San-Yeong In ‘Revenant,’ Explained: Why Was San-Yeong So Lonely?

It’s not every day that we get an excellent horror show that is an all-rounder. We have pining romance, family drama, heartbreak, commentary on the class divide, and suicide all in this one show called Revenant that is entertaining (for lack of a better word) from its first minute to its last. San-Yeong is played by the amazing Kim Tae-Ri, who happens to be at her peak in this one for sure. She does an incredible job of switching from the fear of being possessed to being possessed within seconds. It’s probably all her theatre skills working to her benefit. All her life, San-Yeong has struggled with money and, inevitably, everything else that comes with it. She worked hard at part-time jobs from a young age and continued to do so because she couldn’t afford not to and was giving her civil exam. Because of this, San-Yeong never got to dream big for herself. She was always under the impression that whatever she wanted would never come to her.


It’s interesting that the evil spirit says she likes San-Yeong because “she lives for herself.” This is the one thing San-Yeong struggles with most desperately. She wants to do things of her own accord, but she’s never had the chance to. San-Yeong has been living in the shadows (which may be another reason why the evil spirit is represented as a shadow) all her life, so to be able to see beyond that is an almost impossible task for her. The evil spirit latches onto San-Yeong because she knows that they share one thing in common: they’ve both missed a lot of things in life, so it’s almost as if San-Yeong mirrors Hyangi’s old life in the present day. San-Yeong is very intelligent, and she is very quick to understand how the evil spirit works and what she wants. San-Yeong struggles with her dreams, and as the series progresses, this becomes rather clear. She had wanted to kill herself because she found her life to be worthless, but when she starts to realize that she actually wants to live a life that has more meaning than going from one part-time job to another, she doesn’t have any dreams she can aim for.

San-Yeong’s big dilemma begins when she figures out that she will lose her eyesight soon. She suddenly realizes that she hasn’t done anything she wants to do and hasn’t been able to live happily like other people her age. She’s been living such a fast-paced life that she doesn’t have the time to sit and breathe for herself. It takes being possessed for her to realize that she actually does want those things. A lot of people live under the pretence that they don’t want material happiness because they can’t have it, but the evil spirit proves to San-Yeong that she is greedy too. Otherwise, to her mother and Semi, San-Yeong always looked like an unshakable rock, but in reality, she was also fragile. We see some bits of young San-Yeong through Hong-Sae’s point of view. He’s seen her grow up and wants her to be happy because he’s seen how she’s struggled. When the evil spirit asks him why San-Yeong is so important to him and why she should live, Hong-Sae says it’s because she’s strong. We know that they haven’t met a lot in between school and adult life, but even knowing San-Yeong just for a little while, Hong-Sae knows that she’s extremely hardworking and also has a fighting spirit. In some ways, he sees some inspiration in her.


Although for most of the series, we get the feeling that Hong-Sae has been the one who has fallen hard for San-Yeong and has been pining after her for a long time, we can’t deny that San-Yeong, too, has some kind of feelings for him. We know that the evil spirit works on the possessed person’s desires, and we see her inching toward Hong-Sae at the wedding dinner. We can also pretend that she remembers his coffee order at the end because she likes him just a tiny bit. San-Yeong, of course, has too much going on in her life to think about anything romantic. She’s busy trying to get rid of an evil spirit without going blind.

San-Yeong and Hae-Sang are a great team, and we can see that she takes after her father in terms of interests. She looks very interested in the folklore side of things, and it’s great to see her finding something interesting for herself for once. It’s possible that San-Yeong is grasping at straws with Hae-Sang because she can’t have an actual relationship with her father. On the other hand, San-Yeong’s relationship with her mother is strange. We know she cares for her deeply, but she also has old wounds because of her. We see at the end of Revenant that San-Yeong has had to cover for her mother many times; she’s also the reason they got scammed at the beginning of the show, so really, the girl’s had everything on her shoulders from a young age.


San-Yeong’s story is actually a basic self-loving one. She had to almost die before realizing how much she needed to understand herself and start to live for herself. She learns the value of her life and the importance of choosing what to do with it. Once she starts doing things for herself, she finally becomes happy naturally. San-Yeong’s wish is to be happy, and not only Hae-Sang, who actually voices it out, but everybody else is keen on her happiness too. We’re given a hint that she’s already living for the small things, and even though the show ends with the sad thought that San-Yeong will be blind soon, she is ready to fight that battle too. As we learned in the show, suicide is a huge problem in South Korea, and Revenant is definitely pushing people to find a way to live through San-Yeong’s story. Ultimately, she did find her happiness, and things became better for her!

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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.

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