, the 4th Prince, now entirely without friends in the palace, stares at an eclipse in the sky. He thinks to himself: “If we’re not from the same world, I’ll find you. My Soo.”

The last scene is a flashback to when Hae-Soo and 4th Prince were together in the palace. They happily stroll about in nature together, and 4th Prince gives a tired Hae-Soo a piggyback ride home.

Thoughts and Feels:

 Hae-Soo and 4th Prince

Man, that was heartbreaking.

I have to admit that I knew it was coming, but honestly, I had hoped that with a new version, we would’ve had a different, ahem happier, ending. Understandably, the heart of the novel and original C-drama is a tragedy, the separation of a couple that loved each other dearly but couldn’t be together.

But why was the ending so rushed? They pre-produced the show, and they had plenty of time to edit. And by rushed, I don’t mean they tried to cover so many topics… Instead, they covered them so briefly and even confusingly to the point where I had no idea why anything was happening.

Many of the show’s big climactic points seemed like the writer hastily crossed off a checklist of plot points from the novel. There were no smooth transitions, instead just jumping from here to there, with confusing flashbacks and a lack of fluidity.

Again, this has been a problem that Scarlet Heart Ryeo has struggled with since the beginning. I don’t know whether to blame the directing or the editing, though I feel both are at fault for the constant time jumps, flashbacks, lack of fluidity, and an insane amount of close-up shots. I’m still laughing that the director had no idea how to use zoom on a camera.

Perhaps the episode’s confusion is best summed up with my bewilderment over the 13th Prince and his lover, Woo-Hee. Why the director didn’t think to show a buildup of Woo-Hee’s suicidal thoughts is beyond me!

Literally, in one scene, she’s happy with Baek-Ah and talking about marriage; in the next scene, she’s hurting herself because her people are suffering. The logic is missing, though.

Why does she want to die? How will that help her people? If she’s ashamed of loving a Goryeo prince (since her people suffer from the Goryeo people), then why doesn’t she just leave him?

And why did she tell him that she didn’t want him to see her die like this – if she was going to jump off the castle wall where he was watching?!! If she seriously didn’t want him to see her die, she could’ve waited for him to leave for Baekje! There are so many unanswered questions in these last few episodes. And that’s just about the side characters.

4th prince

Thinking about the fallout between Hae-Soo and the 4th Prince, I admit that I initially understood why Hae-Soo wanted to leave the 4th Prince. Not because he was evil for executing Chae-Ryung (though Hae-Soo also seemed to imply that, sigh), but because there would be no peace in the palace – and she couldn’t stand to see people die and suffer all the time.

Not to mention, she now had to contend with another woman for 4th Prince, and her health was deteriorating.

Sadly, Hae-Soo didn’t verbally stress those things as much as the audience probably needed to hear. So it felt like she left him because he slayed Chae-Ryung, who was technically a criminal.

Heck, she could’ve been angry that he hadn’t told her about it before slaying Chae-Ryung, yet she never mentions it.

On top of that, Hae-Soo didn’t seem consistent on even Chae-Ryung’s passing. After all, she blamed the 9th Prince for it but teased and smiled at the 8th Prince at their final parting, forgetting that he also caused her and the Crown Prince’s passing

Then there was the 4th Prince’s rage over Hae-Soo and the 8th Prince’s former romance. I wish they would’ve clarified more of his feelings on the matter because I was so confused!

Was he angry because she never told him? Or because the 8th Prince was his archenemy? Did he genuinely think she still loved 8th Prince? A scene with him really explaining why he was so angry that he threw her out of the palace would’ve helped.

Furthermore, Hae-Soo’s daughter could’ve been a big part of the story, but instead was tacked almost as an afterthought. It was distracting knowing that her daughter would grow up motherless (and probably never knowing 4th Prince was her real dad).

It also confused me about the ending since Hae-Soo wept over the paintings (which hilariously were of scenes that no one would’ve known about, much less painted) yet never mentioned her daughter.

I mean, yes, it was only a minute-long scene, and she was most likely thinking of her daughter but still! This is also a confusing twist from the original story where Hae-Soo has a miscarriage in the palace, which leads to further (and a more believable) emotional separation between Hae-Soo and the 4th Prince.

Also, the original story doesn’t leave a poor child out in limbo land with no parents. At least the 14th Prince clearly loved her as a father, so I’m not too angry. But I was a little annoyed to see that the 4th Prince refused to see his son that he had with Yeon-Hwa!

I know that he has no love for Yeon-Hwa, but he’s still his son! Did he forget what it felt like to be abandoned his whole life by his mother? I think the writers were afraid of showing that the 4th Prince had moved on from Hae-Soo, but I think they could’ve found a way to balance it.

