‘Island’ Part 1: Recap And Ending – Everything You Need To Know Before Watching ‘Island’ Part 2

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Choosing to release a single series in two parts is a marketing strategy being increasingly adopted across all OTT platforms. It works as a way of creating more hype around the content being released and keeping it in the public consciousness for longer, not to mention how it adjusts well to the decreasing attention span of the audience. But there is a style of writing that must be applied when opting for such a strategy. In a regular season, the first half usually serves as the build-up to the mystery that starts entangling in the second half. But when you separate these parts, it can seem like the first half is just a teaser of what is to come. Instead, it must be treated as a season within a season, with just enough material to keep us wanting for more. That is where “Island” fails. It spends a lot of time on the placement of its characters and hints at an epic story in the making but reveals so little of it that it becomes entirely forgettable.

Additionally, the one thing we know we can expect from k-dramas is the chemistry between characters. Why was there next to none of it? Why does the bratty priest have more “noona chemistry” with our protagonist than her supposed love interest? And honestly, with the exception of Cha Eun Woo and Sung Joon, who play Johan and Gungtan, respectively, not a single one of them even looks the part, not to mention that they are not that well-written, to begin with. Why is Won Mi Ho, a fully grown woman who is the heiress to a fortune and was a skilled fighter and a powerful priestess in her past life, so unintelligent? Her first thought when she discovers the demons should have been to probe into why they are targeting her and why Van is so determined to protect her. Instead, she leaves it all to fate to unfold by itself. As for Van, what is he even doing when not fighting the demons? We get that he is a skilled fighter, but is that all we are going to know about him?

Additionally, can we say that the narrative is so tired that a being who has suffered a single tragedy in his immortal life has let it define his entire existence? It is characters like these that make us fall for the bad guys, which brings us to how Gungtan, of whom we only got a glimpse towards the very end, held some truly invigorating screen presence. The same can be said for Cha Eun Woo, who really brightens up every frame he is in. In fact, if he was not a part of “Island,” this drama would truly have gone under the radar, unnoticed. Either way, allow us to set our frustrations aside and tell you the events of the first part of “Island” to refresh your memory in case you plan on watching the second part of it, for Cha Eun Woo’s beautiful face and prankish smile. 


The Past

In ancient Jeju, which we assume from the costumes and Van’s age is almost 500-600 years ago. Demons roamed free, and a priest, Jongryeong, was trying to come up with an effective weapon, mainly a human weapon, for fighting against them. That is when he chanced upon two boys who had somehow survived an attack that had destroyed their village and their families. The priest performs a ritual in which he turns the two human boys into part-demons. The ritual kills most people it is performed on, but these two boys survive, which means they have now turned into demon slayers.

The boys are kept locked in a cage when they are not being trained and are subjected to the cruelest of treatments, which we don’t doubt must have been the teaching methods of those days. It looks like there is no saving them, except for Won Jeong, another child who is training to be a priestess. She and Van take a shine to each other almost immediately, and one fine day, seeing that everyone is distracted, she unlocks their cage and escapes with them. The trouble is that she is grievously hurt, and that is why, despite her saying otherwise, Van brings her back to the establishment, also putting himself and Gungtan in captivity once again.

Years later, due to some turn of events that have yet to be revealed, Van kills Won Jeong. She is the high priestess who is going to save the world from demons and is reincarnated as Won Mi Ho in the present day. When she comes to Jeju Island, Van takes it upon himself to protect her once again.


Why Does Won Mi Ho Come To Jeju?

In Seoul, Won Mi Ho is a rich heiress who goes viral when she tries to protect her driver and car from a bunch of thugs. The video shows her attacking the men, but not the reason she had to do that. That brings her and her father’s company under a lot of fire. Mi Ho tells her father that it was a set-up by her aunt, who wants to take the chain of hotels for herself, but her father retorts that the damage has been done anyway. This forces Won Mi Ho to go to Jeju temporarily as a guidance counselor to deflect media attention. 

She goes to Jeju with her secretary Kang, and Butler Jang, both of whom are closer to her than her own family. The moment she steps into Jeju, she is attacked by a lust demon but is saved just in time by Van, though she doesn’t know his identity yet. While she is still trying to come to terms with it, she discovers that Secretary Kang, one of her most trusted people, was in cahoots with her aunt. Heartbroken, she walks away after confronting him and finds that he has just turned into a lust demon and wants to kill her, but she is saved once again by Van.

Meanwhile, another character comes on board, the one who made the drama worth watching: Priest Johan. A character who is barely in his 20s yet has an astonishing record of exorcisms, He has been sent by his church in Italy to assist whatever group still exists to fight the lust demons, and he is going to be assisted by Butler Jang in this mission. He starts living in Won Mi Ho’s house as Mr. Jang’s nephew and becomes quite close to her. But before that happens, Mi Ho tries once again to leave Jeju, but she is attacked by lust demons and rescued by Van. This has started feeling like an obsolete pattern now. Van tells her that the demons will follow her anywhere, so it is best that she stays back on the island. Mi Ho is quite stupefied, but she thinks fast and asks him to be her bodyguard. While Won Mi Ho is getting comfortable with him, Johan is suspicious as he knows exactly who Van is.


