Black Knight Ending, Explained: Is Ryu Seok Dead?

Cho Ui-seok’s ‘Black Knight’ is a Netflix sci-fi series based on a webtoon of the same name by Lee Yun-kyun. This South Korean drama stars Kim Woo-bin as its protagonist alongside Esom, Kang You-Seok, and Song Seung-heon, among others. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with air pollution where people rely on oxygen and other supply deliveries to stay alive.

Legendary deliveryman 5-8 navigates this highly classist society with a corrupt government. In his pursuit of justice, he crosses paths with Sa-wol, a refugee who aspires to be just like 5-8. Together, 5-8 and Sa-wol, aided by Major Seol-ah, try to protect their world’s most vulnerable links. If you’re curious to know more about this dystopian nightmarish world and where it leads the famed 5-8 and newbie Sa-wol, here is everything you need to know about the ending of ‘Black Knight.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Black Knight Plot Synopsis

Far into the future, a comet collides with the Earth and submerges every continent into the sea. The Korean peninsula turns into a desert wasteland where people wear masks fitted with air cores that convert oxyanium to oxygen. A gigantic air core resides at the center of the governed community, where the population exists in three classes, General, Special, and Core Districts. The rest get classified as refugees and live their lives on the outside. Sa-wol, one such refugee, secretly lives inside the gated community with the Jeong sisters, Seul-ah, and Defence Intelligence Major, Seol-ah.

Meanwhile, deliveryman 5-8 drives across the desert and fends off hunters regularly on the job to bring the district citizens their living necessities. While off-duty, 5-8 helps out the destitute refugees and organizes a secretive, hidden rebellion with the help of some other deliverymen and refugees. The Government and overpowered oxygen supplier company, Cheonmyeong Group, are devising a relocation plan. However, Cheonmyeong Chairman Ryu Jae-jin and his megalomaniac son, Ryu Seok, the CEO of Cheonmyeong, disagree on the plan’s specifics due to their clashing moral opinions.

After a break-in at the Jeong sisters’ house, Sa-wol watches Seul-ah die in front of his eyes. Devastated by her death and wracked with survival guilt, Sa-wol leaves the city and crashes at refugee mechanic “Gramps” place. By now, 5-8 has seen Sa-wol’s metal bones due to an injury and realizes Sa-wol, unbeknownst to his own self, is a mutant. On the other hand, Seol-ah investigates the murder of her sister and suspects the involvement of unknown criminals responsible for kidnapping kids in the General District.

The key player behind the kidnappings, deliveryman 5-7, starts to doubt the ethics of his actions and wants to quit. 5-8 and his team use a refugee as bait and discover Cheonmyeong has been using the kidnapped kids for human experimentation. However, when 5-8 tries to learn more about their plan from 5-7, the man behind the kidnappings, Ryu Seok, remotely kills 5-7. Following 5-7s death, Ryu Seok finds himself in need of a distraction for his plan’s second phase and decides to hold a public competition for the next deliveryman recruitment.

When Sa-wol hears the news, he asks 5-8 to help him train for the competition. As such, 5-8 and his deliverymen friends oversee Sa-wol’s prep in their secret base, an old physical training facility. While Sa-wol competes to become the next deliveryman, the tension between Ryu Seok and his father grows. While The Chairman thinks every refugee deserves a spot in their relocation plan, Ryu Seok wants to access personal data about the refugees for the selection process and kill the rest.

Sa-wol continues to qualify through the last round, where he faces off against a former soldier from the General district. Ryu Seok uses this opportunity to broadcast the match in all the refugee district squares. However, after Sa-wol wins the last round, multiple suicide bombers explode up refugee district gatherings. At the same time, Sa-wol unknowingly reveals an injury to the audience and confirms his status as a mutant.

Sa-wol becomes deliveryman 5-7, while 5-8 and Seol-ah team up and catch Ryu Seok’s second in command, Mr. Oh, red-handed. Meanwhile, The President makes Ryu Seok accept the government’s relocation plan, and Ryu Seok commences a physical examination for all refugees. Cheonmyeong sets up vaccination centers in the refugee districts, and Major Seol-ha goes to The Chairman with damning evidence against Ryu Seok. Soon, multiple refugees start dropping dead in their districts due to the Cheonmyeong poisonous vaccine. At a refugee district, Sa-wol attempts to save his refugee friend, Useless, but Cheonmyeong soldiers overpower Sa-wol and take him to Ryu Seok in the Core District.

Black Knight Ending: Does 5-8 Save Sa-wol?

