Was It Worth It?- Trolley Ep 16 Kdrama Recap

Hye Ju’s decision to turn in Joong Do creates a ripple effect for those in her life. In the aftermath, the remaining characters heal from their losses.

I am glad that Hye Ju pursued her own personal justice instead of leaving everybody’s fate to the notion of a “greater good” that would magically fix everything in their personal lives without effort from themselves.

Read Last Week’s Episode Review.

Who Does the Greater Good Help?

Joong Do walks into the ocean to commit suicide
Joong Do walks into the ocean to commit suicide

I know that the Trolley Dilemma is mainly an exercise of morality based on intrinsic human nature, but really – who on earth does the “greater good” help?

I hate to bring up Attack on Titan right now, but Kenny Ackerman said it best: “Everyone had to be drunk on something to keep moving on. Everyone… was a slave to something.”

I feel like that quote alone encapsulates what it was like to watch the Trolley Kdrama.

Everybody always talks about “the greater good” like it’s just one thing, as if we all have a common denominator for morality. But in reality, we don’t.

Woo Jae reflects on letting Nam Ji Hoon die "for the greater good" while speaking to the young man's father
Woo Jae reflects on letting Nam Ji Hoon die “for the greater good” while speaking to the young man’s father

Some people find killing yourself to atone for an admitted crime perfectly fine, while others (like myself) would rather people turn themselves in and have enough courage to own up to their own mistakes or transgressions.

Does the greater good even know what acts of atrocity have been committed while evoking their name?

Does the greater good even recognize how warped people become in pursuit of it?

Sure, the Namgoong Sol law would have potentially helped millions of people, maybe for countless generations to come. However, as the story has pointed out, public opinion is fickle at best on the matter.

How many people had to cover up other crimes, and commit even more just to attempt to get a constitutional amendment passed all in pursuit of a warped morality that wasn’t even assured to come?

Who Really Killed Nam Ji Hoon?

I’m going to be honest, if there was anybody to blame for Nam Ji Hoon’s death, I would blame everybody around him at a certain point.

Soo Bin goes to visit Ji Hoon's gravesite after helping clear his name to bring him flowers
Soo Bin goes to visit Ji Hoon’s gravesite after helping clear his name to bring him flowers

Hye Ju wanted nothing to do with Ji Hoon, and despite claiming to love him dearly she was relieved when his body was found in the river and not Yoon Seo’s.

Joong Do refused to take care of his son, and kept him at an arm’s length distance. He sacrificed his son time and time again all in pursuit of “the greater good” and his political career.

Woo Jae bet everything he had on Joong Do, even expressing regrets over putting his eggs all in one basket. Whenever the basket was about to break, Woo Jae took his two hands and mended it back together by any means necessary.

Despite the sexual assault in no way, shape, or form being Yeo Jin’s fault – her silence and refusal to confront the harsh truth allowed Ji Hoon to develop a perverted idea about family values, and what was actually true in life. Ji Hoon’s downward spiral of attempting to harm himself and ruin his life to simply hurt his dad can all be traced back to that one night he witnessed Joong Do raping Yeo Jin.

Soo Bin’s own mother rejected her, abandoned her, and started a new family. So, Soo Bin ended up living on the streets and fell in with a pimp who sold drugs and forced her against her will in many things. Meeting Ji Hoon – somebody who was utterly disgusted by the corruption around them – gave Soo Bin hope.

Ji Hoon’s death broke Soo Bin and made her fight for the truth, even though the meth he brought to the riverside is ultimately the one thing that physically killed him.

Everybody had a hand in Nam Ji Hoon’s death, even his half-sister Yoon Seo who resented him because he took all of their parent’s attention away from her. Because Yoon Seo developed an elitist complex where she believed her father could do no wrong, instead deciding herself who was a criminal (i.e., Ji Hoon) and who was a saint fighting corruption (i.e., her very corrupt father, Nam Joong Do) she never wanted to see the truth come to light. I could argue she ultimately fought against it.