Seriously, there are so many things that the ending could’ve done better. I thought the catalyst of Chae-Ryung’s passing should’ve been darker. Instead of making Chae-Ryung some girl who loved the 9th Prince and did whatever he bid without regrets (or so her letter says), she could’ve been forced to help him.

I wouldn’t have considered the 4th Prince super evil or without the right to execute her, and this would’ve given Hae-Soo a more substantial reason to be upset.

scarlet heart ryeo image

Looking at the story as a whole, Scarlet Heart Ryeo was an unabashed romance with a hero that was difficult not to root for. As the tortured, angsty, and romantic 4th Prince, Lee Joon-Ki was fabulous.

I honestly think his character would’ve been unlikeable without Lee Joon-Ki’s natural acting and ability to make the 4th Prince’s pathos seem bigger than his wolf-like violence and sometimes controlling attitude.

Hae-Soo was sometimes a contradiction to me; I loved her for her compassion, strength, and selflessness. Other times, I was wearied by her depressing stares, inability to take action, and forgiveness of one person’s evil only to detest someone else who had done the same thing.

I enjoyed actress IU playing the heroine Hae-Soo, though, yes, she doesn’t have the acting ability that Lee Joon-Ki has. Still, she has a sweet little innocence that was fun to see onscreen.

Though the Scarlet Heart Ryeo ending left us with no happy ending, I took the 4th Prince’s last words to heart. In my headcanon, Hae-Soo and 4th Prince are like Prince Charming and Snow White in Once Upon A Time. Time, fate, and circumstances can only separate them briefly.

Like Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, 4th Prince holds on to an impossible hope – that he’ll find Hae-Soo somewhere in the future.

Perhaps he did. Maybe as the last scene ended, he raced into the museum where Hae-Soo was and embraced her. He had only happened to walk by, but it hit him as soon as he saw her. It wasn’t a dream. All of it had been real!

They could then have a daughter and son (reincarnations of their kids back from Goryeo) and live happily with Hae-Soo working as a makeup artist and the 4th Prince working at a nature preserve where he takes care of wolves.

Yep. That’s how it ends in my book, folks! I’m thankful I enjoyed this wild, dramatic, and sweeping story of time travel and romance in ancient Goryeo! May the next show we watch be just as sweeping and romantic – minus all the tragedy and confusion!

UPDATE: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is currently not available to stream. You can buy it on DVD.

What did you think about the Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending? Are you heartbroken over the finale as well? Sound off below on the Moon Lovers ending…

Photos: Dramafever and SBS

Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending Recap pin


By on November 3rd, 2016

About Faith White

Faith has always enjoyed movies and TV shows from swoon-worthy period dramas to heart-stopping action-adventure flicks. Her love of Korean dramas started a few years ago when she binge-watched a 62 episode period K-drama and fell in love. She also has a passion for writing stories. Even as a young teenager she entertained her sisters
with episodic superhero adventures. Now she spends her time working,
blogging, sewing, juggling several novels, and watching her favorite
shows, mainly K-dramas. You can visit her blog at:

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20 thoughts on “Scarlet Heart Ryeo Ending (Episodes 19 & 20) Recap – Eternity”

  1. I agree with so many things. I just got the courage up to finish this show last night, and I think I cried for pretty much the entire two hours. I actually really enjoyed a lot of the direction, so it’s interesting to hear an opposing opinion on that. I agree that LJK’s acting was just exquisite; he’s a real talent. I really loved IU as Hae Soo as well; I’m still VERY new to KDrama so I was impressed when I heard she’s mainly a singer. I thought she did a great job.

    I COMPLETELY agree with the weirdness behind Woo Hee’s suicide. Like, that came completely out of left field! I think the writers were just like, hey Baek Ah has had it WAY too easy this entire show, we have to make him miserable before we end everything.

    I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a second season (or at least an extra episode or two to give us some closure) but I know that probably won’t happen. Even if it does, it’s likely they won’t end it as we all dream they will haha.

    There was so much rushed in the last two episodes that really frustrated me as well. Specifically all the motivation behind So and Soo’s conflict. It just seemed so petty, and I thought they had moved beyond all of that. They weren’t communicating at all, and weren’t the first 17 episodes about them learning to communicate lol? I just felt like they were back at square one by the end of episode 18. And the whole Chae Ryung conflict was obnoxious. SHE WAS SPYING ON YOU. HE PROTECTED YOU. Sure he maybe could have gone about it better, but cut the guy some slack.

    Obviously I have a lot of feels about this show haha.

    I just discovered your blog and I LOVE IT and I feel like we have a lot of similar interests 🙂 feel free to stop by my blog if you’re interested! I’ve started reviewing K-dramas recently, and of course, I review books and movies and such. Thanks for your thoughtful post on Scarlet Heart! I’ve been looking for a good discussion to vent on 🙂

    Jessica @ http://www.ramblingsonreadings.com/

    • Yay! Another SHR fan! Oh man, I kept trying to convince myself this ending was going to be different (i.e. happier, hehe) so I had to literally muster up the courage to finish the drama as well!

