The Killing Vote – K-Drama Episode 12 Recap, Review & Ending Explained

The Final Vote

The Killing Vote Episode 12 begins with a flashback to ten years ago. Hyun and her sister are at their parents’ funeral when a woman turns up. She’s the driver who killed Hyun’s parents in a car accident. She claims to have been overworked and tired but Hyun accuses her of drunk driving.

One day, Hyun speaks with a police officer and shows him proof of the woman running from the site of the accident. She tells him that the woman checked if her parents were dead before escaping and Hyun could smell alcohol on her. When she leaves, she passes by Mu-chan who has just got his redeployment notice.

Later, Min watches the woman who killed her parents living a happy and carefree life. She tells Hyun she wants to take revenge but Hyun tells her that living a happy life is the best revenge.

At present, Mu-chan is running towards the apartment where Seok-joo is holed up. He gets a call from his boss who tells him to kill Seok-joo. Mu-chan asks if this order is legitimate or comes from the influence of Min Ji-young. His silence tells Mu-chan everything he needs to know. On a loudspeaker, Mu-chan tells Seok-joo that he is approaching the house and wants to negotiate.

Meanwhile, a group of bullies from Min’s school see the bounty on Ji-hoon’s head and begin to look for him. At the same time, the Killing Vote continues but a lot of people abstain from voting now that they know why Seok-joo did what he did. Ultimately, most people abstain from the vote and it gets cancelled.

Inside, Seok-joo tells Chul-min to stick to the plan. Chul-min tells Seok-joo to hand over the Killing Vote program. Ji-hoon and Min are ecstatic about the vote result but Ji-hoon insists on going to look for his father anyway. He then gets a call from his grandmother, Yang Hye-jin.

She tells him to give himself up since Hyun has promised to protect him and Mu-chan is on his way to save Seok-joo. Ji-hoon agrees to go meet Hyun. As luck would have it, the group of bullies turns up at that very moment.

Seok-joo then calls Mu-chan and hints that he’s going to end his life anyway. Mu-chan tries to convince him not to but Seok-joo cuts the call and puts the noose around his neck. Mu-chan arrives just after Seok-joo hangs himself and holds him up, calling for help. Meanwhile, Chul-min gets into a car and drives away. Elsewhere, Hyun and Jo-dan keep searching for Ji-hoon and Min.

At Ji-young’s house, Yoon-ji and her team forcefully enter after seeing footage of Do-hee getting kidnapped. But they find Do-hee calmly having tea with Ji-young with no hint of kidnapping in sight. Do-hee pretends everything is fine and leaves.

Ji-hoon is getting beat up by the group of bullies. One of them begins to hit him with a metal pipe. Hyun and Jo-dan find the place and enter. Hyun draws her gun but the boy hits Ji-hoon right in the head. As they rush to him, the boys run away. While Ji-hoon is bleeding out, he gives Hyun a flash drive.

Sang-jae arrives to help Mu-chan and the latter uses CPR to revive Seok-joo. He sighs with relief when Seok-joo begins to breathe again. But in Hyun’s arms, Ji-hoon stops responding. From a security camera, Chul-min sees that Seok-joo survived and hits his steering wheel in anger.

Sang-jae gives Mu-chan the shocking news that Ji-hoon is dead. Hyun arrives and hits Seok-joo, saying it’s his fault. For a minute, Seok-joo is in denial but the truth soon sets in and he sinks to his knees.

On the way to the police station, Seok-joo tells Mu-chan he wants to stop by the seashore and say goodbye to Na-rae. Jo-dan and Min are at the morgue but the latter hasn’t said or done anything for hours. Hyun calls Jo-dan to check on her.

Mu-chan lets Seok-joo stop by the sea. Seok-joo admits he just wanted to show people how strict punishment could be comforting to the victims of such crimes. Mu-chan also apologises for fabricating evidence all those years ago. Suddenly, a car bursts in and Chul-min grabs Hyun, holding her at gunpoint. Chul-min demands that Mu-chan let him and Seok-joo leave or he will kill Hyun. Mu-chan drops his gun and moves away.

Seok-joo reveals that Chul-min wants him dead, not alive. Seok-joo then offers Chul-min a flash drive, so Chul-min can change the world the way he sees fit. Seeing that he’s distracted, Hyun pushes Chul-min’s hand and he drops the gun. Instead, he runs towards Seok-joo to grab the flash drive and in the chaos they both fall into the water. Mu-chan jumps in after them.

Sometime later, a press conference is held where the police claim the case is closed due to the deaths of the main suspects. Seok-joo is blamed for misleading Ji-hoon and causing his death. Do-hee is there but isn’t covering the news. Hyun accuses her of blowing up the case the most. They exchange words and Hyun leaves.

While looking through the case files, Mu-chan notices something in the video of Na-rae’s murder. Min Ji-young and her secretary arrive home to find Mu-chan and his team breaking the floor of the room in the basement. Mu-chan says he missed something last time. He breaks the column in the room to find another column hidden inside it. He uses a UV light to reveal bloodstains on it.

In flashbacks, we see Ji-young watch from a window as Min-soo and Woo-taek carry Na-rae’s body. She goes to the basement and sees the blood all over the column. At present, Mu-chan arrests Ji-young now that there is finally enough evidence.

