The Tale of Nokdu (2019)
Title: The Tale of Nokdu
Hangul: 조선로코 녹두전
Writer: Baek So-yeon, Im Ye-jin
Director: Kim Dong-hwi, Lee Hyun-jin, Kang Soo-yeon
The Tale of Nokdu Cast and Characters
Lee Seung-joon as Jung Yoon-jeo, Nokdu’s father
Song Geon-hee as Jeon Hwang-tae, Nokdu’s brother
Lee Moon-shik as Master Hwang
The Tale of Nokdu Ending Explained
Does The Tale of Nokdu Have a Happy or Sad Ending?
(Almost) everyone gets their happy ending at the end of Tale of Nokdu. Nokdu and Dong-joo get married and live together happily with their loved ones on their remote island. Yul-moo gets the throne he’s been fighting for.
What Happened to Nokdu?
Nokdu fights to protect the throne against Yul-moo with the King missing and presumed dead.
When the King returns, Nokdu attempts to convince him that he isn’t interested in taking the throne and Yul-moo is the traitor but the King doesn’t believe him. Nokdu realizes the King will not believe anything he says.
Nokdu is then hunted down by the King and Yul-moo’s forces.
After a fierce confrontation with the King, Nokdu is severely injured. He encounters his mother, the Queen, who decides to stay in the palace to protect him despite him asking her to leave with him. She asks Nokdu to forget all the pain and live happily.
An injured Nokdu escapes with Master Hwang when Dong-joo surrenders to Yul-moo, exchanging her freedom for Nokdu’s life.
A fully-healed Nokdu returns later to free Dong-joo from her captivity and the two run away together happily.
The Tale of Nokdu ends with Nokdu back on the island where he was living in exile at the beginning of the drama. He lives happily with the rest of Team Nokdu, working and spending his earned money on frivolous purchases Dong-joo disapproves of. Nokdu is also an honorary member of the Mueweol Corps, dressing up as Lady Kim to rescue widows with the rest of the corps.
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What Happened to Dong-joo?
Dong-joo arrives at the final battle in time, killing two of the King’s guards ordered to arrest Nokdu.
Dong-joo and Hwang-tae flee with an injured Nokdu. Nokdu asks Master Hwang to take his brother and Dong-joo to safety but she refuses to leave Nokdu’s side.
To save Nokdu’s life, Dong-joo makes a deal with Yool-moo, promising to stay by his side if he stops pursuing Nokdu. Yool-moo agrees to the deal, telling Dong-joo he will never let her go.
She’s going to be hidden from the world forever.
Later, she is reunited with Nokdu.
Do Nokdu and Dong-joo End Up Together?
Yes, Nokdu and Dong-joo end up together.
Dong-joo and a wounded Nokdu are trapped within the palace. While hiding in a storage room, Dong-joo takes care of his wounds. Dong-joo tells Nokdu that if they could go back in time to when they were in the widow’s village, she would run away with him.
The two are tracked down by Yul-moo and his soldiers and Dong-joo sacrifices her freedom to save Nokdu’s life. She agrees to stay by Yul-moo’s side forever if he lets Nokdu live.
After Nokdu has recovered from his injuries, he returns to free Dong-joo where she is being held captive in Yul-moo’s residence. The two escape to the island Nokdu was living on in exile at the start of the drama.
On the remote island, Nokdu and Dong-joo live together happily. Nokdu has a job and spends his hard-earned money buying expensive gifts for Dong-joo like expensive fabric. Nokdu is also going all out on their wedding to Dong-joo’s dismay.
The two get married in a chaotic ceremony attended by their loved ones.
What Happened to Yul-moo?
Yul-moo attempts to seize the throne when the King is missing and presumed dead but he is stopped by Team Nokdu. Upon the King’s return, he blames Nokdu for the rebellion which the King wholeheartedly believes.
He hunts down Nokdu but ultimately lets him go in exchange for Dong-joo staying by his side forever. He fakes Nokdu’s death, gets a dead body to present to the King, and the King stops his search for Nokdu.
Yul-moo keeps Dong-joo locked away in his residence and tries to win her over, bringing her dessert. He wants Dong-joo to love him sincerely and tells her he is willing to wait as long as it takes to get it. Dong-joo rebuffs his advances. She can lie to him but they both know that feelings can’t be forced.
Later that evening, Yul-moo returns to Dong-joo’s room to find it empty and all the guards knocked out. Yul-moo decides to let her go, accepting that she will never love him.
Nine years later, Yul-moo’s rebellion is successful.
Despite the King believing the prophecy is about Nokdu, it is Yul-moo, not Nokdu, who becomes king in the end.
Yul-moo reveals to the King that he shares the same birthday as Nokdu and the prophecy about the royal child was about him all along. His father lied about his birthday to protect him from the King’s wrath.
The Tale of Nokdu ends with Yul-moo on the throne: victorious but destined to be alone.
