Jirisan Finale: Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The Mountain’s Will 

 Did Jae-gyeong really sign the agreement form?

Jirisan’s finale drops us back in 1991. Il-man and his supporters continue to harass Jae-gyeong to sign the agreement form. Jae-gyeong, unravelling under the weight of his wife’s death, still refuses.

Il-man exterminates Jae-gyeong’s bee colonies and Jae-gyeong snaps. He hallucinates the buzz of bees and clutches handfuls of their dead bodies, saying they’ve come back to life.

Sol, terrified, uses Jae-gyeong’s seal to sign the agreement form. He runs over to Il-man’s house and is about to knock on the door when he overhears Il-man’s faction discussing every one of their horrific deeds. Il-man opens the door and takes the agreement form.

With all the agreement forms collected, Il-man meets Geun-tak, who tells him that the project was blocked anyway. The villagers leave Black Bridge Village while the national park is still offering incentives.

Why did Yi-gang go to Sol’s house and how did she escape?

In 2020, Sol’s innocent charade is now full of arrogance. Yi-gang informs him that she’ll take her theories to the police the very next day. Sol only refrains from killing her because of the CCTV in his residential area and the fact that Yi-gang’s phone can be traced. Gu-yeong calls Sol, asking about Yi-gang and putting her in the clear for now.

Gu-yeong picks Yi-gang up and they meet up with Il-hae. We find out that Yi-gang put a GPS device in Sol’s backpack. She believes Sol will try to dispose of the evidence after hearing that she’s going to the police. The plan is to follow him right to it.

Sol does indeed hike up the mountain to his stash with Gu-yeong and Il-hae not far behind. Sol realizes he is being tailed and removes the GPS, disappearing into the heavy fog.

Does Dae-jin stay behind bars?

Dae-jin is released from detention for his cooperation with the police. He goes to Haedong Station where Yi-gang breaks the news that Sol is the culprit. Dae-jin radios a false SOS out to every ranger on the mountain, sending them to Deokseoryeong to find Sol.

Was Sol’s motivation simply revenge?

Hyun-jo, having realised Sol is the real culprit, discovers the cave where Sol stashed the evidence. Sol, able to see Hyun-jo, is also there. Sol confesses to killing the villagers because they didn’t remember the events of 1991.

We flash back to 2017. Sol, struggling with his trauma and hallucinating the buzz of bees like his father did, returns to the mountain to commit suicide using poisoned yogurt. Hyun-su stumbles upon him, asking for directions. When Hyun-su recognizes Sol, he’s excited to see him and asks after Jae-gyeong. The question upsets Sol and causes him to hear the bees again. He gives Hyun-su the poisoned yogurt and sends him on his way.

With Hyun-su’s death ruled as an accident, Sol convinces himself that the mountain is on his side. He takes up a ranger position and recruits Se-wook to his sinister cause.

In the present, Sol tells Hyun-jo that, as they picked off the villagers, he stopped hearing the bees. Sol also expresses his anger at Woong-soon for being oblivious to Seong-guk’s crime. When Woong-soon’s investigation of the bus incident led him to Sol, Sol used the truth of the hit-and-run to keep him quiet.

Hyun-jo disputes Sol’s claims that the mountain willed the deaths, using his visions as proof that the opposite is true. Hyun-jo also realizes that his first vision of Sangsuri Rock – where the young boy went missing – was the mountain’s way of leading him to the rock formations and to Sol.

What happens to the evidence?

Sol drops Se-wook’s notebook with the list of victims onto the pile of evidence. A bee sticker identical to the one on the phone Hyun-jo found is on its cover. Sol sets it alight along with the rest of the evidence.

Gu-yeong and Il-hae hike toward the smoke rising from Sol’s fire but find no useable evidence left.

Why does the bee sticker phone matter?

Yi-gang flies a drone to the cave, and it captures Hyun-jo walking towards Sangsuri Rock where they first saw the rock formation.

With all the other rangers in Deokseoryeong – two hours from Sangsuri Rock – Yi-gang and Dae-jin make part of the journey there in a helicopter. Dae-jin carries Yi-gang the rest of the way until she spots Hyun-jo making his last rock formation. He disappears shortly after. At the same time in the hospital, his life support is turned off.

