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Lovely Runner Theories: 10 Possible Endings for the K-Drama Series

Updated: May 21

Suddenly, Monday is our ultimate favorite day of the week—and it’s all because of Lovely Runner.

Mind-boggling time travel, heart-racing cliffhangers, perfectly-timed comedy, tragic twists, a breathtaking soundtrack, and an ultra-shippable lead duo who are both each other’s heroes—it’s been a while since a well-crafted series that seamlessly switches between genres blessed our TV screens.

Starring Byeon Woo Seok as Ryu Sun Jae and Kim Hye Yoon as Im Sol, the K-Drama ranked no. 1 in 133 countries. More importantly, it ran straight into viewers’ hearts, cemented its spot in there, and will always remain a lovely memory that gave us butterflies. The series had us LOL-ing till we cried, and made us wonder: where on Earth are our very own Sun Jaes and Im Sols in this life?

Having premiered on April 8, 2024, with a viewership rating of 3.0% for its first episode, the series is set to end its run on May 28, 2024. (Seems like we’re all going to have to find another purpose for living after that.)

While none of us are ready to say goodbye to SolJae just yet—we can all collectively agree that there’s one thought keeping us up in the middle night and giving us dark circles: Will Lovely Runner give us a happy ending or will it be so tragic we’ll feel the need to file legal charges for emotional trauma?

At this point in the story (end of ep. 12), it’s almost as if the tragic events (you know, Sol’s kidnapping and Sun Jae’s death) are merely being delayed rather than prevented. And we refuse to accept that the universe can impose “destiny” upon us no matter how hard people try to fight back.

Step under our umbrella of Lovely Runner theories (of course, it’s a yellow umbrella) and walk with us in the rain as we take a closer look at the 10 possible endings we see for the show.

Theory # 1: A Happy Ever After for SolJae

Theory 1 source

A little birdie in the form of this photo evidence below shows us that there’s a yet-to-be-aired scene where Sun Jae sends a coffee truck for “Director Im Sol.” (Uhm…OMG her dream came true?!)

This points to the possibility that Sol’s tragic accident was prevented, both of them have become successful public figures (crossing our fingers that Sunjae still became a famous idol/actor!), and they’re still close to one another. So the chances are high we can toss those theories of Sol choosing to avoid Sun Jae altogether to save his life.

Or this could be a scene from the present-day timeline before the stalker Kim Young Sook gets to harm Sun Jae. Or maybe it’s one of those present-day timelines that Sol will end up changing once again. But maybe that’s our trauma speaking and us being way too negative.

Okay, scratch that.

As the cutest and most chaotic K-Drama couple of 2024—we'll fight anyone who disagrees—#SolJae deserves a happy ending and WE deserve to see them live happily ever after.

It’s true that ,any K-Drama viewers are so done with the typical happy endings. Conclusions with a pinch of sadness in them tend to be more memorable and impactful, but we know we're not alone when we say we refuse to accept a tragic ending for Lovely Runner.

SolJae is a duo that hits different. They've dealt with so many twists and turns, and so we wouldn't be mad if their story's ending leads to a road that's all smooth cruising.

A picture says a thousand words. And this snapshot right here is making us a thousand times more confident that #SolJae lives on. *claps like a seal*

Theory # 2: The Same Ending—Sun Jae Still Dies

Byeon Woo Seok in Lovely Runner
Byeon Woo Seok as Ryu Sun Jae in "Lovely Runner" | Image from tvN

Every true Byeon Woo Seok fan would know that this immensely talented & versatile actor has a penchant for roles where he, well…dies.

He followed the light in 20th Century Girl and Strong Girl Gang Nam Soon, and now we honestly have trust issues every time we see him on screen. In many ways, it’s made his already perfectly portrayed characters even more memorable. And there’s no denying that every Byeon Woo Seok fan (Hi, Mailbox!) on the planet now naturally feels like protecting this precious baby–-and is ready to tell the Grim Reaper to find someone else to pick on.

So, again, this is the trauma speaking when we say, what if Im Sol was merely given the chance to go back in time to simply experience it all over again? What if she was given this miraculous chance just to regain her precious memories of Sun Jae and not actually change anything?

If that ends up being the case, well…curse you, universe.

Theory # 3: They Never Met To Begin With

Lovely Runner's Im Sol and Ryu Sun Jae
Kim Hye Yoon and Byeon Woo Seok | Image from tvN

At the end of episode 12, we were given a glimpse of episode 13—and in this preview, Sol says “Maybe we should have never met, Sunjae.”

This sounds a lot like an Easter egg for an ending none of us want. Sol might end up having to choose a future where Sun Jae doesn’t know her to begin with.