Though Sa-wol doesn’t know much about his family, Gramps used to know Sa-wol’s father, an oxyanium miner. The mines are notorious for having a high concentration of radioactive material. As such, Sa-wol’s father gets exposed to radiation, which later leads to the birth of a mutated son with fast healing and metal bones. Until Sa-wol’s mutant discovery, the general public doesn’t believe in mutants, considering them to be myths. However, Ryu Seok and his band of researchers know mutants exist but have never seen one as healthy as Sa-wol.

Ryu Seok suffers from some sort of disease likely caused by the apocalyptic environment. In pursuit of a cure, Ryu Seok kidnaps kids from general districts whose parents worked in the mines. He runs human experimentation on these kids to find a cure for his disease but has been unsuccessful so far. Therefore, when he discovers Sa-wol is a full-fledged mutant with metal bones, he has his men kidnap Sa-wol and run tests on him.

Mr. Oh’s team extracts mutated stem cells from Sa-wol and experiments with them against a test candidate with similar symptoms to Ryu Seok. After the examination proves to be a success, Ryu Seok undergoes a blood transfusion with Sa-wol. Meanwhile, Gramps provides 5-8 with a blueprint to the underground Core district and 58 breaks into the district through the computerized ceiling. Major Seol-ha’s soldiers back rogue deliverymen as they storm the Cheonmyeong Group headquarters.

5-8 makes it to the final lab and finds Ryu Seok. Ryu Seok holds a gun to a passed-out Sa-wol’s head, knowing 5-8 cares about the kid on some level. Eventually, the two end up in a shootout. After Ryu Seok refuses to show any remorse for his actions, 5-8 shoots him and leaves the building with Sa-wol.

Is Ryu Seok Dead?

Before Ryu Seok leaves for his blood transfusion with Sa-wol, he visits his father, The Chairman, after Ryu Jae-jin signs off Cheonmyeong Group’s oxygen and delivery rights to the government. By doing so, he leaves Cheonmyeong and his son, Ryu Seok, without any power. As a result, Ryu Seok kills his father and plans a coup with the Defense Minister. He announces the deliverymen as terrorists and implements heavy surveillance around the city. He also sends men after The President to seize power from her.

As such, toward the end of the show, Ryu Seok has complete power over society and government, with only some deliverymen and Major Seol-ha’s soldiers contesting him. While 5-8’s team attacks the Cheonmyeong building, Seol-ha leaves to rescue The President. After the Major arrests the Defense Minister for treason, Ryu Seok realizes his power has steadily slipped out of his hands. Therefore, when 5-8 comes for him at the lab, Ryu Seok decides to overload the Air Core system in the center of the Core district.

By doing so, Ryu Seok wants to ensure such a luxurious place as the Core District does not fall into the hands of the refugees. He believes the refugees to be inferior and unworthy of living. After 5-8 shoots Ryu Seok in the chest, Ryu Seok tries to put a bullet in his own head so that he control his death. However, 5-8 knows Ryu Seok’s crimes haven’t afforded him the choice of a satisfying end at his own hands. Therefore, 5-8 shoots Ryu Seok in the head as revenge for every innocent life he has taken. In the end, 5-8 leaves with Sa-wol, and Ryu Seok’s body blows up in flames when the Air Core gets overloaded.

Does The World Become Habitable Again?

During Sa-wol’s first day as a deliveryman, purification tanks make their rounds across General district neighborhoods. As this happens, 5-8 asks all deliverymen to check out the emissions let out by the tanks near them. By doing so, the deliverymen discover that these purification tanks that belong to the Cheonmyeong Group have been emitting harmful and toxic substances into the air.

Throughout the show, Gramps tries to grow several plants outside the districts in his little greenhouse. He also analyzes the dirt from different places to see if greenery can grow again. The air pollution in this changed world is very extreme. People can’t breathe for long periods of time without their masks in any district other than the Core. However, 5-8 realizes some of this pollution is fabricated.

Since Cheonmyeong draws all its money, power, and influence from supplying oxygen, it doesn’t want the air to get cleaner. As such, in order to counteract the natural healing of the atmosphere, Ryu Seok sends Cheonmyeong so-called purification tanks to worsen the air in the General district. After Ryu Seok’s death, the government allows nature to heal on its own. The air gets cleaner, allowing the sun to shine more brightly. Although things are still nowhere near perfect, Cheonmyeong’s downfall brings about a slight change. The series ends on a hopeful note with a sense that things will get better.

Read More: When and Where Does Black Knight Take Place?