‘Black Knight’ Recap & Ending, Explained: How Does K-Drama End? Will Ryu-Seok Be Successful?

Webtoon and OTT platforms have been long-standing partners over the years. The widespread success of dramas like Sweet Home and Nevertheless has brought more viewers to the world of online webcomics that have been transformed into live-action dramas. Netflix brings us yet another one titled Black Knight literally translated from Korean to “Deliveryman”, which is based on a webtoon of the same name, written and illustrated by Lee Yun Kyun. The Manhwa (graphic novel) has also made its way to the Webtoons apps just in time for the series release, so if you’re interested in seeing the action in both forms, visit the Webtoons app and read Black Knight. Now, let’s dive into the series.


Spoilers Ahead 

The Apocalypse And Post-Apocalyptic Korea

It’s the year 2071, and forty years ago, a comet hit Earth, submerging most of the continents under the sea. Only 1% of the world’s population remains, and the Korean Peninsula has tuned into a lifeless desert. The remaining population of South Korea has been strictly divided into three major classes, which get to live in certain areas underground with better air quality the further down you go. An air core converts oxyanium into oxygen, along with other new technology built by the Cheonmyeong group. The social order is divided into three districts: the general district, the special district, and the core district. Everybody who lives within these districts is branded by a QR code, but those who don’t have the code live outside as refugees with no supplies or resources. Some of these refugees chose to become hunters—thieves of the important supplies that the people within the districts would receive, including oxygen and food. On the other hand, some refugees fought for their lives (very Hunger Games-esque) to become the fabled deliverymen who risked their lives to protect the people inside the districts and provide them with the supplies required to survive. 5-8 is a legendary deliveryman amongst the people inside as well as the refugees. He was a refugee himself who became a righteous deliveryman.


Cheonmyeong Group And Ryu-Seok

It is more like the hunters are animals, and the people of the Cheonmyeong group who watch the refugees’ every move are the real hunters. Ryu-Seok is the chairman’s son and has his own plans for the rehabilitation of the population. A new district is being built, labeled District A, and with this, the refugees can be transferred to the general district, but Ryu-Seok plans on eradicating the refugees entirely. All he cares about is the survival of the fittest. Ryu is also unwell, and he is on the hunt for mutant children, all born to miners, with metal for bones, as he thinks their blood will save him from whatever sickness he has. Chairman Ryu is the creator of the Air Core and everything else inside the three districts. He is essentially the savior, but his son has other plans. The Chairman works closely with the President, who trusts him. According to the Chairman, his big problem is “like father, like son,” but what he doesn’t understand is that his son doesn’t have the slightest bit of the goodwill that he himself has. All he wants is power. Additionally, everything in District A is kept under wraps, even by the government and defense, making everything suspicious.

Sa-Wol, The Sisters, And His Reckless Ways

A teenage boy named Sa-Wol lives as a refugee because he was saved by a soldier named Seol-Ah. Although it is a crime to hide refugees, Seol-Ah, who is now a major, helped the young boy and kept him in her own home secretly for 10 years. Now a teenager, Sa-Wol heads out and fights hunters and other refugees to get stronger and become a deliveryman himself. Seol-Ah also has a younger sister who helped bring up Sa-Wol. The three of them live like a real family. Now, Sa-Wol is grounded for heading out because it puts both him and them in danger, and the younger sister Seul-Ah locks him up in the room so he can’t step out even if he wanted to. Seul-Ah receives her delivery from 5-8 and not her usual 5-7 because he has an off day, and she’s overjoyed to meet the legend himself, even taking a picture with him. In another 5 minutes, there’s another person at the door, and the door can be unlocked with just a QR code. Five men enter the room and try to inject Seul-Ah with something, probably to make her unconscious. The ambush takes a turn when they realize there’s another person in the home, and Sa-Wol desperately tries to break open the locked door. The men gun down the door, and Sa-Wol attempts to save Seul-Ah. He takes her to the other side to hide her, and they get shot at. Suddenly, he checks on her, and she has been hit. Sa-Wol is shocked, but before he can think further about it, he’s shot in the head. 5-8 finds his way to the house too late and calls in the incident. He notices Sa-Wol’s fingers moving and picks him up because he’s a refugee and it would be a problem if he were found in the house.


