‘My Name Is Loh Kiwan’ Ending Explained & Film Summary: Did Kiwan And Marie End Up Together?


Directed by Kim Hee Jin, the South Korean romantic drama film My Name Is Loh Kiwan is based on Cho Hae-jin’s book, which goes by the same name. The film revolves around North Korean defector Loh Kiwan (Song Joong-ki) and the struggles he had to overcome to obtain refugee status in Belgium. What started as a gritty survival story soon turns into a romantic drama where passion surpasses logic at times.

With a counterfeit passport in hand, Loh Kiwan arrived at the Belgium airport. He was jittery when he handed the passport to the airport authority, but thankfully, he was not stopped. It was not just getting into a new country that was a challenge, but also surviving there. Kiwan arrived at the reception center to start with the legal procedure required to seek asylum. The challenge was to prove he was from North Korea and not a South Korean pretending to be a defector. The legal process turned out to be time-consuming, and Kiwan had no choice but to wander the streets of Belgium searching for work and shelter.

Spoiler Alert

Why did Loh Kiwan flee from China?

Loh Kiwan and his mother, Ok-hee, escaped from North Korea and settled in China. But unfortunately, their lives did not turn out the way they had imagined. Kiwan lost his job at the factory after he protested against the ill-treatment of a worker. He also came under the radar of the people’s police. Kiwan had no choice but to hide in the tiny apartment while Ok-hee worked at a restaurant to provide for them both. He often felt guilty for relying completely on his mother, but then again, he did not have much of a choice.

On the night of his birthday, when it was snowing outside, Kiwan decided to bring an umbrella to his mother at the restaurant and walk her home. Unfortunately, the police tracked down Ok-hee that night and inquired about Kiwan. She denied knowing him without realizing that he was waiting right outside the back door. When she opened the back door to hide from the police, she saw her son standing in front of her. The police, too, noticed it and chased the mother and son. Tightly holding each other’s hands, they ran for their lives. Before Kiwan realized it, his mother was run over by a truck.

In a blink of an eye, Kiwan lost his mother. He was not ready to leave her yet, but his mother begged him to run and live for her sake. Later, when he met his uncle, he was told that his mother’s body was sold to a hospital for money. The grief became too much to bear, and all Kiwan wanted was to slit his wrist and bleed to death. His uncle stopped him and encouraged him to fulfill his mother’s dying wish. Kiwan held on to the wallet full of money for as long as he could because it was the only thing he had left of his mother.

Why did Marie steal the wallet?

Kiwan had spent nights living in a washroom, and when that got closed, he took shelter at a laundry store. The next morning, when he woke up, he saw his wallet missing. Upon checking the surveillance footage, the police tracked down the thief. Kiwan begged the woman to return the wallet, and she was ready to do so if he restrained from filing a police complaint. He lied to the police to get his wallet back, and to his surprise, it was apparently not with her anymore. While Kiwan waited, Marie went to the basement of a bar to meet her dealer, Cyril. She owed him money, and he refused to hand over the wallet. Marie was a former shooting athlete, and he offered her to work for him to get the wallet back. It had been some time since he had quit, but knowing how dear the wallet was to Kiwan, she had no choice but to agree to the deal.

Marie was an addict who despised her father and had gotten involved with the Belgian drug dealer who exploited her. She could not recover from her mother’s demise, especially after finding out that her father had euthanized her. Marie resorted to drugs to numb her pain, and her life only got worse. Marie offered to help Kiwan find a job. Her father, Yoon-seong, worked at an employment agency, and she believed he could help him. After taking a shower and putting on fresh clothes, Kiwan was ready for his job at a meat factory. He was introduced as a Chinese-Korean at the factory to avoid the complications that came with his real identity. Kiwan finally had a job and a place to stay, and for the time being, he felt somewhat hopeful about surviving in the foreign land. Marie eventually returned the wallet to him after she agreed to work for Cyril. A romantic connection developed between Kiwan and Marie. Both their lives were a mess, and amidst all the madness, they were glad to have found each other. Yoon-seong did not approve of his daughter’s proximity to Kiwan; he believed Kiwan could never provide the support that Marie needed. 

What helped Kiwan prove himself as a North Korean defector?

