The South Korean fantasy series, Hellbound, depicts a supernatural angel-like creature who prophesizes the time of death of an individual. And on the day of prophecy, three demons or executors from hell demonstrate total damnation and take away the individual’s soul. Amidst such meaningless chaos, a voluntary religious organization, “The New Truth,” interprets the damnation and labels it divine retribution. They inflict fear on people to propagate their agenda of raising a righteous society. Its chairman and founder, Jung Jinsu, claims these supernatural acts are God’s way of punishing sinners. But like all cult leaders, even Chairman Jung has his secrets. What is he hiding?
Hellbound, directed by Yeon Sang-ho, and written by Choi Kyu-sok, is based on a webtoon of the same name. Season 1 is a Netflix Series that is divided into 6 episodes.
‘Hellbound’ Plot Summary
On November 10, 2022, three demons appeared in a coffee shop near Hapjeong Station and attacked a 36-year-old man, Joo Myeonghun. After brutally assaulting the victim, they seized his soul and disappeared.
Soon after the incident, police investigator Jin Kyeong-hoon and his partner Eunpyo are ordered to investigate a religious cult group, “The New Truth.” Its leader, Jung Jinsu, founded the organization in 2012 and since then has been vocal about these divine retributions. The organization also has a radical or extremist wing called “The Arrowhead” that doesn’t shy away from using physical violence to promote its propaganda.
The patrol team and investigators arrive at the crime scene and discover that these demons didn’t leave behind any evidence. Hence, their origin cannot be traced. Detective Jin comes across a small gathering of The New Truth volunteers, where Chairman Jung informs one of his followers that the victim, Joo, was charged with multiple counts of fraud and assault. Therefore, he states that the purpose of his damnation was to serve justice. He sinned, and thus God punished him.
After the gathering, Jin spots his teenage daughter, Heejung, helping Jung. Jin gets furious and orders her daughter to leave. The two detectives follow Jung on public transport as he reveals to them his past life and humble living.
Before leaving, Jung tells Jin that he is just a messenger of God who informs people about God’s wish to live more righteously. This damnation instills fear in people, causing them to refrain from committing sin. Jin disagrees and says if these damnations are divine retribution, then God must really think that humans don’t have autonomy over themselves. The scene establishes the conflict between these two prominent characters, a clash that the Hellbound series follows further.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Why did Chairman Jung create The New Truth?
At the end of Hellbound Episode 3, Chairman Jung called Detective Jin to the ruins of his Catholic orphanage, Yulhye Angels Haven. He explained to Jin that 20 years ago, he received a prophecy under the very same roof. The angel told him that he would die at 10:30 PM, 20 years later.
Jung explained that he wanted God to bring back his mother and thus never committed any sin before the prophecy, yet God prophesied to send him to hell. The big revelation established that these decrees didn’t only happen to the sinners, but it was random.
Jung spent his youth trying to find a legitimate reason behind this strange phenomenon, but he couldn’t find any. He lived in constant agony since the day he received the decree, and it made him more righteous. Jung wanted people to feel the same fear. He founded The New Truth and promoted his propaganda. But the real popularity came when these damnations were witnessed by the general public. They started to believe in Jung’s words and shared his fear. Jung believed that the fear of God would eventually set people free from their sins and make the world more righteous.
However, his ideology was short-lived. Soon after his death, pastor Kim Jeongchil took over the organization. He held public demonstrations of the damnations to inflict fear in people and humiliated the families of those who received a decree. He turned The New Truth into a radical society with his tyrant beliefs.
What happened to Detective Jin?
Detective Jin’s wife was murdered by a drug addict, Kim Changsik. However, the court released Kim after six years, believing he committed the murder under durg influence. Chairman Jung used the incident to persuade Jin’s daughter, Heejung, to execute Kim. He made it look like damnation, similar to the case that happened near Hapjeong Station.
Chairman Jung framed Heejung to exploit Detective Jin. He gave him two options. If Jin had decided to reveal the truth to the world that these damnations were not related to human sins, pastor Kim Jeongchil would have exposed Heejung’s crime. In that case, Jin would have been forced to arrest his own daughter.
However, to protect his daughter, Jin dumped his self-righteousness and kept Chairman Jung’s demonstration secret from the world.
What happened to Min Hyejin?
Lawyer Min started a war against The New Truth and its radical group, Arrowhead. However, at the end of Hellbound Episode 3, pastor Kim Jeongchil tried to kill her. Fortunately, she was saved by police sirens and survived the attack.
