‘Hunt’ (2022) Ending, Explained: Who Is Donglim? Is Chief Park Dead Or Alive? Who Was Jo Yoo-Jeong?

It is said the spy network was most active during World War II and the Cold War. Espionage, betraying the country, sending information to the enemy country, and many more topics cover the genre of a spy thriller. What makes a spy thriller interesting enough? The complexity of the screenplay, the real stories that inspired it, and how real the characters seem on screen. What James Bond, Ethan Hunt, or Jason Bourne do on screen as spies are just the tip of the iceberg. The 1980s were a time when the world was inclined towards either communism or capitalism. North Korea and South Korea were not on good terms. South Korea was marred by student protests. The general outlook towards anything related to communism was looked down upon by capitalist countries around the world. “Hunt,” a Korean language film directed by Lee Jung-Jae, is a story set in 1980s South Korea when a coup d’état took place and two high-ranking officers working with the KCIA were assigned the job of finding out who was plotting to assassinate the Korean President. Do they succeed in finding the person or organization behind the assassination attempt?

Spoilers Ahead

‘Hunt’ Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?

Koreans in America are protesting the arrival of the Korean President to the country owing to the illegal deposition of the previous head of the state. The newspapers are filled with stories of how the current President took power. Chief Park of the KCIA Foreign Unit and Chief Kim of the Domestic Unit of KCIA is on the ground assessing the situation as the President is heading towards the hotel, and the protests are happening right outside the hotel. Chief Park is calm about the situation’s growth, but Chief Kim is agitated because he is worried that the protests might turn violent any second. Both are on opposite sides of the spectrum at this point because their views of the situation are different. Soon they receive a message from the CIA about an assassination attempt that would happen against the President. The location of the assassin is on the opposite side of the hotel where the President is put up. The entire KCIA is on the hunt to catch the assassin alive, and in that hustle, Chief Park is held hostage briefly, but not before Chief Kim kills the assassin on the spot. Chief Park is angry and taken aback by the fact that Chief Kim killed the assassin, for Park specifically ordered that the assassin be captured alive. Chief Park wanted the person to be alive to know who the conspirator behind the assassination attempt was. 

The team comes back to Korea to further investigate who was behind the assassination attempt. They arrest a college professor and pile on him plenty of charges that the professor is innocent of, for he is not what officials claim. Both Park and Kim are under pressure from the director of KCIA to solve this matter as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Chief Park is the guardian of a college girl named Jo Yoo-Jeong and helps her with her financial difficulties from time to time. He bails her out along with other students from her university who were part of the student protests. It is not established what exactly the nature of their relationship is, but Jo Yoo makes it clear that Chief Park is not her father. Her behavior towards him is cold, for she treats him only like a figure who would help her financially.

Chief Park and Chief Kim initially get along as Kim invites Park over to his home for dinner, but soon their working relationship sours as the work pressure gets to them. Soon they learn of a North Korean physicist in Japan who is willing to defect to South Korea with some information regarding their leadership’s plans. The team is also informed of a mole in the organization, which is passing valuable information to North Korea. Donglim is the mole or informant they are looking for and has been on their radar since the 1970s. The mission in Japan fails as the North Korean physicist is killed by North Korean agents. Chief Park tries his best to save his team members, but only one person survives the gunfight, and that agent slips into a coma. That agent was also the person to whom the physicist revealed classified information. Chief Park and Chief Kim again fail to bring out hard results from this mission. Chief Park makes sure he blames the director as well for misleading them while at the same time accepting bribes. He makes sure the director leaves the post for his team to work effectively. Chief Park is furious and agitated over the fact that his orders were not followed during the Japan mission, which led to the loss of too many Korean lives. Meanwhile, Kim is too frustrated over the fact that nothing was gained from this mission. Both are still looking out for Donglim.

‘Hunt’ Ending Explained – Who Is Donglim? Is Chief Park Dead Or Alive?