Hyun stands by the seashore and throws the flash drive Ji-hoon gave her into the sea. Mu-chan says that was the passcode to the Killing Vote and asks her if she’s sure. She says she is since that’s what killed Ji-hoon. She laments about Seok-joo becoming a murderer who killed his own son in the public eye.

Hyun claims Mu-chan knew this would happen. He says he had to compromise with the higher-ups and make Seok-joo look like a criminal in order to arrest Ji-young without a warrant. Hyun tells him that he still doesn’t understand what Seok-joo really wanted. So, she denies his offer to join his team and decides to go back to HQ instead.

One year later, Hyun seems to be doing well as the ace of her team. While giving a talk at a university on cybersecurity, somebody asks Hyun a question about Gaetal but she doesn’t comment on it. At the university, she spots a photo of Jo-dan winning second place in a coding competition. The first place is empty.  

We then find out that Yoon-ji and Jo-dan are dating! They come to a restaurant, where Jin-soo is working, to ask for his blessing since he is like Yoon-ji’s family. Jin-soo challenges Jo-dan to eat extra spicy food in order to do so. Hyun arrives and eats the food on his behalf. Jin-soo, of course, gives them his hearty approval. Suddenly they all get a text message but it only turns out to be a notification of a sale at a department store.

Afterwards, Hyun shows Jo-dan the photo of him that she found. She asks about the person who won the first place and Jo-dan says the person was anonymous. His hacker name was LRAE. Hyun remembers that the very first Gaetal video file she found had been named LRAE (for Na-rae). She realises that it was Ji-hoon.

Meanwhile, Min has a drink while sitting on a swing. She gets a text message from Ji-hoon which he had programmed to be sent earlier. He admits she was a bright spot in his life. He apologises and thanks her for everything.

Hyun still keeps track of people who were found at sea, just in case Seok-joo is still alive. Mu-chan meets with Jin-soo at the restaurant he’s working at. They discuss how Min Ji-young was let go after her secretary took the fall for her. But Jin-soo still believes in Mu-chan’s ability to change things.

Ji-young is helping out at a volunteer event organized by a politician named Kang Ji-seok. He turns out to have been Seok-joo’s public defender at the time of the case and Ji-young speaks to him, making it out as if she’s repenting for what happened. Later, she waits by a bus stop and gets into her car when it rolls up.

Inside, is a small box with a flash drive. The driver gives her a tab where she sees photos of her secretary — who seemingly killed herself while in prison. The driver then shows her that he’s working on the Killing Vote program. They plan to target Kang Ji-seok first.

Hyun visits Hye-jin in prison. Hyun wonders if Seok-joo is still alive and Hye-jin says, no matter what, someone will always be there to step up the way Seok-joo did.

Dong-gyu is now working as a criminal consultant of sorts. Mu-chan is following him when a person on a bike turns up and gives him an envelope. Inside is a flash drive. He goes to the cybercrime center and meets Hyun. They catch up and he asks her if she’s heard anything about a petition Seok-joo filed for Ji-hoon. She says no. She asks him if he thinks Seok-joo is alive. Mu-chan says he hopes not as he wants Seok-joo to finally be able to rest.

At home, Hyun takes out an envelope and reads the letter inside. It’s from Seok-joo, who wrote it before he tried to end his life. In it, he admits to coercing Ji-hoon and asks the courts to be lenient on him.

Mu-chan catches up to Dong-gyu and reprimands him for helping criminals. Around the same time, Hyun comes across a news report about a fishing boat picking up an unidentified man. She gets the report from an email ID named watchdog06. Mu-chan picks up a Gaetal mask as he walks out to the main street.

We then see a hand underwater, grabbing the flash drive that Hyun threw inside at the end of The Killing Vote Episode 12.

The Episode Review

The Killing Vote Episode 12 closes with a tragic ending that throws a softer punch than would be expected. Ji-hoon’s death is incredibly sad, particularly since Seok-joo has now lost his only other child in the process of avenging the first. While I understand the writing choice, it does make all their efforts feel a little futile.

The rest of the ending is fairly open — Seok-joo is missing, Ji-young is continuing her notorious activities and somebody has taken up Gaetal’s mantle again. However, the open-ended finale is not very compelling. A little more certainty on the part of the story or even the characters would have made more impact.

Unfortunately, the finale still leaves quite a few loose threads that stand out irrespective of the open ending. Like Do-hee, for example, whose character didn’t have much significance despite the amount of screen time she got. What was the point of Ji-young kidnapping her in the first place?

We don’t get much of an explainer about Chul-min either. How did he grow so devoted to Gaetal’s cause and why did he want Seok-joo dead so badly? Regarding Min Ji-young, it makes sense that she’s still out and about, ready to cause trouble. But has she moved on from her son’s death so quickly?

The most glaring flaw is that the series doesn’t seem to complete its debate on whether vigilantism like this is the right way to go or not. Mu-chan, Hyun and Seok-joo do have a few arguments about it but it does not lead anywhere conclusive.

While I wouldn’t expect a fixed solution in the end, I did expect the characters to develop and change their worldviews due to the moral debate, particularly Mu-chan. But no such development shows and neither of the characters changes much. In the end, the plot takes precedence over all.  

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Read our season 1 review of The Killing Vote here!

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