The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 recap – the finale explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 12, 2020 (Last updated: June 16, 2023)
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Netflix Korean series The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 16 - the finale


The King: Eternal Monarch finale is an incredible ending and while some fans will have questions, it provides a majestic conclusion to a deep story.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 16, the finale, which contains spoilers.

The King: Eternal Monarch recaps

How does The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 – the finale, open?

After 15 pulsating episodes, The King: Eternal Monarch did not disappoint with an eventful finale that brought tragedy and happiness all in one chapter. Let’s break down the finale. The finale opens with Luna texting Tae-eul’s father; she’s struggling. Meanwhile, Sin-jae is devastated he let Tae-eul go. Tae-eul is with Lee Lim at the portal, a gun pointing at the traitor and they walk through it.

The night of the treason

Episode 16 then moves to the Kingdom of Corea in 1994 — the night of the treason. Jo Yeong and Lee Gon have started infiltrating the palace. Lee Gon tells Jo Yeong that if he fails, he must kill Lee Lim at all costs — Jo Yeong reminds Lee Gon that he must protect the King and he may disobey the order. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 sees all stakes on the line in a thrilling start to the finale and this time, Lee Gon is not alone in his mission.

Win at all costs

Tae-eul tells Lee Lim that she is going to wait for Lee Gon to succeed in his mission and then when done, she will deal with him. Lee Lim reminds her that if Lee Gon succeeds, she will lose all her memories of the King — she understands this, stating she’s heartbroken. Tae-eul is making the same sacrifice as Lee Gon in this war, ensuring that they win at all costs.

The mission is in jeopardy

The finale then turns back to the night of treason; Lee Lim asks his men to kill young Lee Gon. Older Lee Gon and Jo Yeong enter the palace at the same time, guns raised as they take out all the men in gun-fu fashion. Lee Lim picks up the full Manpasikjeok and Lee Gon’s half disappear — the half that Tae-eul has also disappeared. Present-day Lee Lim tells Tae-eul that they may be stuck in the halfway world for eternity. Jo Yeong is hurt from the gunfire — the mission is not going well at this stage. Jo Yeong holds the young Lee Gon and cries. Lady Noh and the palace staff grieve at the death of the King. Jo Yeong remembers when Lee Gon gave him the Unbreakable Sword and he falls unconscious.

The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 is on a knife-edge at this stage, not knowing where the story is going to go.

Sin-jae makes a brave choice

Sin-jae shows his mother her real son and explains what his father did. She gets angry at Sin-jae, asking for her son back. When Sin-jae walks out, his mother runs after him and she accepts Sin-jae as her son as well. This was a powerful moment for Sin-jae who has battled with this cloud over his head all series.

Capital punishment

1994 Lee Lim heads to the bamboo forest with his full Manpasikjeok and watches the portal open; as he’s about to go through it, Lee Gon swipes him with the Four Tiger Sword and lets him know that he is the King and he is about to serve capital punishment. Meanwhile, the present-day Lee Lim tells Tae-eul that his nephew has failed, seeing how he is alive and well. Tae-eul tries shooting him but guns do not work in the halfway world. Suddenly, a bullet hits Lee Lim and the storms get more aggressive — memories begin to fade. In 1994, Lee Gon calls Lee Lim a traitor and executes him.

After the execution, the boy with the yo-yo suddenly becomes an adult and says “the door will close and only the memories will remain / should I break it or just let it be?”. Tae-eul realizes that Lee Gon succeeded in his mission which means he will not come back — “If our worlds flow different from the present, then I won’t be able to remember you. Then I’ll live without knowing you”. Slowly, all the memories fade. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 presents a tragic scenario — love divided by two worlds.

Analyzing the new timeline

The finale then moves to the Republic of Korea in 1994. Alternate Lee Lim’s wife is laughing in relief because her husband has died but she’s thinking hypothetically and takes him to the hospital. In 1995 in Corea, Kang Hyeon-min’s mother is being crazy and proposes that she and her son die together by jumping off a bridge — it’s revealed that it is Prince Buyeong helps out Hyeon-min. Prince Buyeong tells the mother to change the choices she makes to determine her son’s fate and she sobs.