Four years later, Min Hyejin and Professor Gong Hyeongjun started their own organization, Sodo (named after her original law firm). The secret organization helped those who received a decree. Under pastor Kim Jeongchil’s chairmanship, the deacons of The New Truth started threatening the families of those who received a decree. The Sodo Firm protected the victims from being known so that their privacy could be maintained. They believed that these supernatural phenomena weren’t related to sins, but the New Truth blindly followed the lie.
Min Hyejin wanted to expose the New Truth and end its tyranny. She finally got an opportunity when a decree was received by a newborn baby named Toughie.
How did Min Hyejin plan to expose The New Truth?
The child of Sohyun Song was prophesied to die in three days. According to Min Hyejin, the doctrines of The New Truth had no concept of original sin or redemption. In simple words, the followers of The New Truth believed that humans choose to sin, so these decrees happened. But what sin a newborn could commit?
When the newborn received a decree, Min Hyejin decided to record the baby’s demonstration to expose The New Truth.
Did Toughie Survive? What happened to Producer Bae and Sohyun Song?
The newborn’s father, Producer Bae Youngjae, his wife, Sohyun Song, and Min took shelter at Lee Dongwook’s house. He was a former member of the Arrowhead who used to create vlogs wearing a skull mask, to promote their radical ideologies. However, one day after a stream, Lee received a decree and left the organization because he believed that he had never committed a sin and that this decree could happen to anyone.
Lee was prophesied to die five minutes after the newborn baby. Pastor Kim told Lee that God made a mistake by announcing the death of a newborn baby, and he was trying to correct it by killing Lee. Lee convinced himself that he was carrying out God’s will and, in his madness, attacked Min, Producer Bae, and Sohyun.
Sohyun ran out of the apartment where the demons appeared and started chasing Toughie. The mother hustled to protect her child, and soon Producer Bae joined her. Bae and Sohyun wrapped themselves around the baby while the neighbors recorded the parents’ protective gesture and love. The demons burned Bae and Sohyun to death, but Toughie survived because of his parents’ sacrifice. Lee Dongwook tried to kill Toughie, but Min Hyejin intervened. Before he could harm the baby, the demons appeared and killed Lee.
The New Truth and Arrowhead members arrived outside the building to take the kid and arrest Min. The neighbors blocked Deacon Yuji’s path and helped Min run away with the Toughie. An old man accused Yuji of lying to the general public in the name of God. The crowd showed their disbelief in the New Truth, and Yuji turned hostile. He attacked the old man and was arrested for battery.
Who was the Taxi Driver who helped Min?
The end of Hellbound Season 1 depicted Min Hyejin sitting inside a taxi with Toughie. The driver expressed his thoughts about human autonomy. He said that this world belongs to humans, and they should be able to settle their matters themselves without the interference of God.
Coincidentally, Detective Jin had the same belief. The dialogue was emphasised thrice in the series, particularly to indicate the theme of the narrative. The ending sequence didn’t reveal the Taxi driver’s face clearly, but it could be Detective Jin.
Perhaps, after Chairman Jung’s demonstration, Detective Jin left his job. His daughter murdered a person, and he couldn’t arrest her. Maybe, his conscience didn’t allow him to serve the law, and he started driving a taxi instead. If this taxi driver was really Detective Jin, then it portrays the perfect reunion with Min Hyejin.
‘Hellbound’ Ending, Explained – Will there be a Season 2?
The demons didn’t take the life they came for; hence Toughie survived. Instead, they killed his parents, Producer Bae and Sohyun Song. If the laws of heaven and hell are absolute, then these creatures ruined the process of divine retribution. As a result of their mistake, a woman came back to life. Park Jungja, who was sent to hell in Episode 3, got revived.
There could be many reasons behind her resurrection. I believe her revival was Min’s act of atonement. Professor Gong told Bae that Min blamed herself for Park’s public demonstration. Hence, exposing the New Truth became her pursuit.
If Jin’s philosophy of human autonomy is true, then only humans are capable of saving humans. The act of being human could stop or reverse these supernatural phenomena. If saving one life means saving the entire humanity, then Min’s act to save the baby and the parents’ sacrifice resulted in Park Jungja’s resurrection. Nevertheless, these are just theories, and probably Season 2 of Hellbound will shed some light on the origins of these demons and the resurrection of Park Jungja.
Hellbound is a Supernatural Drama Series created by Yeon Sang-ho. It is streaming on Netflix.