Is Se-kyung Dead In ‘Goodbye Earth’? Character Explained

Any human faced with their imminent mortality is bound to lose their head, and it won’t be a surprise if they descend into nihilism. However, for Se-kyung, she is served a new purpose when the entire world around her begins to fall apart. Se-kyung was merely a middle school teacher before the Korean government fled the country, leaving the people susceptible to lawlessness and chaos. [Spoilers Ahead] Perhaps that was what started Se-kyung’s series of woes that ultimately led to her heroic death. 


Why did Se-kyung want to kill Bae Jong-su?

Last week, I had a discussion with a friend about their willingness to take a life, to which my friend replied that it would depend upon what sort of person it comes down to. Like almost other person, Se-kyung wasn’t eager to kill anyone, but even her world had been affected by the disorder. When the group of child traffickers led by Bae Jong-su starts kidnapping children from the city of Weongcheong, even Se-kyung’s students fall victim to these heinous crimes. Out of all the children, only three of them survive. This harrowing incident weighs on Se-kyeung’s conscience.

Ideally, the government and law enforcement are supposed to prevent things like this from happening, but when the government has fled and the police are in shambles, the people of Weongcheong City are in a dilemma and fear for their children. Se-kyung knows that it is the responsibility of adults to keep their children safe, but with adversities as formidable as Bae Jong-su’s gang, things are simply not as easy. However, Se-kyung doesn’t like the way things are. She doesn’t like the lawlessness, and more than that, she is not okay with her students being in harm’s way. Even weeks after the kidnapping incident, Se-kyung is haunted by what happened to the children and has been having difficulty sleeping. 


After Ha-yul informs Se-kyung that Bae Jong-su’s gang moved into the house next to hers, Se-kyung approaches In-a for help in getting rid of Jong-su, but In-a had other responsibilities and had to turn her friend down. This prompts Se-kyung to take matters into her own hands. She gets hold of Bae Jong-su’s floor plans and studies them carefully, memorizing the nooks and crannies. Later, at night, she visits the house along with some chloroform and a knife, only to find Bae Jong-su already dead on his couch. While fleeing the house, Se-kyung is spotted by someone. 

Why did Se-kyungkill the stalker?

Even though Se-kyung didn’t kill the man, she is traumatized by his death. She had thought killing the man responsible would make her feel better, but it didn’t. When Se-kyung starts receiving messages from a stalker who is probably from Bae Jong-su’s gang, she is left anxious about the entire thing. When the stalker asks to meet in person, Se-kyung is quite skeptical but decides to meet him anyway. She follows his instructions and arrives at a subway station, where he guides her from the control room. Before he can get to her, In-ah takes him by surprise and orders him to jump into the water. Meanwhile, Se-kyung, who is hiding, turns on the powerlines, electrocuting the man to death. It is revealed later that In-ah too was in on the plan to confront this stalker, as she keeps the death of the man a secret from the authorities. 


At this point, it didn’t matter that Se-kyung was killing these men; she would do anything necessary to protect the children. But then, who wouldn’t? In the wild, a mother bear is way more ferocious than a male bear. Quite similar to a mother bear, Se-kyung has become a ferocious mother-like figure to these children. She knows killing is fundamentally wrong, but someone needs to stop these men. 

How does Se-kyung die?

Even after the raid at the red light district in Weongcheong, which put an end to the club run by the child traffickers, their business was still flourishing. With the asteroid approaching closer with each passing day, the activities of these criminals are getting more aggressive towards the kids. In one such incident, she follows these men to docks where they transport the children and overhears Sergeant Kim talking about Ha-yul and her friends, implying that he would have them abducted in exchange for passage to another country. 


This revelation triggers her even more than usual, as Ha-yul and her friends were like her own children that she needed to protect. Nobody else was even willing to take matters into their own hands. Even the army had no ammunition, and that made matters worse. The fact that JIU was in league with the cult as well as the traffickers ended up giving the criminals more power than anticipated. Se-kyung’s boyfriend, Yeon-sang, wanted to be there for her, but he had become distant from her as Se-kyung had shut herself off from him as well. Yeon-sang wanted to help in any possible way, but perhaps even he didn’t understand the direness of the situation and that the only solution was to execute these criminals. 

During the last few days, as the approaching asteroid even starts to appear in the skies, Se-kyung comes to terms with what she is going to do. There was no going back, and life as they knew it was already gone. Everyone, at least in Korea, was going to die anyway, and it no longer mattered if she died during the asteroid collision or in a gunfight against the human traffickers. She bids farewell to her boyfriend, Yeon-sang, with whom she hoped to die together, and heads for the club where the human traffickers operated. Arriving at the club, Se-kyung starts shooting at the men until she’s in a Mexican stand-off with one of the bosses. As the screen fades to black, a single gunshot is heard, leaving it unclear if it was her or the man who pulled the trigger. Regardless, this was a confrontation that Se-kyung wouldn’t survive. 


Se-kyung could’ve had a happy life if a giant space rock had never set course to obliterate the earth. She would’ve been happily married to Yeon-sang and even moved to California to live a happy life, perhaps even working as a teacher. But life isn’t ideal, and she finds herself in a world where everything becomes a do-or-die situation. She was a teacher who genuinely cared for her students as if they were her own children. The world did fall into a massive state of nihilism, but so did Se-kyung. She spent the last few days sacrificing herself so that she could bring the memories of her deceased students to rest. 

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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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