His signal points to the police station. Yi-gang thinks back to the bee sticker phone she saw there and then to the townhall meeting where she noticed the scars on Se-wook’s hand, which rested next to his phone – the bee sticker phone.

Gu-yeong and Il-hae go the station and petition the police to begin a forensic examination of the phone. The results come back that night and yield extensive conversation transcripts of Sol and Se-wook carrying out the murders.

Is Sol caught by the police?

The police track Sol’s car to the base of the mountain and ask Dae-jin for the rangers’ cooperation in finding him.

Yi-gang is left alone at Haedong Station when the lights switch off around her. Sol rushes up behind her and knocks her out with his torch.

Yi-gang regains consciousness in Sol’s moving car. When she does, he starts ranting about how his streak of murders were the will of the mountain. Sol also reveals that he killed her grandma, and she gets desperate enough to throw herself out of the car, landing next to a stretch of roadworks.

Sol stops his car and grabs a mallet, advancing on Yi-gang. When he stands above her, she swings a rock at his face and knocks him down. She tells him that the mountain is just a mountain. Sol gets back up to finish the job as a landslide tumbles down and kills him. His death explains why he could see Hyun-jo in the cave.

What becomes of the rangers?

One year later, Gu-yeong continues to remember Yang-sun after passing the promotion test. Il-hae has taken over Dae-jin’s role as commander.

Yi-gang conducts the interview for Haedong Station’s new recruit. The candidate is the lottery ticket girl, who wants to repay her debt to Yang-sun by becoming a ranger. Yi-gang addresses the girl’s lingering fear of the mountain, repeating the sentiment that the mountain is just a mountain.

In the early morning hours of New Year’s Day, Il-hae and Gu-yeong prepare to hike to the mountain’s peak. Yi-gang, now able to walk again, joins them. At the peak, Dae-jin and his daughter are amid the crowd gathered to watch the first sunrise of 2022.

Did Hyun-jo really die this time?

Among the rangers there to control the crowd is… Hyun-jo. We briefly flash back to Yi-gang receiving the news that he’s breathing again. An overlaid snippet of a past conversation between our leads reveals that he has also stopped having visions.

All is finally well on Mount Jiri.

The Episode Review

Our time on Mount Jiri ends on a… strange note. The murder-mystery has run its course and is now wrapped up with Sol’s death and the evidence coming to light. The journey this episode took to reach this point was a touch ridiculous, but with interest waning in the last quarter, that quality kept it more engaging than the actual path to resolution did.

Jirisan’s refusal to accept or reject its fantasy tag made the message pushed in our faces more than a little confusing. The mountain is just a mountain – it’s nothing to fear. And yet, Sol did have something to fear from the mountain determined enough to take him out that it gave Hyun-jo visions and crushed Sol in a landslide that very conveniently missed Yi-gang (who was only a metre or two away).

Where the drama did acknowledge its own fantasy elements, an inconsistency reared its head. Namely, Yi-gang could see Hyun-jo so she should have died. You could try to make the argument that her future was changed with Sol’s death but that doesn’t add up with the rule the drama set up for itself: the future is inevitable. Each time Hyun-jo has tried to change the future using his visions he has failed, and the visions proved to be the “re-written” future all along. By this logic, the future is set in stone and Yi-gang should have died.

These contradictions came partly from a last-minute rush to wrap everything up with a pretty bow – another bizarre experience. While we rushed through Sol’s demise with some divine mountain power, we got a dragging sequence of Gu-yeong honoring Yang-sun’s memory.

Not only that, but without any explanation, Yi-gang can walk again. This also felt like a blow to the disability representation that her character provided. We’re left, instead, with the textbook archaic message that you can’t stay disabled and have a happy ending.

Hyun-jo rises from the dead yet again with some cheesy slow motion to boot. His death has been given the clickbait treatment one too many times but at least he gets to be happy now. In fact, complaints aside, at least all the rangers left get to be happy now. After everything, they deserve it.

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1 thought on “Jirisan Finale: Recap, Review & Ending Explained”

  1. I watched the series for beautiful shots of mountains and a glimpse into work of rangers there. The plot was somehow so absurd and uninteresting that I didn’t pay much attention to it. Yet the last episode disappointed me, Yi-gang miraculously walking all of the sudden and then meeting Hyun-jo on the top of a mountain. I rolled my eyes so hard that I still can’t think about this drama without scoffing.

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