Private Lives episode 16 recap – the finale explained

By Daniel Hart
Published: November 26, 2020 (Last updated: February 9, 2024)
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Netflix K-drama series Privates Lives episode 16 -- the finale explained


It’s kind of fitting that the finale of Private Lives is bonkers and full of action — episode 16 ends the series with a slightly convoluted chapter, but it is fun and conclusive.

This recap of Netflix K-drama series Privates Lives episode 16 — the finale explained — contains significant spoilers.

We will be recapping this weekly — check out the archive.

The opening

Assemblyman Yoo Byung-jun asks Kim Sang-man about his approval rating; the assistant tells him that with Kwon dead, his supporters can only choose him. He asks who is fiance will be, and when he finds out it will be Bok-gi, they plan how she is going to be killed. As for Cha Joo-eun, they plan to make her useful by donating her organs; in matching scenes, she is kidnapped. The finale of Private Lives shows the Vision Room in full action to complete their sinister political plans. 


But Cha Joo-eun does not mess around for long; she tries to escape from the car she is in, distracting the driver. Meanwhile, Lee Jeong-hwan manages to stop the cops from arresting him by putting one of them under a gun. He handcuffs both cops and drives off. As he drives, Cha Joo-eun runs up to his car and joins him. Lee Jeong-hwan tells her they are being forced into a scenario that is scripted. I think its dawned on him that they are into the endgame now. 

Being fugitives will be difficult

Detective Kim Myung-hyun rings Lee Jeong-hwan and tells him it will be hard to live in Korea as a fugitive; he mentions that he and Kim Jae-wook have been framed for the murder of Kwon.  Lee Jeong-hwan tells Cha Joo-eun that Chief Jeong Dae-sang has been working for GK all along. Meanwhile, Kim Jae-wook quickly learns that the GK Vision Room has set him up and he’s fuming. He manages to distract Dae-sang and knock him out. 

Kim Jae-wook rings Kim Sang-man. He asks why he ordered the hit on Kwon. Sang-man mocks him, claiming he and Lee Jeong-hwan killed Kwon. Kim Jae-wook looks revengeful. Episode 16 shows how loyalty to Kim Sang-man is disposable, and Kim Jae-wook is now feeling the true nature of his boss. 

Kim Jae-wook’s weakness 

Kim Sang-man’s men also corner Bok-gi, and she draws a gun on them. She ends up shooting one of them so they back off; she manages to evade the hotel room. Suddenly, Kim Jae-wook arrives and helps her by fighting off the men. He tells her that he didn’t send the hit on her, but Bok-gi is understandably confused by his actions. Jae-wook tells Bok-gi that she is his weakness and gets suddenly passionate and emotional. Bok-gi walks right up to him and kisses the man, and they embrace each other.

We all knew this was coming, and it was only a matter of time — the last two episodes, these two characters have played against each other because deep down, they have feelings.

Bring in counterterrorism 

Kim Sang-man learns that everyone has escaped. He asks for the counter-terrorism team to get involved. He’s using drastic and desperate measures now to ensure his plans fall through.  The NSO get to work immediately, identifying everyone and making sure there’s a lockdown so that Cha Joo-eun and others can be found. 

The unlikeliest group 

Episode 16 puts all the main characters together, which we wouldn’t have been able to imagine at the start of the series.

Cha Joo-eun wonders what Kim Sang-man wants from all of this; what are his desires? She thinks they need to figure this out and Lee Jeong-hwan is on board. Bok-gi and Kim Jae-wook then join the group. Lee Jeong-hwan feels it’s gone on too far to join hands with Kim Jae-wook. Kim Jun-beom then joins the conversation. Kim Jae-wook then brings up the video on the phone — he believes the same people ordered President Choi to be killed and made it look like a suicide. There’s a narrative of assurances of developing the city and ensuring who became president next.  The group then conclude that there’s a mole in GK Technology. 

An attempted clean-up 

With Kim Sang-man’s plans starting to fall apart, he initiates a clean-up.