Fighting Demons In Jeju

Baek Ju is an old woman who has been in Jeju for years—in fact, for centuries. She knew Van from when he was a child and actively helped him in his mission. We are not sure, but we think Kyung Jun, a child who goes to Mi Ho’s school, can be called her granddaughter. She approaches Mi Ho with a problem regarding her friend, Su Ryeon, who is being blackmailed and abused by her boyfriend. When Mi Ho goes to investigate it with Johan, she finds Su Ryeon possessed by Benjulle, a demon that was supposed to protect helpless women in need. Mi Ho and Johan fight against the demon with the help of Van and successfully rescue her. When she tries to file a case against Su Ryeon’s boyfriend, she finds that there is next to no sustainable evidence that they can use. However, justice is served because, though the trio managed to rescue Su Ryeon, Benjulle is still alive, and he kills the guy.

Back in the house, Mi Ho is clearly developing feelings for Van, though he still seems very detached. Van and Johan get into a fight when the latter tries to test Van’s powers and limits. Unfortunately, at the very last moment, when Van has unlocked the demon within him, Mi Ho sees him and realizes what he is. Not being in control of himself, he attacks her, but he stops himself before he can actually harm her.

Mi Ho is devastated and confused, but she decides that she doesn’t want to stay away from him. She goes to meet him, but he pushes her away. Angry, she decides not to meet him again. But there is a new problem in town. A fox demon is on the loose and is killing people and dismembering them, to be precise, looking for their liver. This brings us to a bit of a backstory on Johan. His real name was Chan Hyeok who spent his childhood in an orphanage with his older brother, Chan Hee. Both of them were adopted by a couple from abroad. But they had only been taken because they needed their liver for their child. Once they got that, the kids were abandoned. Chan Hee has grown up in poverty, struggling with pain his entire life, whereas Chan Hyeok grew up in the church, where he was presumably taken care of.

Mi Ho helps track down Chan Hee and reunites the brothers, and Johan brings him back home. However, unknown to him, his older brother is the fox demon, and he has been turned by Gungtan, who is back in Jeju. It proves to be a tough night for Mi Ho as her best friend’s fiance is killed right in front of her eyes by Gungtan, and she is unable to do anything about it. Later, Gungtan and Van have a confrontation where it is revealed that Won Jeong had betrayed them in the past. Gungtan believes that it was intentional, but Van thinks it was a matter of circumstances. Exactly what they were will be revealed in “Island” Part 2.

As for Johan and Chan Hee, the former is excited to be back with his brother, but his feelings are dampened when he discovers that his brother is the fox demon after all. Chan Hee was converted by Gungtan, and he told him that once he killed Won Jeong and took what was hers, which we think means her liver, then Chan Hee wouldn’t be in pain anymore. Chan Hee asks Chan Hyeok to kill him, as that would help him escape the pain, in addition to the fact that he doesn’t have much to live for anyway. But Chan Hyeok is not ready to give up and decides to exorcize his brother. Unfortunately, the attempt is unsuccessful, so he seeks Mi Ho’s help, asking her to do what she did with Benjulle. Mi Ho is unsure; however, she goes to meet Chan Hee anyway. But it doesn’t work out, and just as the fox demon is about to attack Mi Ho, Johan kills him.

Mi Ho is aware that she is Won Jeong and that she must establish a barrier. That means she still has to figure it out, but right now, the characters are invested in her fate for reasons more complex than duty. Johan lost his elder brother for her; it is a matter of revenge and betrayal for Van and Gungtan, and for Mi Ho, it is a matter of the love she feels for Van. With the stakes as high as they are, the biggest surprise is that Kyung Jun is part of Gungtan’s group, which does his bidding in whatever destruction he is aiming to cause.


What Should We Expect From ‘Island’ Part 2?

We need to get a clearer picture of the past right away. We need to know exactly what and who Won Jeonng is and why she supposedly betrayed Van and Gungtan in the past. Not just that, but what caused Van and Gungtan to have a falling out? We believe that it might turn out to be an interesting clash of interests. Despite an underwhelming “Island” Part 1, we are strangely hopeful for Part 2 to be exciting. How Kyung Jun manipulates Van and Mi Ho will certainly be interesting. Additionally, in case she is harmed, will Baek Ju’s loyalties change? But most of all, we want to see what happens to Johan. One of the reasons we liked him so much in “Island” Part 1 is because of his easy smile and manner. It would be really sad if they disappeared. Either way, let us see what Part 2 has to offer and if it can salvage a disappointing Part 1.


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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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