After 20 episodes, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung has finally concluded. The series had its ups and downs but kept viewers on the edge of their seats with bated breath on what would happen next. This fact is especially true when it came to Goo Hae-Ryung’s relationship with Prince Dowon Yi Rim.
However, the latter half of the K-drama concentrated on an event that happened about twenty years ago that changed everything in Joseon, which included the royal family.
Both Goo Hae-Ryung (Shin Se-Kyung) and Yi Rim (Cha Eun-Woo) discovered the truth behind that incident and in the final episode, they “want everything to go back in place.”
Righting the wrongs of the incident 20 years ago
Before continuing, this part of the article will contain massive spoilers for the ending of Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung. For readers who don’t want the ending spoiled, they should skip this section.
Over the latter half of Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung, the K-drama switched focus from the love lines between the protagonists to an event that took place 20 years ago. That section took place after it was clear Goo Hae-Ryung and Yi Rim established their relationship.
Through flashbacks, we learn about a unique place known as Seoraewon. As the series progressed, we learned that Seoraewon is a place where everyone despite rank, gender, or class can go and study cultures and new technologies.
The king of the royal family at that time, Prince Huiyeong Yi-Gyeom (Yoon Jong-Hoon) was a supporter of Seoraewon’s studies.
However, many believed that Seoraewon was a means to spread Catholicism and Prince Huiyeong Yi-Gyeom was a part of it. As a result, the prince’s brother and current king, King Hamyeong Yi-Tae, led in killing his brother. He wiped out Seoraewon, killing everyone involved with it (that they knew of), and seized the throne for himself.
Thanks to brave historians at the time, the truth of the matter was recorded. The recording itself remained hidden for its protection as historians associated with Seoraewon were also killed off, so the “truth would not be revealed.”
The truth is that the Second State Counselor, Min Ik-Pyeong, was the mastermind behind the situation. Two individuals, one being Goo Jae-Kyung (Kong Jung-Hwan), was delivering a message that stated what Seoraewon was about.
The message also said Prince Huiyeong Yi-Gyeom did not believe in Catholicism, but Ik-Pyeong intercepted the letter. He then sent a forged letter that led to the slaughter at Seoraewon.
We also learned that Prince Huiyeong Yi-Gyeom is Prince Dowon Yi Rim’s birth father, thus making him the legitimate heir to the throne. Furthermore, Seo Moon-Jik (Lee Seung-Hyo) was the dean of Seoraewon and was also Goo Hae-Ryung’s biological father.
Armed with the knowledge of the truth as well as the backing of the historian in charge of Seoraewon’s daily ledger, Prince Dowon Yi Rim and Goo Hae-Ryung confront King Yi-Tae. The two demand “returning everything in its rightful place.”
They also want the truth revealed that Second State Counselor Min Ik-Pyeong pulled the strings all along as the real enemy.
A cute happy ending
With the truth revealed and Crown Prince Yi-Jin (Park Ki-Woong) backing Prince Dowon Yi Rim and Goo Hae-Ryung, King Yi-Tae eventually does the right thing. It is not exactly a smooth process as Yi Rim was locked away for so long that he has very little knowledge of state affairs.
Ultimately, everything is in place, and Crown Prince Yi-Jin becomes the “good king” following his father. Prince Dowon Yi Rim continues to grow so he can eventually lead as the king with the help of his Yi-Jin and his grandmother, Queen Dowager Yim (Kim Yeo-Jin).
We don’t get a clear-cut answer on Goo Hae-Ryung and Prince Dowon Yi-Rim’s relationship. However, it is evident they are together as they “act like a married couple.” Both even sleep in the same room, which is only something married couples at that time do.
The MBC period drama enjoys a ratings’ boost
Though Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung was enjoyable to watch by many, the viewership ratings have been slowly going down as it progressed. Thankfully, the last two episodes of the series saw a rating viewership boost.
According to AGB Nielsen Korea, the last two parts of Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung recorded 4.6 percent and 6.6 percent respectively.
The latter viewership was not the highest any episode has earned (the 10th episode had 7.3 percent for the nation and 7.6 percent for Seoul). However, it is better than the four percent average the latter episodes received.
On top of the rating viewership boost, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung is trending on Netflix as one of their most popular shows at the time.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung was a wonder-period K-drama and was worth watching. It may no longer be airing on the Munwha Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), but there might be ways to watch reruns in South Korea.
For international fans, especially those living in the Americas, the entire series of Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung is made available exclusively through Netflix. Viewers will need to have a paid subscription to the streaming site to watch.