‘Death’s Game’ Part 2 Ending Explained & K-drama Recap: Does Yee-Jae Defeat Death?

Death’s Game was one of 2023’s most highly anticipated K-dramas in the last quarter because of the sheer number of actors in it. In the first part, we meet a man named Yee-Jae (Seo In-Guk), whose life hasn’t gone as he planned, making him want to give up. Yee-Jae decides to commit suicide; however, he finds Death herself knocking at his door when he jumps off a building. Death tells Yee-Jae that she will punish him for looking for her before she came for him. He’s already set to go to hell, but now he gets 12 chances at life again, and he must try to avoid imminent death and live on in those bodies as long as he can while abiding by some rules. In the first part Death’s Game Season 1, Yee-Jae has already lost seven chances to live. What will he do next, and how will he take revenge on Park Tae-U of Taekang Group?

Spoilers Ahead


What Happens In Part 2?

At first, it seems like Death’s Game Part 2 is all about Yee-Jae’s revenge. The love of his life, Ji-Su, is killed off by Tae-U in his last life, leaving him absolutely devastated as he bore witness to her death. Now, he learns that this was Ji-Su’s destiny all along: to die at the hands of Tae-U. Throughout the series, there’s been some sort of connection between Yee-Jae and Tae-U. From his original life, wanting to work for Taekang Group, to every single life he’s lived thus far (except the baby), they’re all somehow connected to Tae-U. At the end of Part 1, Yee-Jae tried to shoot Death in the head so she could go through his experiences. Foolish thing to do really, because everyone knows Death can’t die. I’d have assumed he’d lose a life for that, but shame, she puts the bullet in his head again. Yee-Jae wakes up in the body of an artist, a serial killer, who uses his victims’ blood to make his paintings (he has seen it all at this point). Yee-Jae learns that Tae-U wants to buy one of Kyu-Cheol’s paintings. He uses that as an excuse to speak to him in person and get his address, claiming he’ll deliver the painting himself.

In the meantime, Tae-U is getting more frustrated by the day because his father thinks he’s a psychopath and can’t stop talking about his younger brother (the one he killed, you know?). He’s been taking drugs to deal with his “struggles” and gets a speeding ticket from a diligent detective. Kyu-Cheol has only a month to live because he has a brain tumor. So, Yee-Jae decides to live life on the edge, going up to Tae-U’s house and provoking him into a fight. Kyu-Cheol kidnaps Tae-U and tells him about the 15 people he’s killed before. In Kyu-Cheol’s studio, Kyu-Cheol faints, allowing Tae-U to strap him to the table that he himself was meant to be on. Tae-U admits that his first kill was an accident, but the way the dying man looked at him as if he were God, asking him to save him, left Tae-U wanting more (a trash man).

Yee-Jae’s plan all along was to get himself killed in Kyu-Cheol’s body, because Kyu-Cheol used to record his killings through CCTV cameras, giving him evidence of Tae-U’s beautiful work. Yee-Jae knew Tae-U would get excited to hear about someone like himself and spill his story before killing the man. Now, Yee-Jae is overjoyed to live again, driven by revenge. 


What Does Yee-Jae Achieve In Ji-Hyeong’s Life?

Yee-Jae comes back as a detective named An Ji-Hyeong. His partner was the guy who gave Tae-U a speeding ticket and got beaten up for it. Ji-Hyeong never did anything because he had made a promise to his mother to keep himself safe after his father died in the field. Now his mom is dead and Yee-Jae is in his body, so he can basically do anything he likes to catch Tae-U. Ji-Hyeong immediately heads to Kyu-Cheol’s studio to collect the evidence. Kyu-Cheol himself is a criminal, so that’s already a gold star on his badge. However, he decides to take the Tae-U footage to the press.

In the meantime, Yee-Jae’s mother visits the station because of the bag of money he dropped off for her. She calls it a punishment for not looking after her son, leaving Yee-Jae heartbroken. On the other hand, Tae-U tries to have him killed, but he escapes and tells him to come to the station. Tae-U really believes he’s God, though. He has all of Korea wrapped around his bloody finger, including the police commissioner and the press. At first, it appears as if Tae-U is winning; he gets public sympathy for killing Kyu-Cheol, who was a serial killer, claiming it was self-defense (sure dude). However, when he’s in his private jet, flying off to the US, with the expectation that Ji-Hyeong, this rebellious detective who’s after his life, will be dying somewhere in a ditch, the plane faces turbulence. There’s an anonymous announcement that narrates the names of the many people that Tae-U has killed. It’s then revealed that the plane will explode in the same way that Tae-U’s brother’s private jet did within 30 seconds, but Tae-U has the chance to jump off with a parachute. Yee-Jae has used the memories of all his previous bodies to set this plan in motion to make sure that Tae-U experiences hell on earth.

