‘Goodbye Earth’ Ending Explained & K-Drama Recap: What Is The Cult About?

The inevitability of death has always raised questions about the meaning and purpose of human existence. While some believe that death renders all our efforts and achievements futile, others find peace in the belief in an afterlife. Finding hope in the fact that there might be consciousness after death, creationists usually believe that the subjective values and principles we stand for in this life carry significance beyond the grave. The fragility of these same values, especially when confronted with the realization of an impending death, is a central theme explored in the Netflix series Goodbye Earth. As the world comes face-to-face with the threat of an asteroid collision, it falls into a state of utter chaos, which makes you wonder if the people really have the right to let an entire population perish just to protect one’s own resources. 


Spoilers Ahead

What’s the plot about? 

This Netflix series goes deep into the psychological impact of being annihilated by a space rock as society falls into chaos. In this dystopian world, the rich and powerful have already moved into the safe zones, leaving behind the underprivileged, who do not have the means to afford to move to another country. In fact, not all rich people are able to leave the country, as the safe zones overseas only prefer people of importance. Meanwhile, there are men like Sang-eun, Se-kyung’s boyfriend, who lived in Los Angeles at the time the news about the asteroid was announced. Unlike other people, Sang-eun wants to go back to South Korea to reunite with his girlfriend. 


Soon after the tragic news was made public in Korea, it seems there had been a civil war between the loyalist South Korean forces and rebels. While further information about the war has not been clarified, it seems this war drained the army of their ammunition, rendering them practically useless. After the end of the war, during a protest to have the children seek refuge in the safe zones, a gang of child traffickers who had recently broken out of prison attacked the gathering and kidnapped the children to have them trafficked abroad. Meanwhile, Se-kyung, a middle-school teacher, goes against all odds to protect her students, who unfortunately became victims of this heinous crime. Unfortunately, only three of her students survived the incident, but they are still being targeted by the gang. Left with no other choice, Se-kyung is compelled to go so far as to kill one of the men.

What is the cult about?

Nearly three years before the events of the series, Jeong-ah used to run a pyramid scheme, which resulted in the deaths of a few people. After the asteroid crisis, however, Jeong-ah is back once again with a new scam to capitalize on the vulnerabilities. She has started the Wooyang Training Center cult to lure people who wish to leave the country. This time, it seems that people are actually quite desperate just to save their own lives, and even the elites of Weongcheon City have started to associate with the organization and are not here to mess around. Moreover, the Wooyang Training Center is not messing around this time, as they even have the JIU on their payroll. 


To get inducted into this cult, the devotees must surrender every single one of their belongings to the organization, which then offers them the promise of an eternal life after the asteroid hits the planet. It was revealed later that the Wooyang Training Centre cult was indeed involved with the head of the trafficking ring, and they have been making a fair share of contacts, which they believe will come in handy for them to get out of the country. Se-Kyung finally convinces In-a to lead her battalion on a raid at the Wooyang Training Center, fearing for the safety of the kids. In-a arranges for the children to be transferred to the nearest hospital. 

How does Father Baek give gold to the Americans?

Father Baek was a beloved priest at the Woongcheon City Parish until he left the country. Brought on by an approaching sense of impending doom, the priest ended up becoming corrupted by the power and importance, and moreover, survival. He orchestrated the plan to flee, as if he were being taken into custody by the JIU. However, the truth was far from this. As the gold prices were rising, people like Father Baek decided to take advantage of the situation. It turns out Father Baek had been planning for a safe passage for quite some time, and before his disappearance, he had made a deal with the cult as well as the traffickers and turned a blind eye to the atrocities they were committing. He had given up on faith and prioritised saving his own skin. 


Through the traffickers’ and his own contacts, the Father makes a deal with two American pilots who offer to airlift the people from the cult, along with the Korean chief of staff. In exchange for a safe trip, Father Baek selfishly offers the gold from the church’s vault to the American pilots, who agree to airlift them out of South Korea to a safe zone. For most of the series, Father Baek was missing or even presumed dead. It wasn’t until the end that Father Baek got a taste of his own medicine. Because of Se-Kyung’s deliberate tardiness in the confessional booth when he visits his church one last time, Father Baek ends up missing the last flight out of South Korea. It is revealed that this plane eventually crashes in the Pacific Ocean, presumably killing everyone on board, leaving Father Baek disgusted at himself and gradually losing his sanity. 

Why did Ha-yul and her friends associate with Sergeant Kim?

Sergeant Kim is a problematic officer stationed at the army base in Woongcheon City. He has had a habit of fraternizing with civilians, because of which he mixed in with the wrong crowds. For a lonely soldier, there isn’t much to do at the end of the world, which is why they look for alternative modes of leisure, such as adult videos. Ha-yul and her friends, for some food rations or extra dollars, pirate adult videos on a pen drive and trade them with the soldiers. However, Sergeant Kim is also a pedophile, as he always makes inappropriate gestures at the minor girl, at times even asking her to make an inappropriate video of herself. As the asteroid approaches nearer, the officers in the Korean army are on a limited schedule too. Most of these privates and freshmen cadets are likely to be let go by the South Korean Armed Forces, but In-a is adamant about protecting the men under her command. Sergeant Kim, a bully, himself gets bullied by other armed personnel at the army barracks because of his behavior, which prompts him to leave. Having quit the army, Kim joins the gang and plots to kidnap Ha-yul and her two other friends. 


During an evening gathering at the church, Kim and the gang show up to take away Ha-yul and her friends, but then Se-kyung shoots one of the men, with the rest of the parishioners overpowering the gang. 

What happens to Se-Kyung?

Se-kyung was a selfless teacher who, even at the end of the world, wanted to make sure that her students were not victims of the cruelty of men. Despite intervention from the army, the human trafficking gang was a persistent bunch and popped up once again. In fact, their activities had not even decreased since the raid, and they had their eyes on Ha-yul and her friends. Se-Kyung had to make sure that she ended the problems from the very root, and she did. Subsequently, she visits the gang at the pub and starts shooting at all the men involved in the trafficking and the killing of her students. As she takes her aim at the boss in a final Mexican standoff, the screen blacks out, and we hear the sound of a single gunshot, implying that either of them might have taken the shot. 


Goodbye Earth ends on a bittersweet note, having explored the meaninglessness of every character’s remaining life. Abandoned by their governments and even the nation, Se-kyung upholds the values that she had always lived by. Throughout the series, we see Se-kyung and In-a conflicted with taking action, but the sooner the asteroid approaches, the more rigid they become with protecting the world they worked so hard to build and the children in it. The children at least had the right to die with dignity rather than being shipped off as sex objects to unknown destinations, and Se-kyung had to make sure of that. In such a grave period of meaninglessness, Se-kyung found meaning in doing the needful and protect her students by any possible means. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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