Jirisan – K-Drama Episode 10 Recap & Review

Goblin Fire

Episode 10 of Jirisan starts in the year 1991 as Dae-jin and Gye-hee escort Geun-tak to Black Bridge Valley. Geun-tak seeks permission to build the cable car where the village currently stands. The village’s mayor, Kim Jae-gyeong, outright refuses.

That night, Jae-gyeong’s young son wanders outside through the dark when he sees a floating light in the distance. Meanwhile, someone wearing black gloves dumps an animal carcass into the village well, polluting the water source.

In 2019, Yi-gang and Hyun-jo head to Black Bridge Village to check on the live streamer without permission from Dae-jin. Yi-gang sends Il-hae and Gu-yeong a message to let them know.

Woong-soon is on patrol when he finds the live streamer passed out by the side of the road. After Woong-soon shakes him awake, the live streamer hysterically rants about having seen goblin fire.

Il-hae has the day off because of his aching legs and Gu-yeong has taken it off to study. They are both at the restaurant Yi-gang’s grandma runs when Woong-soon arrives and tells them about the live streamer.

On the mountain, Yi-gang and Hyun-jo show up at Black Bridge Village. They find the live streamer’s fallen phone when pairs of glowing lights appear between the trees around them.

Not noticing the lights, they trek through the foggy village and end up right where they started, also realizing their GPS devices don’t work. Hyun-jo spots the lights and Yi-gang smells something that sends them running.

Gu-yeong calls Haedong Station, letting Yang-sun and Dae-jin know that Hyun-jo and Yi-gang are at Black Bridge Village. He also tells them about the supposed goblin fire.

Yi-gang’s radio falls as Dae-jin tries to contact her. Hyun-jo decides they can’t stop to grab it as the lights move into their path. They take shelter in a cave left by the Partisans with a gate fitted at its entrance.

We jump back to 1991 and the villagers have begun collecting buckets of water from a nearby stream. Jae-gyeong’s wife, Kim Seong-suk, is doing just that when she’s stopped in her tracks by someone wearing black gloves.

Dae-jin and Gye-hee are called to the village the next day after Seong-suk is reported missing. Another villager found bloodstains and her bucket by the stream, but Seong-suk herself is unaccounted for.

A search and rescue mission begins. Efforts are hindered by the tricky nature of Black Bridge Village where paths end dangerously or disappear and the fog makes it hard to keep your bearings. As Dae-jin searches, he often passes the same large tree bound with five-coloured ribbons.

Days later, Seong-suk is found beneath the same tree, barely clinging to life. Dae-jin is horrified, and when Seong-suk doesn’t make it, he blames himself for her death. On the night of his mother’s funeral, the young boy sees the strange light again.

Skipping forward to 2019, Yi-gang and Hyun-jo are still in the cave with the lights hovering beyond the gate. Yi-gang mentions goblin fire myths but is also quick to dismiss them. She can smell dog odour and ammonia – bear scent. She reasons that the lights are their reflective eyes. Even so, they are confused by the bears’ uncharacteristically aggressive behaviour.

The battery on Hyun-jo’s radio is dead and there is no cell reception. They settle in, trapped for now.

Back in 1991, all the villagers apart from Jae-gyeong and his son have forsaken the village. The son tells Dae-jin that both he and his father have been seeing goblin fire.

In 2019, Dae-jin and Woong-soon find the live streamer making a call to Haedong Station about the woman he left stranded on the trail to Black Bridge Valley. Yang-sun, having taken the call, alerts all the rangers on and off duty.

In the cave, Hyun-jo tries to get a closer look at something when he stumbles upon the stranded woman lying further within the cave, unconscious and displaying severe signs of hypothermia. Yi-gang decides that the need to get the woman to a hospital is worth leaving the safety of the cave. Hyun-jo carries the woman on his back, and they make a run for it but end up back in the same place.

Hyun-jo trips as the bears get closer. Gu-yeong and Il-hae appear out of the fog, responding to Yang-sun’s alert. Il-hae hoists the woman onto his back and they hurry back to the cave.

Back in the cave, Gu-yeong loses his temper, annoyed that he’s trapped there when he should have been studying for the upcoming promotion test so that he can impress Yang-sun’s mother. Il-hae becomes equally irritated, revealing that he could suffer paralysis if he keeps climbing the mountain.

The woman’s condition worsens as Dae-jin makes contact through Il-hae’s radio. He instructs Yi-gang on how to navigate Black Bridge Valley, warning her not to confuse animal paths with manmade ones and teaching them how to move efficiently as a group. He stresses the need for trust.

As they descend the mountain, more rangers climb to meet them while Dae-jin waits at the base of the trail. He has a flashback to 1991 when he went to Black Bridge Village and found the young boy crying before Jae-gyeong’s lifeless body hanging from a tree.

On the day of the mountain spirit ritual, the stranded woman they saved prays for Jae-gyeong at a mountain temple.

Soo-jin meets Yi-gang and Hyun-jo at the ritual, informing them that she found one of her tagged bears with its cubs in the Black Bridge Valley area. She is also puzzled by their aggressive behaviour.

All the rangers on and off duty receive an SOS alert after a major rockfall event. Il-hae, who has been trying to placate his worried wife, must cut his conversation short. Gu-yeong, who has been meeting with Yang-sun’s mother, does the same.

Sometime later, Hyun-jo returns to the cave, which has been cleared by a ranger team, and is surprised to find Sol there. Sol reveals that Black Bridge Valley was his hometown, and the cave was his childhood hideaway. He also reveals that the villagers all left because of goblin fire, which always preceded unfortunate events. Hyun-jo suggests that they must have also seen bears, but Sol says there were no bears on the mountain during his childhood.

Sol excuses himself, leaving the cave and putting on a pair of black gloves. Hyun-jo searches for the item that caught his attention while they were trapped when he has another vision. This time he sees a waterfall and a gloved hand pointing.

The Episode Review

Episode 10 throws the 1991 timeline into the mix, giving us another set of deaths to ponder. According to the live streamer, three people died before Black Bridge Village was abandoned. We’ve counted two with the passing of Jae-gyeong and Seong-suk. That leaves us with one death shrouded in mystery and a killer that could be linked to the new round of murders.

Sol, who was the only ranger with any obvious links to the supernatural side of the mountain, now has an added motive. His comments to Hyun-jo hint, not subtly, that he was the young boy from 1991. Considering that Geun-tak was one of the 2020 victims, we could easily be led into Sol’s revenge plot.

Amidst all this chaos, we got a very powerful moment when the rangers had to trust in each other as a team to escape Black Bridge Village. This was made especially poignant by Dae-jin’s narration, baring his absolute trust in them.

The only problem was that the danger that brought them together in 2019 felt too much like the consequence of lazy writing. For instance, why did Hyun-jo and Yi-gang go to Black Bridge Village, intending to investigate a possible threat, with only one working radio? And when that radio fell it landed only a few paces away, so it made no sense to leave it behind when Yi-gang could have swiped it up in the time it took Hyun-jo to convince her not to.

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