      Yes, LJK is brilliant!! He’s seriously wonderful in everything he does. IU is primarly an idol who turned to acting. I first saw her in Dream High and loved her in that show.

      Yes! I was totally confused and blindsided by Woo Hee’s suicide! It really does feel like they had to make sure every couple ended in tragedy. I suppose the reason they added it in was because in the original version, 8th Prince had another wife who committed suicide. Thus they tried to keep that plot point but with totally different characters and it just came off confusing, lol.

      I would really love a second season (i.e. my head-cannon where they reunite in the present). Sadly, I’m thinking it won’t as K-dramas very rarely have second seasons and also the ratings for the show weren’t very good until the end. 🙁

      Lack of communication drives me batty. I totally felt like we were at square one again with the OTP. Sadly, Hae-Soo’s character was set up so that it seemed that no matter how evil her friends became, she would never see the need for them to be punished/face consequences for their actions.

      Yes to feels!!! Oh my word, I’ve made my sister mad so many times by all my constant fangirling and ranting over this drama!

      Thank you!! Yay to similar interests! I’m already heading over to your blog to check it out! I love reading reviews of K-dramas so I’m definitely going to be reading yours!! Also welcome to the K-drama community! I’ve been watching them for probably five or six years now, but I still feel like such a newby hahah. Thank you for reading and commenting! I love to hear everyone’s thoughts on the show!! 😀

  2. Faith, ok so I watched this finally (thanks to your recaps always reminding me to start…honestly whatever you start to recap is what i’ll end up watching….tho I think goblin is next for me?!?!) and I am SUPER HEARTBROKEN. What am I supposed to do with my life right now? Even though objectively I understand the tragedy of their parting due to things deteriorating around them from the throne life/people being evil, I am sad that they didn’t meet before her end….like why would they do that to them? To us? and then WHY do a whole “i’ll find you” thing and then WE DON’T SEE HIM FIND HER. Lee Joon Ki was honestly everything. He was the best angsty romantic lead I’ve seen!!!! AHhhhh!!!! Thanks for writing them, they helped me get through episodes when I was too afraid to go on! ;( SOB

    • Just re-reading the recaps was making me emotional, haha! Oh this show. I feel you on being super heartbroken! You should’ve heard my ranting to my sister, lol. YES – why the “I’ll find you” and then they don’t even show it to us??? What’s crazier is Lee Joon Ki told everyone that they actually filmed a scene where Hae Soo and 4th Prince met. BUT WE DIDN’T GET TO SEE IT!!!!! How could they do that to us?? Lee Joon-Ki is most definitely everything!! He’s gold. I mean, I WAS falling in love with him lol! So glad you liked the recaps! May your next drama be less heartbreaking but just as romantic and thrilling!!

        also I just saw Goblin (loved it) and then I watched Coffee Prince because of Goblin and IT WAS SO GOOD OMY GOD. CHANGED MY LIFE. SO BEAUTIFUL LOVE TRANSCENDS ALL ;___; needed to fangirl with you about this….

        • I KNOW! And to tease us about it! It’s like putting salt on a wound!!
          Aww nice!! Glad you loved Goblin and Coffee Prince too! I actually haven’t seen Coffee Prince. I’ve got a huge list of Very-Popular-And-Important-K-drama-Oldies I need to watch but I haven’t been getting around to it sadly.

  3. I finally finished Scarlet Heart Ryeo this evening and I wanted to thank you for your reviews. Every time I finished a few episodes I would look to see what you had to say about them. I absolutely loved the show and really enjoyed your blog.

  4. Thank you so much for your lovely review! I just got through binging this show and omg all the feels, I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer! And theres no one to fangirl with – all my friends are like wtf are you even watching?? It was so compelling, and even though I’m hurting, I can’t really regret watching this. I did not know this was based on a novel, and honestly was no expecting the really tragic ending. My heart hurts so much right now, but I love your head canon! SO frustrated they didn’t let us see them meet up in modern times. URGH.

  5. I’m watching this drama in 2020. I’ve heard about this drama before but hesitated to watch it. I watched until ep 17. I was anxious to know how the story would end, that’s how I ended up coming to this page. Sigh. The drama was all fun at the beginning. Then after episode 10 maybe, each ep is getting sadder and disappointing. So many flaws in this drama. I haven’t reached to the final episode. What’s the point of making this story with two different time… goryeo time n modern korea. I thought there would be some magical thing or something like that. And come to think of it… all the brutalness happened perhaps due to Soo’s existence in that time… causing a change in the history. I kind of agree it was all her fault. Because of her, she unintentionally created a monster out of her lover. 2 monsters 8th prince n 4th prince.