The episode then moves to the Kingdom of Corea in 1999, a young Koo Seo-ryeong catches a little girl from stealing. The girl is Luna. Koo’s mother invites Luna inside for food and gives her money. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 presents different fates for the characters without Lee Lim’s intervention with both worlds.

The twist

The finale had to give us a final twist and it was a warming one.

Tae-eul wakes up in the middle of the bamboo forest with a bloody coat and a gun — she doesn’t remember the date but someone confirms she’s in the Republic of Korea and it is April 25, 2020. She rings Chief Park and asks where everyone is and suddenly cries. She narrates, “For me, only about a week had passed. The world seemed unchanged, yet some things had unfolded differently. I was still a lieutenant. And I still tried to do something nice for my dad once a month. And I lived every day with my memories of him still intact in a world where he or Sin-jae no longer exists. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 provides an ultimate twist making it more tragic for Tae-eul, who remembers Lee Gon and everything that had happened — it seems the boy with the yo-yo decided to break it a little.

Many versions of Tae-eul

In her world, Tae-eul sees Lee Ji-hun that pass her on the street with an army uniform who looks exactly like Lee Gon, making the whole ordeal heartbreaking. She stands there and sobs before collapsing to the floor. Meanwhile, Lee Gon is entering different doors to different worlds trying to find his Tae-eul but he keeps bumping into different versions of her — he’s intensely dedicated to finding her.

You finally arrived

The finale then moves to the Republic of Korea in 2021. Tae-eul gets a voicemail from Na-ri who tells her that some man has bought her a horse and he seems professional. Lee Gon stands there and assumes that Tae-eul doesn’t recognize him but then he sees her crying and realizes she remembers. It’s an emotionally intensive moment waiting for Tae-eul to speak — “You finally arrived” are her first words. She asks what took him so long as she kept waiting. Lee Gon explains that he had to go back to get Jo Yeong and that he had to open every single door in the Universe not knowing if she would remember him.

Lee Gon wonders how Tae-eul remembers if the worlds flow differently; she doesn’t care and kisses him and they declare their love for each other. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 provides the start of a happy ending, which the fans will appreciate.

Slight changes

The episode then moves to the Kingdom of Corea, 2022. It’s revealed that Kang Hyeon-min (known as Sin-jae) is friends with Luna and he plans on getting her a gift for her birthday — it is May 27, 2022. Luna visits Koo Seo-ryeong in prison; as an assemblywoman, she stole people’s tax. Koo moans how she should have become Prime Minister and tells Luna to get her a new lawyer. As Luna walks out, Koo shouts after her “Koo Seo-gyeong” — (we are not sure what is happening with names here — please clarify in the comments) — perhaps Koo’s mother brought Luna into the family and renamed her?

Weekend breaks

Lady Noh asks Lee Gon where he goes every weekend but he acts all vague. Every weekend Lee Gon and Tae-eul meet each other in different years to ensure they don’t bump into their counterparts. In one of the worlds they visit, Lee Gon runs the country but he’s a tyrant. In one of the worlds in 2000, Lee Gon wants Tae-eul to meet Prince Buyeong because he raised him. The couple keeps on visiting different worlds at different times. The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 details how the couple makes it work.

In 2022, Lee Gon meets Eun-sup and asks if he has got a driver’s license. Lee Gon tells him he is The Unbreakable Sword — as Lee Gon walks away, we learn that Eun-sup is in a relationship with Na-ri.

How does The King: Eternal Monarch episode 16 – the finale, end?

Lee Gon and Tae-eul end up in the same time period in Corea and Jo Yeong catches the couple in the forest — Lee Gon jokingly hides her under his coat. Lee Gon realizes he must clear the security footage at the palace. As the episode ends, the couple says goodbye and pledge to see each other on the following weekend and go back to their daily lives; Tae-eul fights crime while Lee Gon fulfills his monarchy duties and they vow to love each other tirelessly forever. The King: Eternal Monarch season 1, episode 16, the finale, is an incredible ending and while some fans will have questions, it provides a majestic conclusion to a deep story.

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