See You In Another Life, Brother!
What happened 1000 years ago?
Episode 16 of Bulgasal: Immortal Souls begins 1000 years ago in the mountain. A cowering couple tell their daughter to run away with their babe. Only, as she wanders through the tunnels, frightened, she finds Sang-Un before her. Or at least her iteration from 1000 years ago.
Sang-Un is one half of the Bulgasal and with glowing eyes and blackened hands, she touches the baby’s hand. Hwal shows up too, although he looks at this scene with quiet disdain.
Sang-Un helps lead the poor girl to the village where a kind old lady lets her in. Sang-Un watches from afar as she’s taken care of. And as such, the seasons pass; winter frost turns to summer heat and back again until we settle on a time five years later.
The girl is now older and with her brother too. Their mother? The earlier iteration of Hye-Seok. As the kids run off into the woods, a three-eyed monster known as Jomagu attacks but Sang-Un is there once more to save them.
Why does Hwal grow jealous and angry?
Hwal worries that she’s becoming too attached to the children, believing she’ll leave him. Sang-Un reassures him though, as the two Bulgasal seem to be in love. Sang-Un though stops by with some medicine to help the poor kid, given he has a terrible cough.
Sang-Un soon decides to live with the humans, which causes Hwal to descend into a jealous rage. Sang-Un promises to return when the children have grown but it’s no good. Hwal’s rage is unsatiated as we cut forward 10 years.
The children have grown, with the girl resembling Si-Ho and the boy resembling Do-Yun. The trio head out into the woods but Eul-Tae happens to be there and he shoots an arrow into Do-Yun’s back. This occurs just after brutally murdering his own son, and in doing so Sang-Un shows off her Bulgasal eyes.
What happened in the village?
Eul-Tae blames his brother’s death on Bulgasal and because of Sang-Un showing off her eyes earlier on, she’s brought out before the whole village along with her family. Her hand is cut and as it instantly heals, everyone realizes that she’s Bulgasal.
So naturally, the King stabs her in the heart. Of course, in doing so this pain sees her fall back on Si-Ho’s words. She promised not to harm any humans and she stands by that, even if it means being hurt badly in the process.
When it’s suggested that Sang-Un should be beheaded. the King also demands that the house be burnt. And that’s when Hwal roars and shows up.
Why does Sang-Un turn on Hwal?
As Sang-Un regains consciousness, she awakens to find Hye-Seok dead and her children bleeding out. This pain, despite being Bulgasal, sees her sobbing and crying. Hwal has slaughtered everyone. This was his plan, and the smirk proves as much. He did this because of the humans trying to harm her.
When Si-Ho, the King and Do-Yun all stab Hwal together, the evil Bulgasal curses them all for as long as he will live. In order to stop this, Sang-Un sacrifices herself and stabs her own heart to stop Hwal’s wrath. Hwal promises to come back and get his revenge, finding her in the next life and reminding Sang-Un that she belongs to him. Wow, talk about a clingy boyfriend!
Anyway, this is the point where Eul-Tae shows up, begging Hwal to be like him so he too can get his revenge. Despite walking away, the King stabs him in the back, quite literally. He promises to ask for forgiveness in the next life (which he does by the Well in the present as Detective Kwon) and passes away.
Bulgasal Sang-Un returned to the cave after, unaware that Hwal died as a human. She was determined to gain revenge for the slaughter of the village, and that explains why she stabbed Hwal during the 600 years ago timeline and transferred the Bulgasal to him.
Is Eul-Tae defeated?
We then cut forward to the present. Inside the cave, Eul-Tae confronts Hwal and tries to encourage him to drink his blood and go back to being a monster, urging him to take the curse he’s been given. Hwal eventually fights with his other half, stabbing him in the heart… but also drinking his blood too.
As Eul-Tae loses consciousness, Sang-Un steps out to face Hwal. Her nose starts bleeding as he reverts back into his vengeful Bulgasal form. After looking over at Sang-Un, he eventually stabs himself in the heart. It’s a heartbreaking moment but also a necessary evil to put an end to everything.
Why does Hwal sacrifice himself?
Hwal is unable to forgive himself for what happened and admits that as long as he stays alive, the curse will never end. This way Do-Yun and Si-Ho will have a fighting chance at a normal life. Unfortunately, Bulgasal can’t reincarnate so this bittersweet goodbye is very reminiscent of the rooftop scene from Goblin, including the same burning cinders as Hwal leaves her side.
With Hwal dead, Sang-Un breaks the news to Si-ho and Do-Yun. The trio are understandably devastated and even more so when they learn about Kwon passing away too. Sang-Un is glad that Si-ho and Do-Yun are still alive though and asks Si-ho to have a good life and have lots of babies. As she touches her hand, Si-Ho sees everything that’s happened, including Hwal’s sacrifice to make it to this point.
What happens to Si-ho and Do-Yun?
Si-Ho and Do-yun return to the house and decide to make good on their promise of waiting for Sang-Un and Hwal. They both live in Hwal’s house, with the years passing and Si-Ho birthing and raising beautiful children. Years pass and Do-Yun and Si-Ho are still close. Do-Yun ends up getting married while Si-ho gets her big family.
How does Bulgasal: Immortal Souls end?
50 years eventually pass and the newly reincarnated Sang-Un receives a picture of Hwal’s house. With an address on the back, she shows up and notices a man outside looking exactly like Hwal wanting to buy the place.
When Sang-Un slips over, Hwal helps her but he cuts his hand in the process. Both Hwal and Sang-Un seem to have a faint sense of Deja vu. “Have we met before?” Hwal asks, as the camera cuts, scanning across to that beautiful family photo before fading to black.
The Episode Review
So Bulgasal bows out with a heartwarming ending, one that ties up all the loose ends, explains the 1000 year timeline and rounds everything out to a new beginning for pretty much everyone.
Reincarnating Hwal and having him run into Sang-Un, without even mentioning the proper origin of that photograph, how Hwal returned when Bulgasals aren’t supposed to, and how they both ended up there at the same time feels like a bit of a cop-out and at worst, reminds me of the rug pull akin to Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol.
After getting emotional about the sacrifice Hwal has made… he’s back. Surprise! Sure, it’s nice and the “Have we met before?” tugs at the heartstrings but it also negates the sacrifice he made.
Hwal did this to let go of his resentment and petty anger for all those years. He understands and accepts that in order for Si-Ho and Do-Yun to live fulfilled lives, he needs to die.
It’s the perfect way to understand, empathize and forgive Hwal for his faults but then he just turns back up anyway. It kinda rubs me up the wrong way that they did that but hey, maybe that’s just me! What did you guy think? Let us know in the comments if you feel (or don’t feel) the same way!
On the plus side though, there are some wonderful moments in this final episode, including seeing Eul-Tae die, Sang-Un breaking down into tears and the emotional farewells. The turning of time, and the changing of seasons, is captured beautifully too and the ending leaves all the big plot points tied up nicely.
Despite some gripes with the way this one ended, the road to this point has been quite the rollercoaster and there’s enough satisfaction to be had to recommend this one as a solid fantasy offering.