This Hellbound article contains MAJOR spoilers for both the Netflix series and Train to Busan.
While the tradition K-drama model is a one-and-done format, with one full story spanning an entire season and coming to a definitive conclusion, Hellbound feels different. The Netflix series ends on a massive cliffhanger that puts all of the supernaturally driven deaths that took place over the course of the first season in a new light. I’m referring, of course, to the apparent rebirth of Park Jungja. In the first season’s final moments, the woman and mother who died at the hands of the terrifying monsters apparently sent by God is brought back to life in the place that she died. Let’s discuss the possibility of a second season, and how Park Jungja’s story must be at its heart…
The Likelihood of Hellbound Season 2
While there has yet to be an official announcement from Netflix regarding Season 2, it is very telling that Hellbound‘s first season ends on a cliffhanger, creating more questions to be answered. The structure suggests that creator Yeon Sang-ho went in with the intention of continuing the story in a second season, with Episode 6 of Hellbound very much feeling like a season finale rather than a series finale.
Of course, regardless of intention and story structure, additional seasons of a Netflix series tend to get greenlit based on the success or not of a show. For a recent example, Squid Game was meant to be a one-season story, but its phenomenal success led Netflix to greenlight a second season with creator Hwang Donghyuk returning to continue Gihun’s story. In other words, if Hellbound flopped with audiences, then it almost certainly would not get a second season, regardless of whether or not the story itself necessitates it.
But Hellbound has decidedly not flopped with audiences. As of the time of this writing, less than a week following the Korean drama’s release on Netflix, Hellbound is #5 on Netflix’s U.S. Top Ten chart and, according to FlixPatrol analytics, it is Netflix’s #1 show globally. In its first 24 hours, the show was the world’s most watched Netflix TV series, according to FlixPatrol, topping the streaming ratings in more than 80 countries. Given these numbers and the first season’s structure, Hellbound will almost certainly get a second season.
Park Junga’s Return
But what will that second season look like? Presumably, it will be driven by the mystery surrounding the return of Park Jungja, which prompts so many follow-up questions: Will the other victims return too, or is Park Jungja special? How are Jungja’s children doing? Does Junga have memories of what happened to her between death and rebirth? Did she play a hand in her own resurrection? Is the miracle connected to Toughie’s survival?
That last question is perhaps the most interesting one to me, and the one that could drive Season 2’s story. Toughie is the first decreed to survive a supernatural proclamation of oncoming death. Her survival is a miracle, however you define that word. Did this miracle beget another miracle? While there’s no reason to assume that Jungja’s resurrection came right after Toughie’s survival (after all, this show is canonically cool with time jumps), the sequence of events implies a connection between the two events.
Often, in stories like this one, the universe demands balance; in other words, if someone survives who isn’t “meant to,” then someone else must die in their place. In Toughie’s case, both of her parents died in order to keep her alive. Thematically, there is a connection between Park Jungja and Sohyun/Youngjae. They are all parents, and good ones at that. All three of them are shown to be devoted to their children’s survival and well being above all else. Jungja agrees to have her brutal death televised live by the New Truth in order to ensure that her children will have the economic resources to carry on after her death. Heartbreakingly (and disturbingly), she calls her death sentence the best thing that has ever happened to her, as it will give the single mom the opportunity to financially provide for her children in a way she has never been able to before.
Parental Love as Central Theme in Hellbound
If Park Jungja and Sohyun/Youngjae are at one end of the good-to-bad parents spectrum in Hellbound, then Jeong Jinsu’s parents are at the other. We know from early in Hellbound‘s narrative that Jinsu grew up at a Catholic orphanage. In Episode 3, we get a bit more of his backstory: as a small child, he was left by his mother at a carnival, leading to his placement in the orphanage. Prior to getting a decree from an “angel,” he says he lived his life by the rules, believing that if he was good, then his mother would return for him. He is understandably angry and confused when not only does this not happen, but he is sentenced to hell in spite of his rule-abiding life—he is left to process that fear alone, seemingly without any kind of emotional support system. While Jinsu’s villainous actions are his own, his story is also, in part, a cautionary tale about what happens when parents neglect their children, and kids grow up without love and support. Parental love is also the weapon Jinsu uses against Detective Jin to ensure that the world continue on with the New Truth in power following his death.
It’s not a stretch to assume a Hellbound Season 2 would continue to lean into the theme of parental love as a powerful force for both good and bad. Not only is it a major part of Season 1, but it is also a major theme in Yeon’s live-action feature debut, Train to Busan. The 2016 film follows emotionally neglectful dad Seo Seokwoo as he tries to save himself and his daughter, Suan, in the aftermath of a fast-moving, deadly zombie outbreak in Korea. Ultimately, Seokwoo not only makes the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter, suffering a zombie bite in the process of ensuring his daughter’s survival, but is also able to fight off the effects of the virus long enough to throw himself off of the train that will bring Suan to relative safety. Given Yeon’s interest in the theme, it’s likely that, should Hellbound Season 2 happen, an exploration of parental love would continue as one of the series’ central themes.
Now all we need is a Hellbound Season 2 greenlight…
Do you want a second season for Hellbound? What do you think it would be about? Let us know in the comments below…