Ultimately, this chain of events ran their course and buckled in Woo Jae seeing Nam Ji Hoon drowning in the Han River, and letting him die in pursuit of “the greater good”. The perfect secret he kept to himself, never sharing with anyone.

When in reality, Woo Jae’s pursuit of the greater good far outweighed the life of a young man made out to be a problem child for his father’s political ambition, and as security for Woo Jae’s life choices.

Does Trolley Have A Happy Ending?

All things considered, I’d say that Trolley does have a happy ending.

Hye Ju, Yeo Jin, Soo Bin, and Yoon Seo all have happy endings in Trolley
Hye Ju, Yeo Jin, Soo Bin, and Yoon Seo all have happy endings in Trolley

The Kdrama focuses on weighing your own personal truths against what society could benefit from, a “greater good” that will magically cure every single problem in the world overnight without any work or input from others.

Instead, I would argue that Hye Ju’s choice to turn Joong Do in, and clear Ji Hoon’s name posthumously was in itself a more important choice than anything for the greater good.

Why? Because it was personal.

Grandma Jo throws eggs at Assemblyman Nam's home out of frustration and hurt that her granddaughter will never get justice
Grandma Jo throws eggs at Assemblyman Nam’s home out of frustration and hurt that her granddaughter will never get justice

Sure, you could help people you don’t know everywhere with some law that people will forget about a year from now, or you can personally do what you can to make improvements in your own life.

Hye Ju could have kept her mouth shut and waited for the Namgoong Sol law to pass – but what if it never could?

As she pointed out to Chairwoman Woo, would Hye Ju have to continually wait to divorce Assemblyman Nam? Would she have to continually wait to expose the truth?

Would Yeo Jin continually have to suffer in silence over a sexual assault that was never even her fault? A sexual assault by somebody she trusted, and whose own mother she was close with?

Was Soo Bin supposed to lie about the man, Nam Ji Hoon, who died trying to help her? Was she supposed to continually wait until the law was passed to stop the harassment from JD?

Did the turmoil between Seung Hee and Hye Ju have to continue because it was detrimental to their health, but for the benefit of “the greater good” in getting the law passed?

Lee Yoo Shin's 20 year old lie to protect Seung Ho is finally exposed to Seung Hee
Lee Yoo Shin’s 20-year-old lie to protect Seung Ho is finally exposed to Seung Hee

How long did Ki Young have to suffer in silence under the tyranny of Lee Yoo Shin and bristle the distaste of his wife, Seung Hee?

How long would Ji Soo, Kwon Da Som’s mother have dealt with the infidelity of her husband if her friend Yoon Seo’s mother hadn’t given her the courage to speak up, which in turn gave Ji Soo the courage to finally end her own personal hell?

Why should action – or rather the recompense of justice be delayed on a pipe dream?

Why shouldn’t society – who is allegedly this “greater good” everybody cares about – individually take steps forward to correct the wrongs they see in their personal life, without waiting for somebody from above to swoop in and save the day?

Is Trolley Kdrama Worth Watching?

Trolley is a fantastic Kdrama to watch if you feel like you have no personal power in your day-to-day life.

I will not lie; it is an emotional investment that deals with very real and mature subjects that are happening even right now as I type this. If you are able to handle such things, and really want to know what you can do as an average person, an average citizen in your country when faced with atrocities beyond your understanding – this is a show for you.

In the end while it was rough, all of the characters realized their mistakes in their own way. Some characters paid dearly, while others walked away scot-free with nothing but their minds punishing them daily.

All in all, our core group of ladies Hye Ju, Yeo Jin, Soo Bin, and Yoon Seo make it out of the traumatic events relatively all right, all things considered. And honestly, that was all that mattered to me. ☺

But, tell me your thoughts.

Seung Hee and Hye Ju finally make up after 20 long years of lies kept their friendship torn
Seung Hee and Hye Ju finally make up after 20 long years of lies kept their friendship torn

Did you enjoy the ending of Trolley?

Did you feel like anything was left unfinished?

Was there anything you would change about the story?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Trolley Kdrama Episode Recaps and Reviews!      

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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