The year’s only begun, and we’ve got a fantastic K-drama to scream about already. While Gyeongseong Creature retreads familiar territory when it comes to the plot and morals, it’s also a historical drama with an emotional impact on us viewers. As it is with K-dramas, we always get a little bit of it all: romance, thriller, family drama, comedy, sci-fi, fantasy—you name the genre, and chances are it’s included somehow. Gyeongseong Creature is one of those shows that you know, deep down, in the back of your mind, is going to end up sad in more than one way. It’s a historical drama, meaning war and death, of course. Yet, somehow, the end of this show will leave you more hopeful than you could’ve imagined. The show follows Tae-Sang, a self-made man who slowly learns that he can’t afford to be ignorant of the world around him after seeing the devastating human atrocities at Onseong Hospital.
The truth is that Tae-Sang’s eyes are only opened when he meets Chae-Ok, the future love of his life. Tae-Sang is a good man throughout the series. There’s never a moment when you feel like he won’t do the righteous thing. Despite being ignorant, he somehow ends up doing what’s best for everyone around him. He knows that the people around him have all betrayed him at some point, yet he considers them family because that’s the situation they’re in. Despite being a rich man who really cares for his pawnshop, Tae-Sang always chooses people over material things, never displaying any egocentric desires, until he meets Chae-Ok. Their first encounter is a chance one that has them both disregarding each other as the kind of people they don’t want to associate with. As time progresses, they get closer to each other, and it quickly goes from friendship to love. Obviously, they don’t have much time, considering their lives are in danger every second of every day.
Chae-Ok shows Tae-Sang how cruel the world really is as he follows her into doing good deeds by accident. He grows to like her more and more as he sees how selfless she is, in many ways, similar to him. I suppose it’s essentially a form of trauma bonding. Tae-Sang is an orphan, but he knows love from the people around him. On the other hand, Chae-Ok has spent most of her life looking for her mother. They’re both striving for something, but they only realize it’s companionship when they meet each other. A big part of Gyeongseong Creature is the love story between Chae-Ok and Tae-Sang. It’s a driving force for Tae-Sang to become a better person and to have somebody to protect after all these years. Of course, he cares about his associates, but he’d do anything for Chae-Ok—leave everything behind, just to be with her.
This is when things get a little bit sad. Throughout the series, the two lovebirds share many goodbyes. They’ve each got their own plans for saving the other, along with other people, of course. Tae-Sang almost dies in the hospital multiple times, and Chae-Ok decides to push herself to find her mother and help her when her father ends up leaving her behind. This is when she decides on her suicide mission to kill Ichiro. When Tae-Sang learns that Chae-Ok is missing, he decides to leave everything behind to go find her. His only responsibility becomes Chae-Ok because he can’t imagine a future without her. This is when things get really sad. Every time Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok are coming close to their happy ending, it’s snatched from under their tired and battered feet.
Just when Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok are going to escape from Gyeongseong, Maeda finds them. As if it wasn’t enough for her to take her mother away from her, Maeda also plans on taking Chae-Ok’s future away. The odds aren’t in Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok’s favor as Maeda’s men grossly outnumber them. With no help, they try their hardest to stay alive, but they’re both grievously wounded. Just as it appears there might be a killing blow, Seishin appears and saves them both. She doesn’t know who Tae-Sang is, nor does she know that he loves her daughter. Her clouded judgment sees him as a threat too, so she tries to kill him while he’s helping Chae-Ok escape.
This is when Seishin’s tentacle pierces through Chae-Ok’s chest. The real killing blow. Of course, in drama fashion, Chae-Ok has a monologue left in her. She apologizes to her mother for what she has gone through and pleads with her to stop. However, she tells Tae-Sang that the cherry blossoms have finally fallen. This is in a way their code for the future looks brighter. The future that they were meant to have together but can’t anymore. This is her wish for him to be happy while thinking of her, as she asked him to promise. Both Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok promise each other that they’ll always remember each other, so they can each die knowing they’re in somebody’s memory. Not forgotten, as Maeda would’ve liked. Their last rebellion.
So, to answer the question, technically, Gyeongseong Creature does not have a happy ending. Chae-Ok is dead, and Tae-Sang is back to being his ignorant and distant self. He’s got nobody to protect anymore, meaning he’s got nothing left to care about but lives on for those who died, Chae-Ok included. However, at the end of the season, there are some drastic changes to the story when Chae-Ok is brought back to life by her mother, who gives her her Najin. This is still not a happy ending as such, but seeing that she’s alive again is somehow more positive, at least. Additionally, the post-credit scene gives us a hopeful ending, where the city is doing better and Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok may have an heir. I suppose, at the end of the day, that’s somewhat of a happy ending that leaves us also optimistic for another season that will bring the monster mania to the modern day while simultaneously showing us how Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok lived the rest of their lives with fallen cherry blossoms.