Kiwan found a friend in Kim Seon-ju, a Chinese-Korean worker at the factory. She protected him from the bullies and helped him get accustomed to the new environment. Seon-ju had family back in China, and she worked to provide for her three kids, especially her youngest, who was about to go through surgery. When Kiwan expressed how he was struggling to prove in court that he was a North Korean defector, Seon-ju agreed to be his witness. Yoon-seong helped Kiwan connect with a qualified advocate to help him with the case.

On the day of the court hearing, Seon-ju came as a witness. She confirmed that she was aware that Kiwan had applied for North Korean refugee status, but she also believed that Kiwan was one of the many Chinese Koreans who lied about being North Korean defectors to attain refugee benefits. She lied about Kiwan’s actual name being Choi Ryuk-myung, and Kiwan stared at her with teary eyes. She was his only hope, and she broke his trust. Kiwan left his job at the factory and started working at a restaurant. Seon-ju met him one morning and apologized for lying at the courthouse. She explained that a refugee officer had come to the factory and threatened to shut it down if Kiwan’s documents were found to be forged. The officer warned her that her visa would not be renewed if she did not provide a false statement. The explanation was not enough for Kiwan to forgive Seonju. She was eventually deported to China because she did not have a visa.

Kiwan was surprised when he later received a parcel from Seon-ju. The note attached to it stated that, after returning to Yanji, she had spent most of her time at the newspaper archives. She and her kids went through hundreds of newspapers, and it was her youngest daughter who found an article that could help Kiwan. The article was about his mother’s accident, and it had her photo as well. It was enough to prove that everything Kiwan had stated during his first interview was true, and the photograph he had of his mother matched the one he provided as well. The evidence was strong enough for Kiwan to get approved as a refugee in Belgium, but Marie’s absence from the courthouse got him worried, and he left the courthouse in the middle of the hearing. 

Why did Marie flee from Belgium?

Marie got caught up in her dealer’s mess. Cyril assumed that he could always control her, and the minute she protested, he lost his calm. Marie won the first shooting match for Kiwan’s sake, but the second time she was asked to participate in a fixed match, she refused to cooperate. Marie intentionally shot way out of target and lost the match, leaving Cyril furious. She assumed that if she failed to prove her worth, he would let go of her, but it did not work like that. Cyril called her when she was about to enter the courthouse and threatened to kill Kiwan if she failed to meet him.

Upon reaching his spot, she discovered that Cyril’s business associate, Gerd, was waiting there. He demanded that Marie play every season in exchange for the debt Cyril owed him. Tired of being controlled by Gerd, Cyril protested and killed him with his axe. Gerd’s men shot him, but Cyril’s gang managed to overpower them. Cyril planned to escape to Amsterdam with Marie and continue to participate in betting games as a duo. Just as she was about to lose all hope, Kiwan came to her rescue. Cyril and Kiwan got into a fight, and right when Cyril was about to stab him, Marie shot him in the hand. She wanted to shoot him dead, but Kiwan stopped her. They were not murderers, and all they wanted was to escape. Kiwan and Marie left the place before Gerd’s men entered and killed Cyril. Since Gerd’s men would not give up so easily, Marie had no choice but to leave Belgium for her safety.

Marie was hesitant about leaving Belgium, especially now that she was in love with Kiwan and they could finally begin to think of a future together. But Kiwan encouraged her to leave, knowing that their love would not die as a result of distance and that one day they would travel the world together. Marie’s father helped her escape, and before she left, they mended their relationship. At the end of My Name Is Loh Kiwan, Marie and Kiwan parted ways, with Marie leaving the country to escape Gerd’s men.

Did Marie and Kiwan reunite?

My Name Is Loh Kiwan‘s ending takes us a year forward. We find out that Kiwan kept the vow that he made to his mother and did his best to survive in a foreign country. After Marie left, he continued to work at the restaurant, and he finally received the approval to live in Belgium as a refugee. Kiwan eventually realized he was not meant to stay in one place, and all he cared about was having the right to leave a country whenever he wanted. He left his job and was ready to risk leaving Belgium to visit Marie. The lovers were united a year later, just as Kiwan had promised. Time had passed, but their love for one another remained the same. We can imagine that Kiwan and Marie will have a future together, and even if life gets complicated, they will have each other to fix all their troubles.

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Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni Rudra
Srijoni has worked as a film researcher on a government-sponsored project and is currently employed as a film studies teacher at a private institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies. Film History and feminist reading of cinema are her areas of interest.

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