Who Happened to the King?
The King returns to the palace, siding with Yul-moo and believing that Nokdu is trying to steal his throne. He hunts down Nokdu but is fooled by Yul-moo’s claim that Nokdu is dead, calling off the manhunt.
Nine years later, the King loses his throne to Yul Moo and his rebellion.
The King asks Yul-moo to spare his wife, the Queen, and send her to live in a remote place outside the palace. Yul-moo agrees, and the King tells him his future will be lonely.
The King dies off-screen with the news of his death being revealed via the Queen’s letter to Nokdu.
What Happened to Hwang-tae (Nokdu’s brother)?
Nokdu’s brother, Hwang-tae, fights alongside Yul-moo to try and restore his family’s name. He’s sick and tired of living in exile because of Nokdu and Yul-moo has promised him a position at the palace when he becomes king.
At first, Hwang-tae stubbornly refuses to leave Yul Moo’s side despite the urging of his father and Master Hwang.
But when Dan-ho and Nokdu are fighting and Yul-moo has Nokdu in his crosshairs, Hwang-tae saves him. Hwang-tae also defends Nokdu against the King’s accusations of treason, telling everyone that Yul-moo is behind the revolt.
The Tale of Nokdu ends with Hwang-tae living a peaceful life alongside the rest of Team Nokdu and a romantic relationship with Ssok is teased.
What Happened to Yoon-jeo (Nokdu’s father)?
Nokdu’s father, Yoon-jeo, survives and is seen in the final episode living a peaceful life with everyone on the island.
He comforts Nokdu when they receive news of the King’s death, providing a shoulder for his son to cry on.
What Happened to the Queen?
The Queen, Nokdu’s mother, decides to stay in the palace to protect Nokdu. She threatens to kill herself if the King harms Nokdu which allows Nokdu to escape.
Nine years later, the Queen is shown reading a letter from Nokdu informing her of his marriage to Dong-joo.
The Tale of Nokdu ends with the Queen on a ship arriving on the island where Team Nokdu lives, to reunite and live happily with her son.
What Happened to Dan-ho?
Yul Moo’s loyal minion, Dan-ho, is killed by Ssook while trying to protect Yul-moo during the fight between Team Yul-moo and Team Nokdu.
Dan-ho dies in Yul-moo’s arms.
What Happened to Aeng-do?
Aeng-do, along with the rest of Team Nokdu, live on the island together at the end of The Tale of Nokdu.
Aeng Do eating the fallen treats during Nokdu and Dong-joo’s chaotic wedding ceremony is a highlight of the Tale of Nokdu finale.
What Happened to Yeon Geun?
Yeon Geun finally gets over his unrequited love for Lady Kim/Nokdu and begins a relationship with Muweol Corps member, Bok-nyeo.
The couple live together with the rest of Team Nokdu on the island at the end of The Tale of Nokdu.
What Happened to the Muweol Corps?
The Muweol Corps fight alongside Team Nokdu during the showdown between Yul-moo and Nokdu. Kim Ssook is the one who kills Dan-ho, Yul-moo’s loyal henchman.
The lady assassins escape with the rest of Team Nokdu to live on the remote island where they have built a new widow’s village.
The Tale of Nokdu Ending Review
The Tale of Nokdu wraps up with a satisfying ending that gives our beloved heroes the endings they deserve.
The drama veered into more serious territory in the latter half with the palace politics but the final episode returns to the light-hearted and comedic tone of the first half.
Nokdu and Dong-joo’s disastrous wedding was hilarious and heartwarming and I loved watching Team Nokdu living together happily on the island. Nokdu ending up where he started living on the island where he was exiled had the potential to be heartbreaking and regressive but it wasn’t.
Nokdu knows who he is now and has his loved ones by his side and with the arrival of the Queen at the end, I can’t imagine a better ending for him. If Nokdu had become King, there was no way he and Dong-joo would get their happily-ever-after because she is the daughter of a traitor. On an island with his loved ones, far away from palace politics is by far the better option.
On the villains’ end, I thought the King and Yul-moo’s endings were fitting as well.
The King finally learns the truth about Nokdu: that his son was telling the truth and never coveted his throne. I enjoyed watching the scenes with the King and Nokdu bonding before he learned of his identity and my heart broke a little watching his downfall although, of course, it was all his doing.
Yul-moo gets the throne but is destined to live a lonely life just like the King did.
As bloodthirsty and unhinged as Yul-moo turned out to be, I loved the glimpses of his humanity throughout the series and in the finale. I love that he let Dong-joo go to be with Nokdu, accepting that she will never love him. I was also pleasantly surprised when he agreed to let the Queen go when the King asked.
The Tale of Nokdu did a great job of making their villains nuanced and layered characters. Both men did despicable things but I couldn’t help but feel for them at the end.
What did you think of The Tale of Nokdu?