Youth Of May Ending Explained – Do Myung-Hee and Hee-Tae survive?

Youth of May Plot Synopsis

Youth of May is a well written romantic drama set during the middle of the 1980’s during the Gwangju uprising. A romance blossoms between Hee-Tae and Myung-Hee but their love is pushed to the limits as a much larger threat sees the future of Korea hang in the balance.

Alongside Hee-Tae and Myung-Hee are Soo-Chan and Soo-Ryeon who become romantically involved with Hee-Tae and Myung-Hee, respectively. Split across 12 episodes, this tale of love, betrayal and heartbreak is a real rollercoaster ride of emotion.

Who is the man at the train station?

During the very first episode we see a man wearing a hat standing at the train station. As news breaks about the Uprising, he begins sobbing while holding a locket in his hand. During the finale we learn that this man is Kim Kyung-Soo, the soldier who let Myung-Soo go in the woods. He was part of the squad responsible for killing Myung-Hee while she tried to protect her brother.

Kyung-Soo has been wracked with guilt since then, holding onto the watch locket as memorabilia to remind him of what happened that fateful night. During the end of the last episode he hands over the locket to Hee-Tae as he struggles to hold back tears.

Does Myung-Hee die?

She does, unfortunately. One of the tragic victims of the Uprising is Myung-Hee, who dies protecting her brother from a fatal bullet. Her selfless act serves as one final act of bravery from a woman who has done everything to protect others throughout the season. Her tragic death serves as a reminder of the needless loss of life during these uprising.

What happens to Myung-Soo and the others in the future?

During the flash-forward sequences we catch glimpses of some characters but not everyone. Myung-Soo is now working as a priest, having seemingly found solace in God after the death of his sister and father. There’s no word of where Jung-Tae and Ki-Nam are though, although it’s safe to assume that he and Hae-Ryung did get divorced.

Soo-Ryeon meanwhile, is now working as a lawyer while Hee-Tae is at the university as a professor.

How does Youth of May end?

As mentioned above, Myung-Hee is shot out in the woods while Hee-Tae survives courtesy of a soldier claiming to know who he is. He manages to get away, as does Myung-Soo.

During the flash forward sequences, Hee-Tae is handed the locket and a letter that Kyung-Soo has kept on him all this time. Within the letter it asks Hee-Tae to have strength and swim through life with clarity. It’s been 41 years since Hee-Tae has lost Myung-Hee and the pain is still as raw now as it was way back then. Hee-Tae narrates the final scenes, telling us that he’s doing his best to live. As he walks from the graveyard, we fade to black.

What is the Gwangju Uprising?

For those unaware, the Gwanju Uprising marks a pivotal moment in South Korean history. Between May 18th and May 27th in 1980, it’s estimated that around 600 people lost their lives. During this period of time, Gwangju citizens took up arms after the shock of seeing local Cjhonnam University students fired upon, beaten and killed by Government troops.

If you’re interested in finding out more, there’s a great article detailing everything in meticulous detail. You can find that by clicking here



Read More: Youth Of May Season 1 Review

Thanks for reading our Ending Explained article! What did you think of Youth of May’s ending? Did you cry too during the emotional moments involving Myung-Hee’s death? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Youth Of May Ending Explained – Do Myung-Hee and Hee-Tae survive?”

  1. I’m curious who is the man that first received the info that the body of Myung Hee has been found while on a consultation session. Is it Hee Tae’s brother, Jung Tae?

  2. Mike, I’m sorry if our tragic history ins’t to your taste, but many people in Gwangju have at least one or two relative/friends who died, injured, or went “missing” from the May of 1980. There is building still standing with bullet marks, and even in 2019, 40 bodies excavated from construction site.

    Characters may been fictional, but the story itself is very real.
    It is so painful, that many Korean want to avoid 5.18 all together, but I am grateful that someone brings it up every so often and remind us the freedom we enjoy is built on the blood, and sacrifice of forgotten ones.

  3. Sorry Mike but life’s just not like that! The happy happy ending you wanted! During war and conflict people die go missing and the survivors live on in the wreckage of their lives! Look at the world now! It’s still happening to our shame.
    This drama if you could stomach the violence had it all. A serious piece of work from all concerned. Korean drama gets better every year. Power to all.

  4. But Kyung Soo wasnt holding a locket at the train station tho. He gave the locket to Myung Hee while she was dying way back 1980 and it was found with her remains at the site in 2021. Lol

  5. I disagree, Mike.
    The drama is set in one of the most painful chapter in recent South Korean history.
    The director said that the drama reflected the emotions and choices of people living through that time.
    I am sure many people in South Korea would be able to identify with the emotions conveyed by the drama – whether you like it or not.
    The mindset when watching this drama would be to share what the South Koreans had to go through, and not hoping for a happy romance. Having a happy ending with everyone surviving the events unscathed would be contrary to the narrative of the whole story.

  6. I didn’t like the ending at all. The Gwangju uprising was a true story tragedy but Myunghee and Heetae was a fictional love story. Read my comment on AsiaWiki. There were many heartfelt, emotional, tear-jerker scenes, you did not need to add the Myunghee death for another heartbreaking scene. Your explanation above does not convince me that her death should be written. On the contrary, it could’ve easily been written with the two survived and we see them in present day alive and happy together and I guarantee that your movie would’ve had much higher popular ratings, higher “favorite K-drama” lists.

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