Ryan lays in bed, sketching a sleeping Deok-mi. She wakes and tells him about her dream of painting with him when they were kids and playing with Eun-gi and her little brother. She remembers telling her mom that she wanted to become an artist and have exhibitions, and muses that while she didn’t become an artist, she is someone who hangs paintings in a gallery. Ryan points out that the real artist at an exhibition is in fact the curator.
At Cheum, Deok-mi, Curator Yoo, Yoo-seop and Hyo-jin work hard to prepare for the exhibition. Curator Yoo asks how Ryan came up with the title ‘Room Of Life’ for the exhibition. “Based on someone’s room full of fun, joy and cheer,” he says, as we are shown glimpses of Deok-mi’s room with the things she loves on display. On the opening day of the exhibition, Si-an’s fans line up for his show. Director Eom is proud of Hyo-jin when Si-an promotes the merchandise she designed during his photo-op. Amidst great footfall at the exhibition, Ryan and Deok-mi remember their adventures while procuring different pieces—from Writer Noh’s collection of his lover’s photographs to Lee Seol’s collection.
Si-an and Ryan look over their mom’s paintings and congratulate her on her first exhibition. They stop at Seon-joo’s cafe to grab drinks. Si-an likes the song playing in the cafe so much that he asks about the artist, and Seon-joo informs him that it’s Joo-hyuk’s band who have an album in the works.
Deok-mi and Ryan’s families head to a temple to visit the resting place of Deok-mi’s little brother. Ryan’s and Deok-mi’s moms connect because they share the pain of losing a child and comfort each other. He and she hang out with her dad, who tells them about how he started collecting stones after his son’s death. They find Eun-gi and his mom sitting under a tree and teasing each other about who will get married first.
Ryan and Deok-mi go on an adorable date and pick up paints for him. Deok-mi brings him to a cyber cafe to have him help with ticketing for Si-an’s concert. Ryan is dumbfounded, because Si-an has promised to invite them to his concert. Deok-mi points out that invitees always sit on the second floor and being Si Na Gil, she has to be in the first row. She is disappointed after she fails to score tickets but cheers up when Ryan gets them, calling him ‘hand of god’ while pulling his cheeks.
Deok-mi watches Ryan painting at home and gets the idea to research trends in the New York art scene, since he is based there. Ryan finds Deok-mi asleep in front of her laptop, lifts her in his arms and tucks her into the bed.
In a meeting with Deok-mi, Choi Da-in reveals plans to go back to New York. Ryan drops in and remarks that New York is the best place for anyone who plans to be active as an artist. Da-in notices the paint on Ryan’s hands and gets excited about his comeback as an artist but he shoots her down with the excuse that he’s not ready yet. Deok-mi wonders if Ryan isn’t going back to New York because of her and he placates her by saying that he doesn’t find his new work convincing enough to come out of retirement.
Da-in has one last drink with Eun-gi before leaving and they agree to stay in touch. Deok-mi sneaks in to Ryan’s painting room to look at his work and observes that he’s become warmer and perfect. Seon-joo and Seung-min visit Joo-hyuk at the recording studio to encourage him. At Eun-gi’s gym, Geon-woo gives his judo exam and his proud parents film him.
Deok-mi gets a surprising call from Mono Art Gallery. Cheum employees gather at Seon-joo’s cafe to discuss Mono Art offering Deok-mi a job. If she takes it up, she will have to go to New York. That night, after confirming that the job offer had nothing to do with Ryan’s influence at Mono Art, Deok-mi decides to take up the job. She also finally convinces Ryan to come out of retirement and exhibit his current work in New York.
Before leaving for America, Ryan and Deok-mi visit their parents. Upon visiting Ryan’s mom at Si-an’s place, they find the idol upset because of his fansite Si Na Gil going on hiatus. Deok-mi consoles Si-an that his fansite will “definitely” be back and smacks Ryan, who is trying not to laugh. At Cheum, Ryan apologetically introduces the replacement director—Director Eom. Finally, they meet up with Eun-gi and Seon-joo at the cafe for drinks.
Ryan and Deok-mi head home. When she calls him director, he points out he’s not one anymore and she asks him to choose between Lion, Ryan and Yoon-jae. He suddenly turns serious and proposes to her. In her classic fangirl style, Deok-mi says yes by going “I like it!”
A year later, Director Eom welcomes her husband after his release from prison. At Cheum, Hyo-jin teaches an intern how to make coffee. Director Eom calls a meeting to introduce the gallery’s new Vice Director—who turns out to be none other than Deok-mi. They’re all over the moon to have Deok-mi back. Curator Yoo informs her that she’s head curator now, while Yoo-seop has become a curator and they’re finally dating. Hyo-jin sulks about all the dating going on at Cheum.
Deok-mi’s parents are reading an English article about Ryan’s exhibition in New York when Deok-mi visits them. They throw a mini feast to celebrate the return of their daughter. Seon-joo is waiting for Deok-mi at her apartment, and Deok-mi congratulates Seon-joo on her pregnancy. The two fangirls make plans to go to Joo-hyuk and Si-an’s performances. They tease Eun-gi about his supposed new girlfriend but he refuses to divulge her identity. We see a clip of Hyo-jin and Eun-gi at his gym, trying to film a YouTube video, and it’s pretty obvious who Eun-gi’s girlfriend is.
Cheum Museum’s Vice Director Sung Deok-mi is at work when she gets a call from Ryan. She misses him, and he surprises her by returning from New York earlier than planned. They kiss at the same spot they took pictures at when they were fake dating and the show concludes with Deok-mi’s voice telling the viewers, “I hope you become successful fans.”
Final thoughts: This has been a delightful show from beginning to end. It started off as a run-of-the-mill rom-com in a strange setting but did some things that were anything but run-of-the-mill. First and foremost was the character of Ryan Gold, who started off as the traditional arrogant male lead but morphed into one of the gentlest, most non-toxic leads I’ve seen in a K-drama. I for one can’t believe this was Kim Jae-wook’s first rom-com because he’s a master at everything that makes rom-coms tick—the romance, the comic timing, the swoon-worthiness, and the kissing. More Kim Jae-wook romances please!
Deok-mi and Ryan’s relationship also defied stereotypes in the way that he was never once judgmental or critical of her fangirling. To top it off, he genuinely found joy in how the act of fangirling made her happy and actively encouraged her to go after what makes her smile. The friendship and sensitivity Ryan and Deok-mi developed towards each other as they fell in love was a joy to watch. Park Min-young will be keeping her title as “Queen of Rom-coms” for a long time.
I wasn’t entirely convinced with the new arcs introduced in the last two episodes, especially Deok-mi’s brother. The secondary characters of the show could have been developed more because I found myself disinterested in their stories and the conflicts with Eun-gi and Da-in seemed forced. Still, what this show lacked in this regard, it made up in not one but two incredibly pro-LGBT arcs—first with Ryan assuming Deok-mi is a lesbian and going out of his way to protect her from being outed, and second, with Writer Noh and his photographer friend’s story, which was so touching it made me cry. I hope K-dramas take a cue and keep delighting us with similar choices in the future.