6 Mysteries That Are Answered In Episodes 15-16 Of “My Perfect Stranger”
And that’s a wrap on “My Perfect Stranger”! After eight weeks, 16 episodes, and a whole lot of shenanigans in 1987, we’ve finally reached the end of a show that never tried to be more than it was. Equal parts mystery, tenderness, and a love letter to parents, it upheld the importance of generational healing and how sometimes only tools from the present can fix the past. Here are five mysteries that the final episodes wrapped up and one that still remains open.
Warning: spoilers for episodes 15-16 below.
1. Answered: The killer’s identity
I had hoped that last week’s cliffhanger was a fake out and that Yoon Hae Joon’s (Kim Dong Wook’s) dad Yoon Yeon Woo (Jeon Jae Kwang) wasn’t the madman running around murdering women who read, but, alas, he is. The worst part is the complete dissonance this gives Hae Joon as he tries to reconcile the distant but brilliant father he knew with the vicious man trying to bludgeon his head in with a rock. Luckily, Baek Yoon Young (Jin Ki Joo) and Baek Dong Shik (Choi Young Woo) arrive in time to stop him from killing his future son. Hae Joon recuperates, trying to wrap his head around the truth and feeling guilty, but Yoon Young isn’t having the latter.
2. Answered: Why Byung Gu seemed to hate Hae Joon growing up.
The whole town is horrified at the killer’s identity. Yeon Woo’s father and Hae Joon’s grandfather, Principal Yoon Byung Gu (Kim Jong Soo), is a well-respected, beloved figure, and no one can fathom how he could possibly have raised a coldhearted murderer. Byung Gu is equally in shock at the fact that his son nearly killed his grandson. He’s under a ton of pressure—the police search his home and find a ton of suspicious events (such as Yeon Woo having secretly returned to Korea earlier than when Byung Gu believed so that he was able to commit the first two murders). But the police don’t have any direct evidence, and Yeon Woo knows it.
So when Chung Ah (Jung Shin Hye), Yeon Woo’s ex-girlfriend and Hae Joon’s mother, comes to Byung Gu with letters Yeon Woo wrote to her in “special” handwriting he reserved for her (which matches the killer’s notes), Byung Gu is faced with a difficult choice. When he finds that Chung Ah is pregnant, he tries to spare Hae Joon the indignity of being a killer’s child and tries to burn the letters. But Hae Joon has a vague memory of them from when he was a child and goes through Byung Gu’s things. He realizes that Byung Gu would have had no reason to hide the letters unless he was planning on withholding them from the police. He races from his hospital bed and manages to save one of the letters from Byung Gu. Hae Joon realizes that his grandfather must have concealed or destroyed evidence in the original timeline too, which means that he knew that Yeon Woo is a killer. Byung Gu pleads that this is for Hae Joon’s sake, but Hae Joon yells that the Byung Gu he knew was wracked with guilt over hiding the evidence and took it out on Hae Joon by being cold and distant his entire life. With that final blow, he hands in the evidence convicting his father to the police. And it’s all finally over.
3. Answered: the decision of Hae Joon’s mother
With the mystery solved and the car seemingly fixed, there’s no reason for Yoon Young and Hae Joon to remain in 1987. They try to leave but find that the car’s time-travel aspect isn’t fixed. Thankfully, this gives them more time to make their farewells, resulting in some of the best scenes this show has given us yet.
Not every child can say that they truly know their parents, and Yoon Young has had the privilege of seeing her mother and father blossom. Lee Soon Ae (Seo Ji Hye) would have been a broken woman without Yoon Young in her life, and Baek Hee Seob (Lee Won Jung) would have been a haunted man, resulting in an unhappy, painful marriage doomed by the ghosts of their past. But Yoon Young and Hae Joon took those ghosts away, and she can only marvel at the carefree, happy teens her parents are and tearfully wish them the very best in their shared future.
At Yoon Young’s urging (and due to his very obvious fondness for her), Hae Joon makes up with his grandfather, who has become the town pariah. People blame him for what Yeon Woo did, and Hae Joon can understand why Byung Gu sought to spare him that. But the old man perks up when Hae Joon awkwardly offers that they go fishing. They’re still finding their way around each other, but Byung Gu earnestly asks Hae Joon how he can give future Hae Joon a better childhood. Hae Joon’s touched, and the two finally call themselves family. But there’s one more member that Hae Joon needs to face.
He seeks out his mother Chung Ah, who’s living in a quiet village, readying to give birth. She plans on leaving her child with Byung Gu once he’s born because she still fears that he’ll turn out to be a monster like Yeon Woo. But rather than resent her, Hae Joon gives her a bittersweet smile, saying that he understands. He thanks her for giving birth to the child and simply hopes that she lives without regret. It’s a great moment that shows that not every problem can be fixed here. Chung Ah wasn’t the scumbag Hae Joon believed. She was a frightened young woman in a terrible position, and he finally understands where she was coming from.