Evidence of Tae-U killing his brother is revealed on the news as he jumps off the plane. When he lands on the ground, he’s hit by a car driven by Ji-Hyeong himself. Yee-Jae forgets the rules at this point and decides to kill the man anyway, even summoning Death in the process. However, at the last moment, Ji-Su’s pen falls out of his coat, making him think of her wish for his story to have a happy ending. Ultimately, he spares Tae-U’s life, but the guy gets hit by a truck or something. Ironically, the accident has left him with both legs amputated (what he did to Kyu-Cheol) and in a half-vegetative state (whoops).

Now Yee-Jae has no driving force to meet Death, or technically live on, but he does, as Ji-Hyeong, for long enough to start believing he is him. Ji-Hyeong becomes close to his partner and learns about his family. Yee-Jae wonders, if he had lived on, would he ever have had a family like that? He makes a promise to his partner’s daughter that he won’t let him get hurt. Ultimately, while fighting a criminal with a gun, Ji-Hyeong pushes the man off a building to save his partner’s life, ending his own. Yee-Jae’s next life is that of a homeless old man. After living as Ji-Hyeong, he finally realizes that none of what he’s accomplished as Ji-Hyeong is his own achievement. He feels tired of the game at this point and doesn’t want to go through it anymore. He doesn’t know who he is. When the gem-like thing with the homeless man’s memories appears in front of him, Yee-Jae starts to run away from it. He trips on some stairs and ends up dead.

The question remains: is it destiny or is it Yee-Jae’s doing? What if Ji-Hyeong was always meant to save his partner and not because Yee-Jae made that promise to the little girl? Death reminds Yee-Jae that none of that matters. With two lives remaining, Death reminds Yee-Jae that he’s a fool (he really is).


Why Does Death Allow Yee-Jae To Turn Back Time?

Yee-Jae believes that the death of that man in front of him seven years earlier was the reason he ended up in this dark hole. His 11th life is that of the man who died in front of him on that fateful day. Yee-Jae can make the choice of saving the man, but he realizes that despite the man having everything that Yee-Jae ever dreamed of, it all went away in a fleeting moment. Ultimately, he goes with the man’s plan of killing himself in front of Tae-U’s car, setting off the whole thing all over again. He can’t even tell the younger Yee-Jae not to kill himself. He simply begs Death to save him (which is what made Tae-U believe he was God). Death assumed that, like all the other humans she’s punished, Yee-Jae too would want to give himself another chance. But it seems Yee-Jae now believes there’s no point in life at all. Death asks Yee-Jae why he didn’t take the opportunity to set things straight; however, Yee-Jae still believes death is simply a means to end his pain. He has no idea what kind of curve ball Death is going to throw at him.


Why Does Yee-Jae Want Another Chance?

Yee-Jae’s last life was as his mother. The title of the final episode is “Don’t go looking for death; it’ll find you.” Death’s Game is very clearly a show about suicide prevention. Apart from all the fantastic things that South Korea is known for, it has a notoriously high suicide rate. Death’s Game informs viewers that suicide is actually a very selfish move, showing us the effects it has on the bereaved families. Yee-Jae can only empathize with his mother when he’s living as her. He believed he knew her in his lifetime, but it turns out he didn’t know anything about her for all those years. Yee-Jae realizes that his mother used to be a girl with big dreams who then became a woman and a mother, thinking her life was destined for dedication to her family, but that was a fleeting moment too, because her husband died soon. Yee-Jae was his mother’s reason for living. She blamed herself when he died, calling herself a terrible mother for allowing her son to feel the need to kill himself. She wishes for him to have a better family in the future so he can meet rich parents and never feel lonely. Oh, if only she knew.

Yee-Jae is reminded that his little life was almost uneventful in comparison to that of his mother and those of her age. He remembers a mountain that she wanted to visit with him when he became successful. Yee-Jae decides to go there so she can live that dream, if only in a different way. Yee-Jae imagines standing next to his mom and seeing the beautiful sunset together. On her way down, she has a terrible fall, but Yee-Jae is determined to keep her alive. Yee-Jae can finally see why Death kept calling him a selfish fool.

Yee-Jae proceeds to live on as his mother for the next 32 years (no, this is not some weird Norman Bates situation), longer than he lived as himself. He finally defeats Death at her own game, dying of natural causes much later. I suppose she was meant to die on the mountain that day, but it could’ve been Yee-Jae’s determination that kept her alive. Yee-Jae gets on his knees and begs Death to give him one more chance to set things straight. He says he wants to hug his mom one more time. Since Yee-Jae won, he has had one wish granted: another bullet in the gun. If the gun fires, he gets his second chance, but otherwise, his life is in God’s hands. At the end of Death’s Game Part 2, the gun fires, leaving Yee-Jae the victor of the roulette and getting a chance at life again. Maybe this time he’ll learn to live life as himself! I suppose the takeaway from Death’s Game is to enjoy the small moments and live life one day at a time, never worrying about the bigger picture, because we’re all a minuscule part of this world of death.


Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
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.

Latest articles

Featured