Erasing That First Yellow Umbrella Moment

They would rewind back to the time where Sol with the yellow umbrella first ran to him in the rain, thinking he was the delivery guy. Only this time, she simply walks by in slow-motion, avoids him, and doesn’t take the package. Hajimalago—we just bawled at the thought of it–did you?

And then maybe she moves away to another country far, far away so Sun Jae never gets the chance to be *blinded* by her stunning beauty like what happened in the past.

Sun Jae Loses His Memories

Another Lovely Runner theory on our list is that Sol could end up meddling with time in a way that she prevents Sun Jae’s death but he ends up injured anyway and loses all his memories of her.

From this point on, Sol might end up avoiding him altogether to prevent any other tragic incidents from happening in the future. Aigoo.

Theory # 4: Someone Else Dies in Place of Sunjae

Lovely Runner
Song Geon Hee and Kim Hye Yoon in "Lovely Runner" | Image from tvN

Remember how we told the Grim Reaper to pick on someone else just a while ago? Yeah, well that might end up being how the Lovely Runner story ends.

This could be a case of “trade” where Sun Jae’s life is saved but someone else ends up dying instead. And we have a gut feeling it could be either Im Sol or Kim Taesung (Song Geon-Hee).

During their fight against the serial killer in 2009, Sol might end up sacrificing herself for Sun Jae. Or Kim Taesung could swoop in out of nowhere and save both Sol and Sun Jae like the cool guy that he is. And as we all tearfully watch on and yell at the TV, uri Taesung will be the one whose life was traded so Sun Jae can live on. Aigoo, again.

After all, Kim Taesung is such a loveable character and it only makes sense for him to have such a significantly heroic role in the story.

Theory # 5: Im Sol Gets Stuck in the Present Time Zone

Im Sol from Lovely Runner Kdrama
Im Sol in 2008 | Image from tvN

We’ve all seen Im Sol seamlessly time-hop between the decades and all—but how sure is she that that magical watch of hers will continue to function as she pleases? What if there’s some sort of a…well, “technical error” and she ends up getting stuck in the year 2009 permanently? She’ll be forced to live through the years all over again and by the time 2023 arrives, she’ll no longer have the power to go back in time and change the future once again. Instead, she’ll be forced to accept her future—no matter how things unfold.

Theory # 6: Im Sol Using Kim Taesung as a Weapon To Push Sun Jae Away

Lovely Runner
Lovely Runner | Image from tvN

Remember how Im Sol initially thought that Kim Taesung just used her to push away that high school bully who was obsessed with him?

That definitely wasn’t the case—come on, Taesung is a total green flag—and he already told her the truth about how he really feels (at the beach in episode 12). But still, out of Sol’s desperation to push Sun Jae away permanently, she might resort to pulling the same trick and choose to be with her first love, Taesung instead. That would be super rude though, TBH.

Theory # 7: They’ll Get Rid of the Stalker Themselves

Lovely Runner
Kim Young Soo A.K.A. The Stalker Who Needs to Be Gone | Image from tvN

But can we all just collectively agree that Im Sol literally has a superpower that she isn’t using when she needs it most?

TBH, when the killer appears she could just yell “Obama is presideeeeent” again to stop time, grab a brick or whatever, and smack the life out of the stalker.

But, of course, the writer probably think that would be anti-climactic and make the resolution way too easy.

On the other hand, we do see a possible Lovely Runner theory where Sol, Sun Jae, and Taesung devise a super smart plan to get rid of the stalker themselves without involving the police (since, you know, the cops kind of proved to be quite incapable after arresting the culprit at the end of episode 10 only for him to escape from them.)

Once that sucker’s out of the way, they can all continue peacefully living their best lives <3.

Theory # 8: Sun Jae Never Became a Member of Eclipse

Theory 8 Source

Lovely Runner fans will remember that the end of episode 10 showed us a snippet of how the future was altered significantly by Im Sol’s time travelling.

A present-day breaking news segment about Sun Jae’s death was suddenly changed into a headline about Eclipse releasing their 5th album, but *gasp* the group photo on the news headline only had 3 members instead of 4. And of course, another Lovely Runner theory was born.

Did Sun Jae never become a member of Eclipse to begin with despite being offered to sign a contract? Is this how his life ends up being saved because it’ll be so much harder for Kim Young Sook to know his whereabouts if he isn’t famous?

Or, instead, did Sun Jae end up dying way earlier than expected—like, during the 2009 encounter with the stalker?

Theory # 9: There Are Other Time Travellers in the Story

Now here’s a Lovely Runner theory that gives us goosebumps all the way: Im Sol isn’t the only time traveller in this story.

In fact, fans are assuming that Kim Taesung, Sol’s Halmeoni, or Kim Young Sook are hopping through time as well.

A. Kim Taesung Is a Time Traveller

Theory 9.A.4 Source

  • Evidence #1:

Didn’t you also notice how Taesung from 2009 was completely unfazed when Sol told him about her being a time traveller?