4. Answered: Who left Hae Joon the time machine
With no one left to fix the time machine, Hae Joon and Yoon Young wonder if they really are stuck in 1987. Yoon Young wonders how Hae Joon found it in the first place and is intrigued to hear that it seemed to be waiting for him by the tunnel. Hae Joon ponders that too as well as the mysterious voice he heard back when he nearly hit Yoon Young and the two of them ended up in 1987. The voice said that only they could fix everything, and he wonders who it could be.
We don’t have to wait long to find out. A mysterious figure shows up at Hae Joon’s home when Yoon Young is absent and secretly fixes the time machine before being caught by Hae Joon. He’s is flabbergasted to recognize that the man’s voice matches the one he heard. The man (Jung Jinyoung) admits that he left Hae Joon the time machine. When Hae Joon asks why, the man reveals the truth: he’s Hae Joon’s son.
Hae Joon’s in shock that he has a son and wonders how he managed to do that when he dies in 2022, but his son insists that Hae Joon didn’t actually die then and that there was a part of that future that Hae Joon missed. A part where he was married and had a brilliant child who built his parents a time machine. Hae Joon is heartened that his son treats him with genuine affection, meaning that his childhood was happy. And as for Hae Joon’s wife? It’s none other than Yoon Young. Hae Joon’s delighted to hear it, but insists that they keep it a secret from her because he doesn’t want her knowing the ending of their story too soon. And with that, the car is fixed, and our couple ventures back to a future they hope is brighter.
5. Answered: Yoon Young’s parents in the future
Yoon Young and Hae Joon know they’re back when their phones catch up on a thousand missed notifications during the month of their absence. Hae Joon is greeted with a loving call from his grandfather, asking him if he’s back. Clearly, Byung Gu knew where Hae Joon vanished off to and was patiently awaiting his return. On the other hand, Yoon Young’s parents had no clue. She nervously returns home to a mother who’s alive as well as a bestselling author and to a warm, loving father. And the two parents are clearly still deeply in love. They laugh and joke together in the best of ways, and she’s ridiculously happy to see them so happy and have the relationship she always wanted to have with them.
She’s dating Hae Joon now (Kim Dong Wook always ends up being an anchor somehow!), and it confuses her parents to no end to see him. They both insist that he looks and sounds exactly like a rather heroic high school teacher they had back in the day, and Yoon Young has to fight not to giggle. They also wistfully reminisce over a good friend of theirs named Yoon Young, whom they named her after. Her mother can’t get over how they look oddly alike, and Yoon Young has to fight to hide her laughter. I do wonder why she never told them the truth when Hae Joon told his grandfather. But time fixes everything, and there’s still one last thing they can do.
6. Answered: What became of the time machine
On the one year anniversary of their trip back to 1987, Hae Joon and Yoon Young walk along the seashore as they once promised to do. He reveals that the time machine still has enough in it for one more roundtrip, and Yoon Young asks if he’s thinking what she’s thinking. The next thing we know, they’re back in the car and ready to return to 1987 for one more round. This time, they’ll save everyone: the teacher-in-training, Soon Ae’s sister, and Hee Seob’s friend. And perhaps this time, they’ll let Soon Ae and Hee Seob in on the truth so that they know that the friend they loved is the daughter they cherish.
What a lovely ending to a show that has stayed consistent to its message from the start. There are still a few unanswered questions and some leaps in logic that don’t entirely make sense. How did Hae Joon witness a false future of his death? Why did his dad kill/try to kill him? And why did he suddenly kill Yoon Young’s mother after staying dormant for so long? But overall, this show was a delight to watch and with a romance that felt like an old married couple finding joy in each other’s presence. Jin Ki Joo and Kim Dong Wook have incredible smiles, which certainly helped with that.
At its core, “My Perfect Stranger” was a show about children giving their parents a second chance. Hae Joon’s son wanted to help his parents with their regrets. In the original timeline, he would have had a father who couldn’t stop his own near-death and a mother who never forgave herself for her mother’s death. All of that went right back to Yeon Woo, so he built a time-machine. Yoon Young wanted to give her mother the chance to live freely without regret, and Hae Joon wanted nothing to do with his family but ended up saving them all the same.
This show recognized that our regrets, failings, and imperfections can follow us to the future in ugly ways. They can turn us into people we never wanted to be who can inflict harm on subsequent generations or haunt us every hour of the day. Not everyone has a time machine to go back and save our parents. Yet, there’s still to unpack generational trauma in ourselves and our parents where possible, so we only pass the best parts of ourselves down. The work we put in today will result in a brighter future for everyone. And that saves the people we love just as well as any time machine.
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Shalini_A is a long time Asian-drama addict. When not watching dramas, she fangirls over Ji Sung, and spins thrillers set in increasingly fantastic worlds. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, and feel free to ask her anything!
Currently Watching: “My Perfect Stranger,” “See You in My 19th Life,” “Delightfully Deceitful,” “Lies Hidden in My Garden,” “Numbers,” and “King the Land”
Looking Forward to: “Gyeongseong Creature,” “Ask The Stars,” “The Girl Downstairs,” “The Worst Evil,” “Queen of Tears,” “Vigilante,” “Demon,” “Daily Dose of Sunshine,” and Ji Sung’s next drama.