‘Death’s Game’ Part 1 Recap & Spoilers: How Many Deaths Has Yee-Jae Suffered?

The Prime Original series Death’s Game is the latest in Korea’s long list of thriller shows to grace our screens this year. The show starring, Seo In-Guk and Park So-Dam in leading roles, has garnered tremendous attention because of its ensemble cast of the most popular actors today. The eight-episode series has been split into two parts, one released on December 15, 2023, and the second to be released on January 5, 2024 (something to look forward to in the new year!). “The most tormenting death for a mortal is one that is anticipated.” A morbid statement to begin a series that is about a man who tries to end his life. 


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In The Show?

Death’s Game begins with Yee-Jae, a young man whose life changes drastically when he watches a man get hit by a car and tries desperately to check on him. This is seven years before he stands at the edge of a rooftop, ready to end his life. On the day of the accident, Yee-Jae was meant to be interviewing for a job at Taekang Corporation (you know, the Samsung equivalent). He fails his interview because he’s traumatized by that man’s awful death, of course. Suddenly, seven years have passed, and after all the hard work and working dozens of part-time jobs, Yee-Jae fails the final interview yet again. To add to the trouble, he gets thrown out of his rental and loses all his money on an investment that was a scam. This leaves him completely devastated, and he decides to take his own life. He breaks up with his girlfriend of several years, Ji-Su, and leaves a letter for his mother that states that he isn’t afraid of death and that it’s simply a way to end all his pain (big mistake, buddy).


What Is Death’s Game?

Death is irked by Yee-Jae’s casual take on death. She decides to punish him before he’s sent to hell. He thinks his life has been hell on earth, so why not show him how much worse it can get? Death gives Yee-Jae 12 lives to reincarnate as. Each body he’s going to be reborn into is facing impending death; if he manages to avoid it, then he can live on in that body for the rest of his life. There are some rules, though: Yee-Jae can’t try to kill himself or anybody else or Death will interfere. 

What Does Death Want Yee-Jae To Learn?

There is a life lesson buried somewhere in these games, as there always is. Of course, the first thing is not to take death lightly and never consider it the end of suffering. Other than the obvious “you will go to hell” if you do so, the suffering always begins at death for those left behind. Mostly, the first four episodes of Death’s Game focus on this particular aspect of one taking their own life. Yee-Jae is ashamed to go see his mother, and throughout the first four episodes, we see two corpses with a photo of Yee-Jae next to them. We are made to believe that one may be Yee-Jae’s mother because, as Yee-Jae jumps off the building, the camera zooms in on his phone, which shows his mother calling him. It takes six lives for Yee-Jae to even think about the two women he left behind—his mother and girlfriend. In the 7th life, his eyes are finally opened, and he decides to help his mother with some money. He also gets to spend some time with Ji-Su, but we’ll get to that in a bit. Death is only trying to open Yee-Jae’s eyes to how selfish he truly is by taking his own life. He keeps talking about how he hasn’t done anything wrong or hurt anybody else, but that’s the most incredibly naive belief at least according to Death.


I suppose the cryptic message of the show is that, as much as you’re suffering, you’ve got to keep at it. You could say Death is trying to get Yee-Jae to realize how desperate people are to keep living. For example, death puts Yee-Jae in the body of a defenseless baby. The baby has no way to fight for itself as it suffers at the hands of its parents. Yee-Jae wants to fight for this baby, but how is it any different from his old suffering?

What’s Happening At Taekang Group?

A lot of the people Yee-Jae embodies are connected to the Taekang Group in some way or another. The first person that Yee-Jae is reborn as is the snobby second son of the Taekang group, Park Jin-Tae. Jin-Tae’s life is spent fighting his older brother for the company (I suppose all life’s a competition). There’s no room to save Jin-Tae’s life because he’s on a flight that is doomed to crash. It’s also the first time, so Yee-Jae isn’t equipped with the right mindset to figure things out in time. The more important thing here is to focus on Jin-Tae’s brother, Tae-U. The man keeps appearing throughout the show as a fantastic boss who everyone worships. The opposite of his more eccentric younger brother. It’s later revealed that he had his brother killed because Jin-Tae was chosen as the CEO of the company (hard burn).


What’s Yee-Jae’s Revenge Story?

At the end of episode 4 of Death’s Game, Yee-Jae is in the body of a handsome young model who befriends Ji-Su, who conveniently visits the cafe he works at on a daily basis. Ji-Su is now an author, and Gun-U (the model) pretends he wants to write a story too, telling Ji-Su all of Death’s Game. She gets along just fine with him and finds him interesting because of the way he makes the story sound like an autobiography (obviously, it is one). In this body, Yee-Jae leaves some money for his mother after meeting her (finally feeling awful about what he’s done). Gun-U is introduced to Tae-U as a model, so he can be the next big face of the Taekang group, but he’s quite drunk at the time. It seems like this may have made Tae-U angry because, at the end of episode four, he kills Gun-U and Ji-Su with his car. At this time, Gun-U is telling Ji-Su that he’s actually Yee-Jae after apologizing for hurting her feelings. Ji-Su dies immediately, but Gun-U survives for a bit, so Tae-U kills the man with his gloved hands.

This is when Tae-U’s true colors are revealed, although throughout the show he seemed like a shady character. That, and of course, he had his brother killed, so he’s pure evil. Death’s warned Yee-Jae not to kill anybody, but how else is he going to take revenge on Tae-U? Until now, Yee-Jae’s efforts to stay alive have been futile, but now he’s got Ji-Su to think about. At the end of the episode, Yee-Jae is so frustrated that the love of his life is dead because of him that he decides to shoot Death herself. Death has 12 bullets for Yee-Jae that bring him back to life each time in a different body. Now, he’s gone and shot her with one of those bullets. Death can’t die, but can she reincarnate in a human body? We don’t really think so. This is probably just a way for us to come back to the show after the long break. Or maybe death too has some lessons to learn. Either way, we’re going to have to wait a couple of weeks for answers. Until then, one thing is clear: this battle is now between Yee-Jae and Tae-U.


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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