    I’m tired watching this drama. I feel like quitting already.

  6. I just finished binging this show and the ending They had so much to offer.
    Honestly, I binged it till the last episode just in the hope of some happiness and almost gave up when Hae Soo died. I have been literally crying for the past few episodes. They played me I think. Even if she would have died with him it would have been tolerable but they had to separate them completely. I did not expect this not at all.
    It was heart breaking.
    Your review is like words out of my mouth. I could not have agreed more. It’s perfect.
    I am disappointed how 8th prince got away with all the evil things he had done. I did not like that character from the beginning.
    As for LJK, he proved that this drama is worth watching in his introduction. That scene itself told me how promising he is as an actor. However, that scene made me like So less. As you said, of it weren’t for LJK I would have hated Wang So to the core.
    In all I had so many problems with this drama but still I cried a lotttt.

  7. Scarlet Heart’s ending does seem to be rushed! One thing that truly irritates me is the reason why Jung forged Hae Soo’s handwriting at the front of each letter she sent to So. I mean, is that it??? That their handwriting is similar and then what??? Like, was Jung indirectly testing So if he would open a letter that “is written by his brother”; clueless, that it was really from Hae Soo? In addition, why does Choi Ji Mong kept on having doppelgangers (the homeless guy at the beginning and then the presenter at the mall at the end)??? Arrggghhh! As much as I liked this series, based on the loopholes in the storyline, I guess it’s the reason why it had low ratings in South Korea.

    • The doppelgangers for Choi Ji Mong – the first one I took as the person he switched with when he was a child (as he is from the future too). Given Hae Soo died and came back to the present (and at the end remembered), is it possible that Ji Mong also died and came back to the present and remembered (which is why he was lecturing on Goryeo?) and is trying to see if she remembers as well?

      • But the first doppelganger for Choi Ji Mong (in the beginning of the drama) was a homeless person, but he stated that he died as a child? I’m confused.

  8. I realise you wrote this many years ago, however I have just finished watching it and pretty much cried for the last 5 hours (watched the last disc of the dvd set). I’m exhausted! I really enjoyed it though and going online to find some closure found this blog. Have you managed to watch it again? Any more insights? I like your vision of the ending, I think I will go with it!!

    • I stan Exo, I adore Baekhyun, Nam Joo Hyuk is my first kdrama love (Bride of Habaek), Jisoo is my boo (loved My 1st 1st Love and live the bromance between him and NJH), and I’ve been in love with Kang Ha-Neul since The Heirs. Even that wasn’t enough to save me from feeling like I was going through the motions by the end. As much as I loved the not and playfulness of all the brothers at the beginning, after Eun’s death it all went downhill. I mean, NOTHING and no one was spared … And y’all couldn’t even throw us a bone and let us see them meeting in the present? Sigh … At least I still have the last two episodes of Mr. Queen left :/

  9. I love this drama. Yes, it has a lot of faults, but I love it. Actually, I watched the Chinese version first and loved it. It has a sequel and the flow between the two is great. I read online about the Korean version, including the criticisms, but I wanted to watch it. At this late point in time it took me a while to find where to view it online but finally I was able. It made me a die-hard Lee Joon-gi fan!

    I loved all of the princes and think all of the actors did a great job. IU too. As for the things I didn’t like about the show, they’ve been well covered by others, with the exception of Queen Yoo. I never really understood her hatred for her son whom she herself scarred for life (in more ways than one). If she had such an obsessive love for her first son, the 3rd prince, and a hatred for the 4th prince, why did she love the 14th prince so much? Didn’t make sense.

    Since I had watched the Chinese version of Scarlet Heart I knew how the story ended, but frankly, I liked the ending of the Chinese version better because he (the 4th prince) does show up at the museum exhibit in modern times and she does see him. Even if the Korean version still never had a sequel, if it had ended in that way it would have given all of us fans a heart-felt hopeful ending. In that way the Korean version is a disappointment.

    But still, Lee Joon-gi makes it well worth watching!

  10. I wish I didn’t read your blog cause I am still at the 15th episode. I only searched if the 10th Prince’s Wife died but I got the whole ending-I am so heartbroken. Should I still watch it even though they are not the end game? What do I do?! This is why I quitted Wattpad, its because of those tragic love stories they give me. Its okay if it’s genre is like horror or like zombies and the main leads would die, I would not be so heartbroken cause I don’t focus on their romance anyway and get attach to them. But when the genre is Romance, I get so attached and get broken because of their tragic ending. I hate curious ass for reading your blog.

  11. Eh! It’s been so long that I don’t even dare to hope for a second season in modern times BUT one with a happy ending.


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