'Hellbound' Ending Explained: Does the Baby Really Die At The End Of The Netflix Show?

Hellbound, Netflix's new K-drama that was slated to follow in the footsteps of runaway hit Squid Game, has managed to overtake the top ranking of the global phenomenon.

The gripping new show was reported to be the world's most watched Netflix television series on November 20, according to data from FlixPatrol.

Hellbound topped the streaming ratings in 84 countries within 24 hours of its premiere on November 19.

The transfixing new K-drama from Yeon Sang-ho, the visionary director of Train to Busan fame, features a dizzying concoction of haunting visuals with a cinematic, fantasy/graphic novel-like feel, dark characters and an engrossing plot with a shocking ending.

The show's dystopian setting sees people be randomly sentenced to death and transported to hell because of their "sinful" ways.

Be it a child or adult, each victim is issued a merciless "decree" by a ghostly presence known as "The Prophet Angel" that appears unannounced, stating the date and time the person will die and be sent to hell. Their death could take place anywhere from within seconds to several years later.

When that deadline arrives, a "demonstration" takes place, which sees a trio of giant beast-like, dark figures emerge out of nowhere to publicly execute the person and burn their bodies to ashes before dragging their spirits to hell.

These demonstrations are God's way of telling people they "must become more righteous," explains Jeong Jin-soo (played by Korean actor Yoo Ah-in, known from Burning, #Alive and other Korean films), the chairman of The New Truth, a religious cult that later gains control over the masses.

But what does the ending of Hellbound mean, exactly? Here, we break down the show's finale.

**WARNING: From this point onwards, this article contains some major Hellbound spoilers.**

A still from "Hellbound" on Netflix.
A "demonstration" taking place on "Hellbound" in Netflix. Netflix

The New World Order Turned Upside

The New Truth rises to power seemingly overnight following the first-ever televised demonstration. Having witnessed the horrors of the first public death ceremony, several viewers literally bow down to the doctrine preached by The New Truth.

The cult gains followers and a disturbing new world order is established under the ruling of The New Truth, whose leaders become a law unto themselves.

Fast forward several years and this new ruling, which says all those who receive a decree have been sinful during their lives, comes into question after an infant is issued a death decree.

A still from "Hellbound" on Netflix.
A person being given their death decree by a ghostly figure in "Hellbound" on Netflix. Netflix

Bae Young-jae (played by Park Jeong-min)—a television producer assigned to edit a campaign documentary being put together for The New Truth—and his wife Song So-hyun (played by Won Jin-ah) find their worlds ripped apart just a day after their baby is born.

While recovering at the hospital after giving birth, So-hyun sneaks into the intensive care unit (where her yet-to-named baby is being kept) to record a video to send to her husband, who had seen their child for "less than 10 minutes" before he had to return to work.

But his wife is shocked to see The Prophet Angel appear while filming her baby on her phone. The angel says: "Song So-hyun's baby. In three days at 9:30 p.m. you will be going to hell."

The Song So-hyun character in Hellbound.
Song So-hyun (played by Won Jin-ah), whose baby is issued a death decree a day after being born. Netflix

Exposing The New Truth

The second half of the series focuses on the couple's efforts to make sense of this unfathomable newborn death decree, which is the first of its kind in the world ruled by The New Truth.

The unexpected anomaly inevitably throws the core doctrine of The New Truth into question, since it would have been impossible for this newborn to have committed a sin during its 1 day-long life before receiving the decree.

The New Truth leaders soon find out about the infant's looming death as So-hyun visits their headquarters in a desperate search for answers, ultimately believing they could somehow help protect her baby.

But as expected, the cult leaders attempt to keep the news of this baby's fate under wraps (knowing full well what it could mean for the group should news get out), snatching the baby from So-hyun and locking the doors of the building.

New Truth staff in "Hellbound" on Netflix.
Staff members of the New Truth movement seen in "Hellbound" on Netflix. Netflix

So-hyun manages to reclaim her baby and escape The New Truth headquarters with the help of her husband and Sodo, a mysterious organization that Young-jae discovers has been helping victims avoid having their demonstrations be televised, having their deaths go under the radar (i.e. make it appear like they'd gone missing).

Sodo is led by Min Hye-jin (played by Kim Hyun-joo), the lawyer who represented Park Jeong-ja (played by Kim Shin-rok), a struggling mother of two who was the first to have her demonstration be broadcast live from her house. Her ashes were kept sealed in a glass enclosure at the site of her home, which had since been made into a museum for The New Truth.

Hye-jin—who was previously thought to have been killed off earlier by members of The Arrowhead (another cult group supporting The New Truth) after she began investigating the disturbing history of The New Truth—has been running Sodo following the death of her mother. Hye-jin's mom was killed in the crossfire while the lawyer was running from The Arrowhead.

But upon learning about Young-jae's baby, Hye-jin says their baby's death needs to be publicly broadcast to show the world that The New Truth has been brainwashing people to think they're being sent to hell for committing sin.

After much initial opposition, the couple make the painful decision to allow Sodo to broadcast their baby's demonstration for the good of mankind and expose the corruption behind The New Truth.

The Bae Young-jae character in Hellbound.
Bae Young-jae (played by Park Jeong-min), the television producer assigned to edit a campaign documentary being put together for The New Truth. Netflix

So, Does the Baby Really Die?

Hye-jin and the couple soon find themselves in a race against time as The New Truth leaders desperately try to thwart their plans to broadcast the baby's demonstration.

They escape to a hideaway in a remote residential structure, where the baby's fateful death date and time arrive, surrounded by a crowd of people.

The three beastly figures arrive like clockwork and head straight for the infant. Hye-jin attempts to protect the baby before getting thrust aside by a beast, which leaves her unconscious.

After somehow managing to escape the advances of the dark figures, the baby's parents shield their child, forming a tight cave around the newborn with their bodies tied together.

The three beasts then stretch out their hands to burn the baby, which turns the parents' bodies into ashes.

As Hye-jin later regains consciousness, she hears the low cry of a baby—who was only referred to as "Toughie" and "our little fighter" by the parents—and finds the infant is alive amid the silhouettes of the parents' burnt bodies.

But the baby being alive was only the penultimate cliffhanger. The last five minutes of the final episode reveals an even bigger plot twist—the ashes of Jung-ja (the victim behind the first-ever televised demonstration) is seen thrashing into a fully formed body and breaking out the glass enclosure. Laying naked on the floor of her home, Jung-ja looks up with eyes wide open before the scene blacks out.

The show's mind-boggling final scene sparks a host of many avenues to be explored, including what the new world order will look like now that people have witnessed a newborn escaping death.

And what will it mean if all those who died and were sent to hell following a death decree come back to life like Jung-ja (including former chairman of The New Truth Jin-soo, who was also sent to hell after being issued a decree 20 years earlier)? Will this mean hell on Earth? Or a new revolution?

Hopefully these and several other burning questions will be answered in a second season of Hellbound.

Hellbound is available to stream on Netflix.

The Min Hye-jin character in Hellbound.
Min Hye-jin (played by Kim Hyun-joo), the lawyer who represented the first victim who had their "demonstration" broadcast live. Netflix

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts