Was this really the finale of Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938? It feels a little odd that the series would leave behind so many loose ends unless a sequel is being planned, maybe set in 1939 or 1945, when Korea got independence. The writers of the series were so indulgent with the storyline, in the first few episodes existing purely to cure the hangover of Tale of the Nine Tailed (2020), with lots of Lee Dong Wook fanservice. When the story finally starts picking up, they rush the ending a little too much, so much so that it feels extremely unsatisfying. Additionally, why were we under the impression that this series was 16 episodes long when it ended with 12 episodes? Regardless, here is a detailed recap of the last episode.
Why Did Yeon Travel Back In Time?
Lee Yeon, Cheon Moo Young, and Ryu Hong Joo were mountain gods who grew up together. But years later, circumstances forced them apart. Originally, there was just one mountain god instead of four, but he had to be subdued as his power got to his head, literally, and he went crazy. His power was split and stored in four items, two of which are the golden ruler and the guardian stone. We believe that the mountain god possessed Moo Young’s older brother, Ho Young, and Yeon had to step in to kill him. That angered Moo Young enough that he started destroying all the life on the mountain he was the caretaker of. Therefore, Taluipa had no choice but to turn him into stone, both to stop him and as punishment for his crimes. In the present day, the God of Five Paths seems to be the one who has turned Moo Young back to his human form. In his own words, his intention is to wreak havoc on the world. But the trouble is that Moo Young has been taken for a ride. The person he revives with the help of the golden ruler that he stole from Yeon is not his brother but the original mountain god. Yeon must take the guardian stone back to his time at any cost because if that falls into the hands of the original mountain god, he will be unstoppable.
Meanwhile, the era of 1938 also comes with its problems. It is the height of the Korean independence movement, and the Japanese demons and gods are actively opposing it. At the head of it is General Ryuhei, who wants Joseon to lose at any cost. As part of that fight, he actively strives to eradicate all of Joseon’s indigenous gods, and it is by looking at this massacre that Yeon decides not to stay detached anymore. He wants to participate in the Korean independence struggle. He gets an opportunity at Ginko Tawara’s wedding. She is the daughter of Sho Tawara, a prominent Japanese ally, but Ginko herself is a freedom fighter. General Ryuhei is planning on marrying her, and Ginko agrees so that she can kill him and the entire Japanese force in one go in the venue she asks Shin Joo and Lee Yeon to help since she knows of their supernatural powers. But it is not that easy since the Shinigami mercenaries (or what is left of them) have kidnapped Yeo Hee (Lee Rang’s girlfriend) and Jae Yoo (Hong Joo’s right-hand man). Even Moo Young is dead at the hands of the original mountain god after he accidentally revived him. Yeon must rescue Yeo Hee and Jae Yoo and then fight Ryuhei before he goes back to his time, and he barely has any time to do it all.
With Shin Joo’s power of being able to talk to animals, the team finds that Yeo Hee and Jae Yoo are being held in prison. But that turns out to be a trap for Rang and Hong Joo. Jae Yoo has been given a potion that is driving him mad, and when Hong Joo rescues him, he attacks her. But in the brief moments when he regains consciousness, he understands the situation, and in order to protect Hong Joo, he ends up stabbing himself. Back in prison, Rang is overpowered by Yuki and Oogama, but he remembers his brother’s words, reminding him that he is stronger than he knows. With that faith, Rang gains the ability to protect Yeo Hee and Mi Yeon and fight off the mercenaries. But just as we suspected in episode 11 of Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938, the illusionist is also alive. However, it is really disappointing that he didn’t amount to much and is shot dead the moment he makes his entrance in episode 12. The honors are done by Lee Yeon of 1938, whom the 2023 Lee Yeon has invited to help by telling him that they will find Ah Eum in the future. The 1938 Lee Yeon also helped revive Jae Yoo and did his part for Hong Joo as well. With these two rescued, there is nothing in the way of Lee Yeon’s attempts to destroy Ryuhei.
Ending Explained: How Does Lee Yeon Go Back To 2023?
At the Bando hotel, Gink has arrived with her entourage (the women of Myoyeongeok) to plant the bomb at the wedding, and she is seemingly successful. But just as she is about to take her vows, it is revealed that it isn’t Ginko in the bride’s dress, but Lee Yeon, who had shape-shifted into her, and he is ready to take down everyone.
Meanwhile, the real Ginko is mercilessly killing every Japanese person that she can find, though her hand wavers when it comes to her father. Ginko had made sure that her mother wasn’t at the venue by substituting her medicine for headaches with sleeping pills. According to Ginko, her mother did not deserve to die. Ginko obviously doesn’t feel that way for her father, but she can’t bring herself to kill him either. But he doesn’t feel the same way and shoots at her. Luckily, Shin Joo comes her way and protects her while escorting her out of the hotel.
Back with Yeon, he is somewhat overpowered by Ryuhei, but that is because Yeon has yet to use his powers. He gets his petty revenge by telling Ryuhei that Korea gained independence in 1945 and that he is going to kill Ryuhei now. True to his word, Yeon flexes his powers by making a lightning strike and killing Ryuhei. When the rest of the Japanese army arrives, Hong Joo takes care of them while Yeon sets off for Taluipa’s place. But of course, it is never that simple, and there are people waiting to attack him outside as well. They are dealt with by Moo Young, who was brought back to life by the god of wealth and fortune. She had granted Yeon a boon in one of the previous episodes: he would lose his way, but she would be there to help him through it. Yeon uses that boon now to protect himself and says that he will find his own way if he gets lost again. With this final gesture, Yeon, Hong Joo, and Moo Young are friends again, and Yeon goes back to 2023 with the guardian stone to reunite with his wife at the end of Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938.
In 1938, Moo Young decided to find his old self, the one that Hong Joo used to like, and started acting as a doctor again. The 1938 Yeon is mending his relationship with Rang, and Ginko is working for the advancement and freedom of the country. As for Hong Joo, the three friends are actively fighting the Japanese in their own capacity to ensure that they contribute to their country.
This is not the ending we wanted. It almost felt like a last-minute decision to cut down the length of the story in favor of a rushed ending. The Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938 deserved a lot more, and there were so many questions left unanswered so far. Unless there is a sequel to this, we are going to consider the legacy of the gumiho completely ruined. When Rang gave up his life for the sake of his brother, it was a moment in Korean drama history. No one can forget the scene where Ji Ah jumps off the roof to check whether Lee Yeon is actually a supernatural being or not. And Yu Ri’s impulsiveness deserves its own hall of fame. Why destroy it all with an unnecessary extension of the story that adds nothing to the world of the gumihos? Either the makers give us a sequel, or they hope that people don’t watch Tale of the Nine-Tailed 1938 because, even if it has some amazing episodes, it ruins the legacy of its prequel.