Chief Kim was previously an army officer who was soon recruited by the KCIA. The new director meets Chief Kim and Chief Park separately and talks about the mole situation in the agency. Director Ahn orders Chief Kim to investigate Chief Park’s team for their role in the Japan mission’s failure. Meanwhile, he simultaneously asks Chief Park to investigate Chief Kim’s team, as he gave both dates of when Donglim made contact in Japan. Chief Kim and Park become suspicious of each other and start digging up each other’s past. With the director making sure they collide and fight, there is no stopping them from one-upping each other. Soon a long and tedious cat-and-mouse chase begins between Park and Kim. With both trying to smear one another in the hope of finding the conspirator and Donglim, they end up losing their sleep and minds.

Chief Park finds out about Chief Kim’s relation to the arms dealing company Jupiter. Jupiter’s CEO served in the army with Kim. That raises alarms, and Chief Park starts investigating more into their dealings. Chief Park unearths the fact that Kim is a part of a faction that wants to overthrow the current President, who was behind the unlawful killings of protestors. Kim was a witness to such murders, and he takes it upon himself to make the President pay for his crimes. One of the members of the faction is the CEO of Jupiter, who helped him and the followers with funding. For Chief Kim, the safety and security of his people are a priority, and he vows to remain faithful to his country and countrymen. Kim is a patriot, and he will make sure to do the right thing for his country, even if it means eliminating the current President and placing a leader that people like and want. On the other side, Chief Park is being investigated by Kim, and he comes to know of a woman he regularly meets and offers financial help. Kim’s team arrests Jo Yoo-Jeong and questions her about her life as a student in Japan. She is harassed by Kim’s team, which is stopped by Park, who is made aware of the interrogation. He requests her to endure the torture but never reveals anything to Kim’s team. It seems Park knew something of Jo Yoo but was not ready to deal with it. Park suddenly becomes a protective guardian who wants to save Jo Yoo from all the trouble and hopes that she will stay away from the nitty-gritty of the nation’s politics. Park reveals that she is the daughter of his Japanese informant. He is helping her in return for her father’s work, who died on a mission with him. Jo Yoo, though, is unperturbed by the interrogation she is put through because. She keeps insisting that learning Korean in a North Korean school in Japan has nothing to do with her life now in South Korea. At this point, she had not informed Park of her arrest, which she usually does whenever she is in trouble. She made sure to stay put and endure the pain while she stated only the fact that she is a Japanese exchange student in Korea. 

Kim and Park’s animosity increases as Park orders the arrest of Jupiter’s CEO to interrogate him. Park and Kim are at each other’s throats at this point in their quest to find who Donglim is and what is his/her game plan. Chief Park wants to know if there will be any other plot to assassinate their President, and Kim wants to know the ideology of those Donglim is associated with. Park’s assistant does all the research for him to dig deeper into Chief Kim’s wrongdoing and friends when she realizes Chief Park’s visit to Japan coincides with the dates provided by Director Ahn. Park visited Japan not under his official passport but under another passport issued by KCIA for covert operations. She finds out that Chief Park is indeed Donglim and the one sharing highly confidential information with North Korea. He instantly kills her. Chief Kim’s men, who had bugged Park’s home and were tailing him, come to know of Park’s real identity. He follows him, but not before both are kidnapped by a bunch of armed men. Those armed men turn out to be North Korean agents. Chief Park is finally told that North Korea never wanted to negotiate with the South. They will deal with the matter using the army, and the South will be annexed within six hours; the official word from the North Korean regime reveals Donglim/Park should be eliminated once the mission is done. Chief Park, at this point, feels betrayed, for he always believed in peace negotiations and not war as a solution to the 30-year-old conflict. Park is a logical thinker who is aware that the state will fail under the North Korean regime. Chief Park comes to realize that his life does not matter to his bosses, and his work won’t be acknowledged either. Park is soon saved by Kim. Chief Kim is confronted by the agency and reveals their knowledge of his relations to the political faction that wants to eliminate the President. In the audio recording, it is revealed that Chief Kim and his fellow followers were the ones who plotted to assassinate the President of America. Kim is now aware of Park’s identity and his role as Donglim but does not arrest him. With the hope that Park would reciprocate the favor, Kim announced Donglim was killed in the mission in which they rescued Chief Park.