5-8 And His Team Of Refugee Deliverymen

5-8 takes Sa-Wol to his secret meeting space, where he and 11 other refugee deliverymen converge to discuss their plans to figure out a better world for the refugees. Sa-Wol is treated by 4-1. 5-8 and 4-1 attempt to keep Sa-Wol in place, but he needs to find out for himself if Seul-Ah is really dead. 5-8 is shocked by his recovery speed and notices that where Sa-Wol has a cut, there is metal and not bone. Now everything is making sense, including a bullet literally bouncing off his head—Sa-Wol is a mutant. His friends and the grandfather that looks after them all worry for him while he’s under 5-8’s care. Soon he escapes and finds his way to Seol-Ah’s house. They say their goodbyes, and as a warm gesture, she gives him Seul-Ah’s ashes in a necklace so he can wear it at all times. Seol-Ah interrogates 5-8 about the crime scene as he’s the one who reported the situation, and he tells her as much as he can before making it clear that she doesn’t need to suspect him. Sa-Wol goes to fight other strays and gets hit on the head just as his friends arrive to save him. The blow is hard, and he’s in a coma for a few days, making them all worry. In the meantime, 5-7, we find out, is the key to all the kidnappings in the general district and is doing so for human experiments conducted by Ryu-Seok in secret. 5-8 informs “Gramps” about Sa-Wol being a mutant and also that over 100 refugee kids have been taken, and now the abductions are happening in the general district as well. This is proof that somebody (he doesn’t know it’s Ryu-Seok just yet) is on the lookout for the mutant kids. Ryu-Seok, in the meantime, realizes 5-7 is compromised and kills him with a device in the back of his neck, but before he dies, he tells 5-8 that the kidnapped kids are being taken in for human experimentation.

Sa-Wol’s Race To Become Deliveryman 5-7 

Although we were under the impression that Chairman Ryu was a good guy, it turns out he ordered genocide against the refugees when he first created the districts. 5-8 had been the lone survivor back then. Similarly, his son now plans on doing the same so that even within the remaining 1% of the population, only the strongest survive with ease. Now that 5-7 is dead, Cheonmyeong is on the lookout for his replacement. This means Sa-Wol finally has a chance to become a deliveryman. He realizes his best bet would be to train under the legend himself, and he finds his way to 5-8. Considering he’s a mutant and can lead them to the guy who is creating the mess in the first place, 5-8 agrees to train the young boy. The boy is good, but he needs to be great to become a deliveryman. He registers himself and passes the physical exam. He’s labeled “refugee 034” and is sent in for the first step of the 3-step exam, physical fighting in a room full of fellow participants as the oxygen level is lowered. Sa-Wol is successful in his group, and the next round is an auto race, of course, if they want to be deliverymen. In the meantime, Ryu Seok has fabricated his grand plan to kill the refugees by inviting them to watch the final round on a big screen. The second round begins easily enough; they just need to drive in a straight line and make sure the package is delivered safely. Sa-Wol loses his car to the hunters en route, but he manages to join another participant in her car and help her get out of the mud. They’re hit too, and she’s thrown out of the car, but Sa-Wol takes the car back to her so that they can both cross the finish line together. Unfortunately, his package is damaged, and he’s disqualified. But 5-8 had already noticed that the girl had broken her arm and wouldn’t be able to participate in the next round, making Sa-Wol the candidate who qualifies. Also, bringing in a refugee makes the population more excited to watch and put Ryu-Seok’s plan into motion. In the meantime, Ryu is also trying to get residents’ personal information, including their biological data, from Seol-Ah. She refuses to give it to him without following protocol, though, and stalls the procedure. 5-8 get the information that Ryu-Seok is in cahoots with the defense minister, whereas the Chairman is with the President, so it’s ultimately a father vs. son battle. 5-8 and his team are able to grab one of the kidnappers and remove the tracking device in the neck that could kill them with a button. The man is emotionless and doesn’t give any answers. According to 4-1, his amygdala has been removed. The kidnappers all have a specific tattoo of two inverted triangles on their necks, so it was easy to find them. It looks like Ryu-Seok thinks the mutant kids will be able to breathe without oxygen and has been killing many kids in the process of experimenting on them.


The Core District

The core district is like the Capitol in Hunger Games. Everyone is living lavish lives and breathing oxygen in the open 5 kilometers underground. The fight begins, and everyone, including the President, sits and watches the showdown between the two candidates. Is being a deliveryman that important? Anyway, the people gather to watch the match in the refugee areas, and the tattooed men are ready to kill themselves along with thousands of others. The match begins, and it is clear that the other guy is much stronger than Sa-Wol. He’s beating him to the ground, but Sa-Wol stands tall, defending himself only. Fortunately, Sa-Wol’s friends and his grandfather sit at home and watch the show. Before we know it, in the last round, which is the KO round, Sa-Wol is able to knock out his opponent and simultaneously reveal his metallic bones. He had a cut on his forehead, which was covered by 4-1, his mentor, but he removed the bandage when he won the match, showing Ryu-Seok that he’s a mutant and a strong one. Although 5-8 was able to figure out the plan before it took place, the second Sa-Wol won the match, the refugees were bombed by suicide bombers, and he was too late to reach them. Now, Seol-Ah and 5-8 join forces to bring down Cheonmyeong together.

Sa-Wol, The Deliveryman

Because Ryu-Seok and the rest have eyes on them after the bombing of the refugees, he allows Sa-Wol to be a deliveryman for some time. Sa-Wol’s stem cells and blood have been extracted for testing, though. After a great first day, where he drove his friends around and was helped by residents to do his job right, Sa-Wol meets 5-8, who tells him the truth about the deaths of the refugees. 5-8 asks him to join their side to defeat Cheongmyeong. Ryu-Seok’s next plan for eradication is to vaccinate the refugees with poisonous substances. Seol-Ah falls into his trap because she thinks he’s yielded, and so he’s doing tests to move refugees into the general district, but 5-8 knows otherwise. He sets up a pretend rescue team for the tattooed guy, and they come in to get him out. Once he’s out, he immediately calls for an emergency meeting with Ryu-Seok’s assistant. The assistant immediately kills the man, realizing his big mistake in showing up. 5-8, and Seol-Ah torture the assistant to hand over information about Ryu-Seok’s whereabouts and plan a hit against him. On the other side, Sa-Wol’s stem cells bring a man back to life from near death. 5-8 also notice that the conglomerate is faking the level of air pollution and releasing toxins into the air through their trucks.


