‘Emergency Declaration’ Ending, Explained: Is Anti-Dote For The Virus Found? Does Sky Korea 501 Land Safely?

“Emergency Declaration” expertly merges adrenaline and serotonin as it takes us through the journey of a commercial airliner, the Sky Korea 501. Writer/director Han Jae-Rim does a good job of adding realism that reminds us of the tragedy that is human life. A biological terror attack on a plane brings out the real side of those people involved in the situation, both inside the plane and on land. At the end of it all, the film forces not just the characters in the film into submission but the viewers as well.


Spoilers Ahead

‘Emergency Declaration’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Ryu Jin-seok, a senior researcher of microbiology at the multinational pharmaceutical firm BRICOM, slashes open his right underarm with a knife and shoves a small capsule inside. He then sews the skin back. He is in a bathroom at the Incheon airport, intending to board a flight that has the most passengers. He curses at an employee at the counter when she refuses to tell him how many people are headed to Hawaii. He then stumbles upon a father and daughter who are going to Hawaii.


Park Jae-hyuk and his daughter Soo-min, who suffers from eczema, are about to board Sky Korea 501, which will take them to Honolulu, Hawaii, from Incheon, South Korea. At the airport, Park comes across a weird guy who asks him questions about his daughter. Finding the guy rather strange, Park avoids answering him and heads toward the gate with his daughter.

First Officer Choi Hyun-soo, the pilot of Sky Korea 501, notices former pilot Park Jae-hyuk with his daughter at the airport. Park was the one under whose command Choi’s wife, a flight attendant on the airliner Park was flying, lost her life when Park emergency-landed the aircraft due to an engine loss. Park quit his job after the incident.


Sergeant Koo In-ho’s wife is going to Hawaii on vacation. At the department, he comes across a video where a guy threatened to attack a plane on the same day. Upon finding out the guy’s location, he discovers a dead body that has apparently been affected by a virus. The forensic team finds tapes of experiments that prove that the guy in question lowered the incubation period of the contagion. This guy can already be on any plane that has left the Incheon airport, including the one in which Koo In-ho’s wife is traveling.

Sky Korea 501 takes off for Hawaii. Ryu Jin-seok is on the flight. He heads to the washroom, locks the door behind him, and sprays something all around. He comes out to find little Soo-min, whom he met at the airport, waiting for her turn to use the washroom. However, another guy rushed in before she could. Ryu bends down and says something in her ear. A few minutes later, Park Jae-hyuk brings Soo-min to the flight attendants. He shows them the video of the guy threatening to attack a plane and how his face matches someone who is on the flight. The same guy told Soo-min that everyone on the plane was going to die.


Not even half an hour has passed since the plane took off when a guy rushes out of the washroom with blood coming out of his nostrils and a ruptured left eye. Before anyone could assist him, he started vomiting blood. He has been infected by the contagious virus that is slowly making its way to each and every corner of the plane, including the cockpit.

Will Sergeant Koo In-ho be able to find out the guy’s identity? Will Park Jae-hyuk be able to protect his daughter? Will Korea’s finest be successful in bringing Sky Korea 501 home safely? “Emergency Declaration” is the only way.


A Virus Injected Long Ago

We learned about Ryu Jin-seok from the sole survivor of the effects of the virus at BRICOM. She reveals that since childhood, Ryu Jin-seok has been pressured by his mother, who was a microbiologist. This took a toll on him, and as a result, he started taking pleasure in killing animals whenever he was stressed. We can say that it was a way to vent out his rage, a rage that resulted from not being able to retaliate against his mother’s behavior. It was a way of revenge for him, as the survivor stated. This behavior continued at BRICOM as well, and despite being told to stop, Ryu Jin-seok’s actions got more severe, to the point where he exposed three members of his team to the mutated SC-1 virus and was enjoying watching his teammates as they were writhing in pain. Ultimately, in his madness, he upped the ante by deciding to kill a plane full of people. Why? Because Ryu Jin-seok’s mom pressured him. Maybe she wanted him to become a microbiologist like her, but this is where the irony lies. He did become a microbiologist, but rather than contributing to the scientific community; he is killing people. It only goes on to prove how our childhood shapes who we are, and often, a child who has been mistreated by his parents decides to do the same to the world around him. We also find out at the end of the film that after the death of his mother, Ryu Jin-seok lost his sense of his identity. This can mean that, in the absence of his mother, he turned to other people to vent his rage. Only this time, his mother won’t be there to pressure him into doing what she wants and not what he wants.