At Chief Kim’s request, Jupiter’s CEO is killed during the interrogation because if he starts talking, that will put Chief Kim’s position at the agency in danger. He will end up getting court-martialed. Chief Kim convinces his fellow followers to negotiate with the North Korean regime to eliminate the President as he believes this is the only way to save their country. The followers initially refuse to join hands with the North Koreans, but Kim explains without this offer, they have no other way out to save their nation. Chief Kim is desperate and angry because he is getting nowhere close to the President so that he can be eliminated, and this makes him an ally of North Koreans through Chief Park, who is forced to be a part of this mission. On the President’s trip to Thailand, the North Korean sniper is instructed to kill the President right after the first line of the national anthem is sung. Chief Park is uncomfortable with the fact that North Korea could be invading the South at any moment and with the number of people that will be killed in the forthcoming battle. Chief Kim arm-twists him to stick to the plan so that none of them reveal each other’s secret. Chief Park, out of sheer guilt, stops the President’s motorcade and announces there will be an assassination attempt. As the gunfire begins, Chief Kim takes it upon himself to kill the President. Chief Park tries to stall him, but another North Korean undercover agent detonates the bomb planted in the hotel, throwing everyone off. Chief Kim is gravely injured and dies, but Chief Park survives. The President is taken to a safe house. Chief Kim’s betrayal of his head of state proves that he is a martyr and a patriot. He loves his country but does not associate with the ideology of the current President of his country. Chief Kim was always of the opinion that serving his people and the country was more important than serving the head of state. 

Chief Park returns Chief Kim’s dog tag to his family and heads south to meet Jo Yoo-Jeong. Jo Yoo-Jeong was sent to the South, away from the conflict, once she was cleared by the authorities. Jo Yoo-Jeong points a gun at Chief Park, and soon a bunch of North Korean agents surround him and shoot him. Jo Yoo-Jeong is given a South Korean passport by Park just before he dies of multiple wounds. Chief Park always considered Jo Yoo-Jeong as his daughter and gave her his surname in her new passport. Chief Park believed what he did was right for the greater good but ended up having to pay for it with his life. His past caught up to him and did not let him go.

Who Jo Yoo-Jeong Was? Why Did She Shoot The North Koreans? Is She Dead Or Alive?

Jo Yoo – Jeong was a North Korean operative trained and hired to keep a check on Donglim if he failed to deliver the results. Jo Yoo’s father, who came in contact with Park as a Japanese informant, was also a North Korean agent hired to keep track of Park’s movement. The North Koreans were not sure if Park/Donglim would be able to withstand their final solution. They used him to gather as much classified information about the movements and political decisions of the South Korean President and other secret covert missions. They kill him once his work is done, using Jo Yoo – Jeong as bait. Park was aware of Jo Yoo – Jeong’s all this while; that is the reason he begs her not to reveal anything during her arrest and interrogation. Jo Yoo – Jeong is heartbroken over her role in Park/Donglim’s death. She receives her South Korean passport from Park, who advises starting fresh just before he dies of multiple wounds. Jo Yoo – Jeong instantly realizes what her life is worth. Just like Park/Donglim was killed, she will also be killed one day. She makes an instant decision to shoot the North Korean agent, for she wants to live her life on her terms freely and independently, not to be bogged down by state politics. Jo Yoo – Jeong running away is proof of the fact that she now wants to live her life differently.

“Hunt” is a 2022 Korean action thriller film directed by Lee Jung-jae.

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Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan
Smriti Kannan is a cinema enthusiast, and a part time film blogger. An ex public relations executive, films has been a major part of her life since the day she watched The Godfather – Part 1. If you ask her, cinema is reality. Cinema is an escape route. Cinema is time traveling. Cinema is entertainment. Smriti enjoys reading about cinema, she loves to know about cinema and finding out trivia of films and television shows, and from time to time indulges in fan theories.

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