  • Evidence #2:

How about how he says “Are you back, granny?” almost as if he’s so used to the concept of time hopping.

  • Evidence #3:

And don’t even get us started on when Taesung said this to Sol at school in episode 2 “But, hey. Don’t step forward and think about your own safety from now, or you’ll get hurt badly.” That has to have some sort of deeper meaning, right? Or is that just us being a bit delulu?

  • Evidence #4:

Remember when Taesung and Sun Jae got into that fight at the video shop? There was a moment during this bromantic bickering session when Taesung said “Time is all I have”--- and maybe we’re reading into it too much, but it’s not far-fetched that some time travel magic of his own is being implied here.

Let’s not forget how he almost died that in the very scene too. (Please don’t tell us that’s some sort of foreshadowing)

  • Evidence #5:

It wasn’t until episode 8 that viewers got a glimpse of present-day 2023 Taesung. In this scene, we see him hovering around Sol’s apartment complex on the night of Sun Jae’s death. Security walks up to him with a flashlight to question what he's doing there. (And TBH, before watching this scene, we all had a bad feeling that Taesung never made it to 2023 alive and well.)

Word on Lovely Runner Fandom Street has it that Taesung knew in advance that Young Sook would be following Sol, and so he stayed close to her house that day to protect her. After all, what are the odds he’d know exactly when and where to be on the lookout if he wasn’t also a time traveller?

Has it ever crossed your mind that Kim Taesung might be on a time-hopping mission of his own to save Sol and Sun Jae? Has it ever crossed your mind that this ultra-fashionable guy is the plot twist and the unsung hero? See what we did there?

Ultimately, this is a Lovely Runner theory we’d totally roll with.

B. Halmeoni Is a Time Traveller

Theory 9.B Source, Source

  • Evidence #1:

Since Halmeoni made her very first appearance in the show, it’s been quite evident that she tends to gravitate to that magical time travel watch all the time. I mean, we get that it’s a pretty watch, but she gravitates toward it just way too much. Even while suffering from dementia, she made the effort to take the watch out of Sol’s glass box and put it on in episode 1.

In episode 8, when Sol frantically looks for the watch everywhere to turn back time again, it ends up being on Halmeoni's wrist all along. Been busy doing some time travelling in the meantime, perhaps?

  • Evidence #2:

In the same episode, there's also a scene in their home where Sol's trying on a pair of heels and Halmeoni says "My pumpkin's legs have been cured. You're walking."

To which Sol replies "Grandma, do you remember it? Do you remember that I couldn't walk and that I was in a wheelchair?"

And then, Halmeoni nods.

Uhm, wait. What?!

Let's not forget how this is a future where Sol's accident never happened. Then how on Earth does Halmeoni know about her being paralyzed?

There's only one logical explanation for this that does not sound logical at all: Grandma's a freakin' time traveller, people!

C. Kim Young Sook is a Time Traveller

Theory 9.C Source

Aren't you also extremely frustrated about how difficult it is to take down Kim Young Sook? He's just one guy who works alone—and yet no one seems capable enough to stop him and put him behind bars. This criminal always seems to be a step ahead of everyone else.

We have a hunch that the guy's got a magical watch just like Sol's and that’s why he knows exactly what's gonna happen when because he's been there and done that.

  • Evidence #1:

If you look closely, one of Young Sook's hideouts has a signage that reads "Mirae Livestock Medicine." Mirae translates to "future" in English. Was that just a neon sign hint right in our faces that we totally missed? *facepalm*

Theory # 10: Detective Kim Taesung

Theory 10 Source

The last Lovely Runner theory on our list stars Kim Taesung once again. When he made his first present-day appearance in 2023 (ep. 8), he was clad in a green jacket (‘cause Taesung’s a green flag, you know) and a black baseball cap—a typical detective-on-a-mission outfit if you ask us.

Since his dad's a detective, it's possible that he followed in his footsteps and is out to catch the criminal before he gets to harm Sol and Sun Jae in 2023.

Hold Your Yellow Umbrellas Up, Lovely Runner Nation

Which of these Lovely Runner theories are running through your head too? Will we need to hold up our yellow umbrellas to catch all the tears that will fall as a result of a tragic ending? Or will we hold our umbrellas up because of a bright and sunny finale?

One thing’s for sure: this K-Drama's fandom has no plans of running toward the finish line just to find out what the ending is. In fact, we’d happily waddle and crawl through this road if it meant time would pass by slowly and we’d get to be with our lovely #SolJae ship longer.

For now, these are the theories we’ll be carrying on piggyback until we find out what’s written on the last page of the Lovely Runner series on May 28, 2024.

Till then, remember to switch your screens to tvN at 8:50 pm KST on Mondays and Tuesdays—and start thinking of a new way to survive Mondays once this show's over 😭



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