A Commercial Secret

BRICOM denies any allegations and doesn’t allow any search without a warrant. We know that it received the mutated SC-1 virus from the Middle East. It also developed an antidote for the virus. Here, we cannot help but think of the possibility that BRICOM wanted to play monopoly by claiming to be the only company that has an antidote to a deadly contagious virus. Maybe, it was trying to mitigate the risks of the virus and would release it only so that they could make more money by selling the antidote. This might be the reason why BRICOM sacked Ryu Jin-seok without filing any charges, as it would also compromise them. Let’s also not forget that the company received the virus in secret. So, if BRICOM hadn’t bought the virus, Ryu Jin-seok wouldn’t have been able to get his hands on it by manipulating his friend, and no one would have had to die.


Prioritizing Lives

The “Emergency Declaration” gave a supposedly realistic and apt representation of how the world would react to a biological terror attack on a plane. We have people in helpless fear of death, debate in the news channels, people for and against the notion of allowing the plane to land, world governments divided, and finally, a biotech company hiding facts—and finally, a sacrifice. After the word spread that people inside the plane had been infected, both the US and Japan denied letting Sky Korea 501 from landing. While the US halts any communication with Korea, Japan makes it clear that a government’s job is to protect its own people first, and they cannot risk letting the plane land as it might allow the virus to spread further.

First Officer Choi Hyun-soo lets go of his hatred for Park Jae-hyuk for the sake of the lives at stake. He authorizes Park to fly the plane in case he dies. Sergeant Koo In-ho is frantically looking for a way to get the plane on land. His wife, Jung Hye-yoon, is on the flight, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get her back. When all else fails, he injects himself with the virus so that the doctors can test if the antivirus works or not. Finally, the people inside the plane come to a unanimous decision that it is better if the plane doesn’t land, as it will risk the lives of their loved ones. As much as it hurts, it needs to be done. It is tragic to see all the people calling their loved ones and speaking to them for the last time. In an intense sequence, Park is seen trying to maneuver the plane, which is almost out of fuel. He apologizes to Choi for what happened but believes that he did the right thing. Choi, who is very sick, forgives Park and says that he would have done the same. In this way, even in the face of the imminent death that their profession has ultimately led them to, two pilots face each other and accept their truths, no matter the hurt it has caused them both. Choi is glad that Park was on the plane, as without him, none of the people on board would have survived. Park is thankful to Choi for accepting his answer.


‘Emergency Declaration’ Ending Explained – Is An Anti-Dote For The Virus Found? Does Sky Korea 501 Land Safely?

BRICOM hands over the antidote, and though the outcome is doubted at first, there is a cry of relief after Sergeant Koo In-ho’s health starts to improve after the virus injection. Park Jae-hyuk, the one flying the plane, is contacted and told to land as the antidote is working. What follows is a tense phase as Park struggles to land the plane without crashing it. The plane is low on fuel. By turning off the engine and saving fuel, Park manages to slow down the plane using the force of the wind so as to not risk having the plane fly past the runway before turning on the engine again and maneuvering the plane onto the airfield. Sky Korea Flight 501 lands safely. Many people have lost their lives, but many have survived, all thanks to Park’s intellect at the last moment.

“Emergency Declaration,” despite its so-called happy ending, remains a tragic film in our minds. We know that Ryu Jin-seok is dead (He died in the plane and had no intention of staying alive whatsoever). But what happened is what he wanted to happen. Furthermore, he affected more people than he intended to.


Towards the end of the film, Sook-Hee, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport tells the jury that some people are steeped in a vice beyond reason. Some men aren’t looking for anything logical. They cannot be bought, bullied, reasoned with, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. And that is what led to the disaster we call an “Emergency Declaration.”

“Emergency Declaration” is a 2022 thriller drama film directed by Han Jae-rim.

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Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata Dutta
Shubhabrata’s greatest regret is the fact that he won’t be able to watch every movie and show ever made. And when he isn’t watching a movie or a show, he is busy thinking about them and how they are made; all while taking care of his hobbies. These include the usual suspects i.e. songs, long walks, books and PC games.

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