The Netflix Kdrama ‘Gyeongseong Creature’ presents the story of two people from different backgrounds with a shared enemy in common. The show is set in the scene of Joseon during the 1940s, in Gyeongseong, where the country’s rebellious sentiments against Japanese imperial forces grow in full force. Jang Tae-sang is a wealthy businessman who reluctantly becomes privy to the horrifying human experiments unraveling in his town’s Ongseong Hospital. Likewise, Yoon Chae-ok, a Manchurian Sleuth’s search for her missing mother, brings her into town.
After the pair’s paths cross and remain intertwined as they stand off against the Ongseong Hospital and the monsters within its walls, their tentative partnership blooms. Thus, considering the electric chemistry between Chae-ok and Tae-sang and the palpable romantic tension surrounding their characters throughout the show, viewers must wonder what becomes of their relationship by the end. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Tae-sang and Chae-ok’s Baggage
As the show starts, Tae-sang and Chae-ok are stuck in very specific, if drastically different, points of their lives. Tae-sang runs a lucrative business and wears the title of the King of Information in his town, with valuable possessions and even more valuable contacts. However, the same wasn’t always the reality for the man. As an orphaned Joseon boy living under Japan’s occupation, the man had to fight tooth and nail for his spot at the table.
Therefore, Tae-sang is incredibly protective of his position and its afforded power. Since his mother’s cruel death at the hands of Japanese soldiers left him alone and powerless, he has had to learn to worry about his self-preservation from a young age. As such, the same becomes an unshakable habit. While his friend, like Jun-taek, fights for Joseon’s freedom as a part of the covert rebellion group, Tae-sang avoids any missteps with the Japanese authorities.
For Tae-sang, his business and wealth, which protects him and his friends, is the most prized thing, so much so that he prefers to remain blind to the suffering of his fellow Joseon people. Sure, he lends a generous hand wherever possible, especially through his House of Golden Treasure, but he never goes out of his way for fear of losing his life’s work.
Similarly, at her story’s beginning, Chae-ok has always resigned herself to a certain reality. Chae-ok’s mother, Seong-Sim, went missing ten years ago. As a result, the woman and her father have been looking for Seong-Sim for almost a decade. Before their search began, all Chae-ok wanted was to lead a regular, happy life. Instead, her days became a constant onslaught of deadly adventures and a perpetual disappointment at her mother’s prolonged disappearance.
Thus, upon their first meeting, both Tae-sang and Chae-ok are reluctant to open up to the other person since each has been pushed to a precipice within their circumstances. Tae-sang is confronting the reality that the local Commissioner may take away his pawnshop. Likewise, Chae-ok has finally gotten a lead about her mother— namely a Japanese artist, Sachimoto, who was the last person to see Seong-Sim alive. If Tae-sang loses his shop, he’ll be rendered powerless, and Chae-ok will be back to square one if her lead ends up false.
Nevertheless, neither Tae-sang nor Chae-ok can deny the pull they feel toward each other. Furthermore, their joint mission to infiltrate the Ongseong Hospital in search of their respective missing persons compels them in close proximity, where they have no choice but to trust each other. While their attraction has been a factor from the start, their time inside the hospital, where they undergo shared trauma, becomes an invaluable bonding moment for them.
Chae-ok’s spirit inspires Tae-sang to take action rather than remain an unmoving bystander in people’s suffering. He begins to overcome his self-preservatory habits through her insistence on caring about others. Likewise, Tae-sang’s caring disposition toward Chae-ok fills a space in the woman’s life, who has never had someone unequivocally put her first since her mother’s disappearance. Consequently, their feelings for each other solidify when the man sacrifices himself for Chae-ok and the others’ escape.
A Chance at New Beginnings
Eventually, after Tae-sang and Chae-ok’s respective escape from the Hospital, they naturally fall back together. In a rare moment of tenderness within Tae-sang’s pawnshop vault, they both allow themselves to lean on the other, expressing their affections and fears. Although both make their feelings clear with sincere words and kisses, their situation doesn’t allow them to surrender to a happily ever after.
Chae-ok has learned the truth about what happened to her mother inside the Ongseong Hospital under Lieutenant Kato’s rule. Kato experimented upon Seong-Sim, known as Seishin, her Japanese name, and exposed her body to a parasite named Najin. As a result, Chae-ok’s mother has mutated into a bloodthirsty monster. Since the woman can’t save her mother any longer, she decides to do the next best thing: get revenge.
Consequently, Chae-ok’s impulsive actions, assassinating a high-ranking Japanese doctor, Ichiro, in broad daylight, land her in trouble. Even though Tae-sang manages to save her from a deadly fate within Ongseong Hospital, bombing the establishment in the process, Chae-ok still remains a fugitive by Japanese law. Due to the same reason, the couple decides to run away to Shanghai together to start a life together, even if on the run.
Chae-ok attempts to give Tae-sang a way out of a life beside a criminal, but Tae-sang refuses to lose her now that he finally has a chance at a happy life. As their story nears an end, both are ready to stay by the other’s side regardless of the complications. Tae-sang and Chae-ok each offer the possibility of a better future, something they have only dreamed of but never deigned to hope for. Nevertheless, their future together crumbles after the enemies catch up to them, resulting in one final battle.
Chae-ok’s Deadly Predicament
In the end, Lady Maeda, the mastermind behind the evil prospering in Gyeongseong, sends her warriors after Tae-sang and Chae-ok to prevent them from skipping town. In the ensuing battle, Tae-sang and Chae-ok face their enemies head-on and attempt to keep each other safe, often putting the other’s safety above the danger staring them in the face. Still, Maeda’s warriors easily outnumber them.
Worse yet, Seishin, Kato’s monster, arrives at the scene. Even though Chae-ok’s mother kills her daughter’s enemies, she can’t overcome her bloodthirst against Tae-sang. As a result, the monster lunges for the man, only to catch her daughter instead, who refuses to allow Seishin to hurt Tae-sang. As such, Chae-ok bleeds out to her death, pierced by her mother, using her last moments to beg Seishin to spare her beloved’s life.
Nevertheless, after Tae-sang mourns the devastating loss, Seishin returns for her daughter’s body and attempts to revive her. Seishin transfers her Najin parasite to her daughter’s body. Although the transfer likely kills Seishin, it brings Chae-ok back to life. Ultimately, Chae-ok and Tae-sang don’t end up together by the end of season one. Yet, both are alive and aware of the other’s love for them.
Furthermore, considering Tae-sang wouldn’t have left Chae-ok’s body alone to rot, it’s likely that the man either allowed or witnessed Seishin carrying her daughter’s dead body away. Therefore, it’s possible that it isn’t simply wishful thinking when Tae-sang waits for Chae-ok to return to him outside his pawnshop months after her death. Thus, the duo likely has a tumultuous future ahead of them, but there’s still hope for their relationship to survive.