In media, the news that Assemblyman Kwon has been murdered circulates. Bok-gi and Kim Jae-wook gather evidence on Kim Sang-man, but suddenly, Kim Jae-wook is shot in the car, leaving Bok-gi shocked. As Detective Kim Myung-hyun is about to be killed in an alleyway, corporal Kang Soo-jin comes to his rescue. And then suddenly, Cha Joo-eun and Lee Jeong-hwan find Ms Im on the floor badly wounded. In the next scene, Lee Jeong-hwan has been run over. As the men are about to finish him off, Kim Jun-beom stands in the way. Episode 16 shows how easy it is for organisations to send out hits on people when their agenda falls through. 

15 days later

Cha Joo-eun narrates that it is now 15 days later; she feels like she is being watched. She sits down in Ribs Aplenty and has no idea where Lee Jeong-hwan is. Meanwhile, Lee Jeong-hwan is in the hospital recovering. Choi Yong-jin from UI visits him; he tells him where he’d like to go next. He asks for GK’s Vision Room to be disbanded for good. Kim Jun-beom stands behind him. 

Picking up Cha Joo-eun

At Ribs Aplenty, a disguised Lee Jeong-hwan picks up Cha Joo-eun, and they drive off together. Meanwhile, Kim Sang-man is alerted that the NSO has lost track of Cha Joo-eun. He suddenly laughs, knowing this is the work of Lee Jeong-hwan. Episode 16 begins the slow demise of a villain, who is using every last chess move to keep his plans in place. 

Cha Joo-eun versus Kim Sang-man

Cha Joo-eun meets with Kim Sang-man, and she is bugging the conversation. The pair start the conversation trading insults. Kim Sang-man asks for Jeong Hyeon-cheol’s phone and threatens her. She tells him that on the phone, there’s GK’s chairman. Kim Sang-man believes she is bluffing and threatens to phone NSO. Cha Joo-eun suggests uploading the photo of the chairman with the president, but Kim Sang-man laughs, stating that he only became the chairman because of him and he built GK himself. His narcissism is showing, but you always get the sense that Cha Joo-eun is using that in her favour. 

He finally breaks

Kim Sang-man then admits to killing President Choi. UI is listening in with Lee Jeong-hwan. Cha Joo-eun smiles as she’s got Kim Sang-man where she wants. On the news, it’s reported that Kim Sang-man has been demoted and he’s arrested in the Vision Room — detective Kim Myung-hyun shows the arrest warrant. His assistant is arrested for violating privacy laws. Lee Jeong-hwan arrives with evidence of all the orders Kim Sang-man has given to him as proof for the prosecution, but it also means he will be imprisoned as well. Episode 16 shows the end of Kim Sang-man, and the characters naturally start a happier life.  

Let the justice system now deal with it

The next few scenes show the justice system taking its natural course; Kim Sang-man is given a prison sentence. Lee Jeong-hwan also has to serve time for being involved. The media reports on the secret organisation GK Vision Room that violated people’s privacy. 

The ending 

The story then flits to the spy detective agency three years later. Lee Jeong-hwan is released from prison early, and Cha Joo-eun greets him. Kim Jun-beom is accompanying her as always. Meanwhile, Bok-gi visits Kim Sang-man in prison. She tells him how many people want him killed and she can’t wait to see it in the news. A few scenes later, he is repeatedly stabbed and killed by another inmate. It also turns out that Kim Jae-wook is working with Kim Jae-wook — it’s easy to suspect that it’s on a con. 

The finale ends with Cha Joo-eun finally getting her wedding day with Lee Jeong-hwan. The chapter closes with Cha Joo-eun’s friend walking into the bridal room, and it looks like she’s about to deliver bad news. The series leaves it up to the audience’s imagination; did they get married or does new drama implicate their lives?

It’s kind of fitting that the finale of Private Lives is bonkers and full of action — episode 16 ends the series with a slightly convoluted chapter, but it is fun and conclusive.

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