The Coup 

Seol-Ah visits the Chairman while 5-8 tries to shoot Ryu-Seok. Unfortunately, it’s a miss for him, and 5-8 is compromised. Seol-Ah, in the meantime, explains how she’s discovered Cheonmyeong’s involvement in everything that has been going on, including the refugee bombings and all the kidnappings. She says she plans on investigating it like a soldier but has given him a heads-up (not really sure why). Simultaneously, Ryu-Seok has finally realized his greatest enemies are his own deliverymen. What doesn’t make sense is that Seol-Ah is willing to risk the operation by telling the Chairman, even after knowing that it is the company’s fault that her sister is dead. Just why is she falling into the same trap twice?

Now, we know that Gramps was actually a founding member of Cheonmyeong and had laid most of the foundations of the new world. Because of his differences with the Chairman, specifically the killing of the refugees, he decided to live as one himself. The Chairman’s big plan is to hand over everything to the government and the President, but his son, of course, is not happy with this idea. He fights his father, but the defense minister has no patience, killing the old man mid-conversation. Now, the coup begins, and the defense minister plans on capturing the President. Gramps’ dreams are shattered because his friend has died, and that means the refugees don’t get to move to the general district after all. Ryu-Seok announces that the refugee deliverymen are all terrorists and that all deliveries will be stopped until they are caught. Gramps is able to make the announcement that the physical examination is what is causing the deaths, and “Useless” one of Sa-Wol’s friends rushes to get his other two friends away from the camp. He is killed when Sa-Wol attempts to save him. Finally, it is Seol-Ah who plans on helping 5-8 and his team get inside the Core district to end this all once and for all.


Are 5-8 And Sa-Wol Able To Save The Refugees?

Sa-Wol gets captured and taken in for experimentation by Ryu-Seok. 5-8 and his team break into the core district through the “sky.” In the meantime, Ryu continues his experiment by getting blood from Sa-Wol. Seol-Ah is able to defeat Ryu-Seok’s team and reach the President, putting the defense minister under arrest for treason. It’s not quite clear why the military personnel would go against the coup, but we’ll go with it. Ryu-Seok tries to escape with Sa-Wol, while 5-8’s team frees the kids under experimentation. Now that Ryu has lost everything, he plans on going down winning. He sets off a surge of energy in the air core, meaning an overload of air in the atmosphere, causing an immediate evacuation for the people within the air core. Ryu-Seok destroys the machine, so nobody can stop the Air Core from being destroyed. If he has to lose power, then so must the whole population.

Ryu-Seok is stuck on the fact that the refugees are undeserving of anything important, so he’d rather kill himself than let them have it all. Sa-Wol uses the little energy he has to distract Ryu-Seok who is pointing his gun at 5-8. 5-8 too has his gun pointed at Ryu-Seok and takes the opportunity created by Sa-Wol to shoot him. Now 5-8 shoot Ryu-Seok, but it’s already too late to save the Air Core. We see Ryu’s fingers twitch before the entire system explodes and burns everything down as people evacuate the place like zombies running about. 5-8 is able to save Sa-Wol, and the President finally announces the completion of District A and the relocation of the refugees. Now, there will be no class divide between the residents of the country, and everyone will get an oxygen supply. We still don’t know what lies behind the gates of District A, though.


Sa-Wol finally wakes up and lives in a home like before, getting a delivery from 5-8. Gramps still lives a free life in his old space. Black Knight ends with Sa-Wol and 5-8 heading out and noticing cleaner air and clearer skies. It looks like “Black Knight” has been set up for a second season with a lot of unanswered questions. Firstly, our main focus is on why 5-8 is so strong and legendary. Is it possible that he too has some sort of mutation that made him survive those gunshots all those years ago? Or is he just strong? If the mutation allows the kids to breathe without oxygen, who is going to experiment on their cells now that Ryu-Seok has destroyed everything related to them? We think there might not be a big difference between District-A and Core District because it might have just been Cheongmyeong’s way of reaching higher power.

Final Thoughts

5-8 is the saving grace of Black Knight, and it’s a shame we never learn his name because that could’ve at least added an emotional connection with the character. The narrative is very confusing and too fast-paced to even set the tone for what’s about to happen. There’s too much ambiguity about why things are happening, and although the dystopian premise is great, it doesn’t pull through. Still, if you’re a fan of Kim Woo-Bin and Esom, it’s worth a watch for them alone. Hopefully, a second season can give us more closure and answers regarding the mutants and more facts about Gramps and Cheongmyeong.


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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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