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Even at the end, Why Her? remains on top. According to Nielsen Korea, Why Her? earned an average nationwide rating of 10.7% for its final episode – a new record for the show. The mystery romance drama follows Oh Soo-jae (Seo Hyun-jin) a lawyer who has become cold-hearted in her pursuit of success and Gong Chan (Hwang In-yeop) a law student who is relentless in his determination to protect Soo-jae. 

After developing the main character’s motivations in the first part of the series, the final half pushes each character’s dark secrets into the limelight. With the revelations of their past exposed, the drama pivots to setting up a cautionary tale on the pursuit of success. 

This review contains spoilers for episodes 9 to 16 of Why Her? and has mentions of suicide.

The first half of the series raised many questions, and for the most part the second half did well in answering those questions. One of the most anticipated answers was how would the relationship between Soo-jae and Gong Chan be affected once she finds out Gong Chan’s true identity? Once Soo-jae discovered that Gong Chan was Kim Dong-gu, she was extremely hurt that he had deceived her. As a result of this deception, Soo-jae tries to cut ties with him. However the shock of finding out who Gong Chan truly is did not come only out of pain from being lied to, but also because it brought back the guilt Soo-jae has from his case. 

During Gong Chan’s trial, Soo-jae’s mother and two brothers were on the verge of going to prison. Her Professor, Director Baek Jin-gi (Kim Chang-wan), convinced her to throw the case in order to earn the favor of then prosecutor Choi Tae-guk (Heo Joon-ho). In return, Tae-guk would take her under his wing and help her family evade jail time. Wracked with guilt, Soo-jae spent the last ten years throwing herself into work to make up for the case she gave up on. This is why she was so stuck on the concept of never letting her clients go to jail. 

From this point onwards we see a change in focus of the show. Soo-jae’s decision to sacrifice Gong Chan’s innocence for her family and future is the stepping stone in her taking the wrong direction to gain the acclaim she so desperately wanted. She again takes a misstep by using the fact that she knows Choi Jae-yi is her biological daughter to get Tae-guk to hand over 70 billion won and TK law firm. This decision indirectly led to the woman that Jae-yi believed was her mom to tell Jae-yi that she no longer will be living with her which causes her to run away. Sadly, before Jae-yi is reunited with her believed mother and father, she becomes the victim of a car accident. 

Jae-yi’s death sends Soo-jae over the edge in realizing how her shameful actions caused pain for the people she cared about. She blames herself for not being able to recognize her daughter and for trying to leverage her as a way to get the money and company she always wanted. Filled with remorse, Soo-jae tries to end her life, but Gong Chan is able to stop her before she can. Once again, Gong Chan is there for Soo-jae in her time of need and makes her realize that just like everyone else she has sinned. What makes her different is that she acknowledges that what she has done is wrong, and her feelings of shame only further prove her understanding of her wrongdoing. 

This difference is what sets her apart from being truly evil the way Choi Tae-guk is. Even though Soo-jae made bad decisions to try to gain a successful future, she knew what she did was wrong. Meanwhile, Tae-guk had no remorse for the things he did in order to get what he wanted. He manipulated his lover Park So-young (Hong Ji-yoon) to create a scandal that would benefit him, and when she posed a threat to his power he killed her, despite the fact she was pregnant at the time with his child. However, that is not even the worst thing he has done to achieve the power he so desperately wanted. Tae-guk murdered Jeon Na-jung to cover up his son and his friend’s crime. Faced with consequences of his actions, he doubles down on claiming his actions were justified in his pursuit of power instead of admitting his wrongs.

The disparity between how Tae-guk sees his actions versus Soo-jae is the reason behind why the outcomes of the two’s decisions are so vastly different. Soo-jae openly admits that what she did was wrong and still holds embarrassment and shame for her actions. She uses her past indiscretions as a warning to her students on what it is to become a successful lawyer:

“I hope you will arduously think about the direction  that will bring you to success instead of fixating on success itself.” 

Embracing her missteps is what allows Soo-jae to live a happier life with Gong Chan. All her decisions are her own to make, and the consequences are all hers to bear. Her life is now her own and not a life of striving to get to the top. Since Tae-guk wasn’t able to learn the same lesson, he killed himself without acknowledging that what he did was evil. Even though he couldn’t see the error in his ways, everyone else sees him as a disgrace.  The company he sacrificed his soul to has lost its esteem, and no one even wants to be associated with the firm anymore. 

In the end, we see Soo-jae able to live a happier life after going through so many hardships that you would think the world had something against her. Her struggles at times definitely can make viewers think “Why her?,” and after all the secrets are revealed, the answer to the title of the show is known. Why Her? is a story packed with mysteries, plot twists, and a comforting love story that will leave viewers with the perfect cautionary tale of what it means to become cold in the process of striving for success…but also how taking responsibility for your actions can open the door to redemption.

(Newsis. Images via SBS.)