‘The Devil Judge,’ directed by Jung Kyu Choi, is a South Korean crime drama show that revolves around a Judge with unorthodox methods of bringing justice within an inherently biased judicial system. The show is set in dystopian Seoul, South Korea, where society has plummeted into a grave divide between the classes. Amidst growing anti-rich sentiments within the masses and vice versa, a Live Court Show is launched where renowned ruthless Judge Kang Yo-han will deliver justice on live TV based on the people’s votes. However, as the show goes on, Yo-han plays his own game and goes up against the country’s most elite with his judicial panel member, Kim Ga-on.
Throughout the show, the duo deals with their own tumultuous relationship while facing off against Jung Sun-a, a powerful woman from Yo-han’s past. If you’re curious to see what this game reveals about Yo-han and where it leads him and Ga-on, here is everything you need to know about the ending of season one of ‘The Devil Judge.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
The Devil Judge Season 1 Recap
Years after a chaotic virus overtook the country, the government, headed by President Heo Joong-Se, is working toward bringing the state back to its former glory. The influential Social Responsibility Foundation, working with several business and political personalities, collects donations from the masses to provide housing solutions for the poor. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice backs some media groups to launch a new judicial method with Korea’s most cutthroat Judge, Kang Yo-han, in the center. The country’s rapidly growing focus on judicial reforms and unconventional approach to it concern an esteemed Justice, Min Jung-Ho. As a result, he plants his mentee, Judge Kim Ga-on, on Yo-han’s judicial panel to collect intel about the man and his ways.
Initially, Ga-on suspects Yo-han to be corrupt like other officials but realizes that the latter goes out of his way to even the playing field against the privileged parties. Yet, Yo-han’s illegal means continue to bother Ga-on, who investigates his boss’ past. However, after Yo-han goes after the Justice Minister, Cha Kyung-hee’s son, for his second public trial, a bombing occurs in his office, injuring Ga-on. As such, Ga-on ends up boarding at Yo-han’s mansion for a while, given the location’s added security. While Yo-han brings Cha’s son, Lee Young-min, to justice for his habitual assault crimes, Ga-on snoops around Yo-han’s house.
Through Ga-on’s snooping, he discovers that Yo-han, Mr. Kang’s son born out of marriage, grew up with an abusive father and a loving half-brother, Issac. He also learns disturbing things about Yo-han’s childhood and starts suspecting him of murdering his own older brother, who died in a cathedral fire and shared a stark resemblance with Ga-on in physical features. Soon, Ga-on realizes Yo-han has gone after Young-min to get to Minister Cha and isolate her from the rest of the SRF group.
Eventually, Ga-on starts to see Yo-han’s side of the story after learning the truth about Issac’s traumatic death and becomes a more trusted companion to Yo-han. The pair continue to work together and live in Yo-han’s guarded house beside his niece, Elijah, who takes a liking to Ga-on. Soon, Yo-han realizes that the SRF’s director, Jung Sun-a, used to be a former maid at his mansion who was in love with him. The pair have a complicated past since Sun-a used to steal from his family, and Yo-han compelled her to jump out of a window after catching her in the act once. Sun-a, who secretly controls the SRF chairman, warns Yo-han to stop looking into the Foundation’s star project, the Dream Base.
Nevertheless, Yo-han persists and publicly challenges the SRF after masterfully avoiding Cha’s failed attempt to uncover his previous perjury. As a result, Yo-han creates chaos within the SRF group, with the parties trying to turn on each other. Ultimately, Sun-a puts a rest to the ordeal by using Chairman Seo as a scapegoat and a martyr, overtaking the position of Chairwoman. Moreover, the government has increased policing across Seoul, and some political aggressors like Juk Chang take their violence against minorities to the streets. Likewise, the government spreads fake news of the virus’ return to control the public through fear.
Simultaneously, Officer Yoon Soo-hyun, Ga-on’s childhood best friend and the love of his life, digs into Yo-han’s past, particularly Issac’s death and the Cathedral fire. However, as her investigation starts to harvest results, she dies after getting caught in a crossfire between Ga-on and his enemies. Eventually, things come to a head when Yo-han decides to sentence Juk Chang to a violent death sentence in his game against the Foundation. Ga-on, unable to stand by Yo-han’s side anymore, reveals that the Judge has been tampering with every Live Court Show trial to the public.
Although Yo-han faces consequences for the same, he also gains public adoration once he states that the judicial system is unfairly stacked in favor of the rich and wants to deliver true justice. Nevertheless, the strain between Yo-han and Ga-on deepens as Jung-ho compels Ga-on to consider the possibility that Yo-han is behind Soo-hyun’s murder. The same leads Ga-on down a dark path, where he plays into Sun-a’s plan and accuses Yo-han of murdering Soo-hyun. Consequently, Ga-on discovers the actual truth behind Issac’s death.
The Devil Judge Ending: Did Yo-han Kill His Brother, Issac?
Yo-han’s involvement in Kang Issac’s murder is a source of suspicion throughout the show. Given Yo-han’s troublesome upbringing and stories of his odd behavior in school, it’s easy for most people, including Ga-on, to jump to conclusions. Furthermore, before Issac’s death, the man had pledged to donate his entire fortune to SRF to help his fellow citizens. As such, since Yo-han dissolves that donation immediately after Issac’s death, it paints him in a suspicious light.
Still, Yo-han shares the truth about Issac’s death with Ga-on early on after the latter accuses him of murdering his brother. On the day of the cathedral fire, Issac and his wife attended a ceremony at church alongside others from the SRF, including President Heo and Minister Cha. Once the fire broke out, every SRF member rushed to save their own life without looking back or caring about Issac. Minister Cha even literally tramples over young Elijah’s legs in pursuit of her survival without caring about crippling the child.
Yo-han witnesses the entire event as he gets caught in the crowd, trying to return to the church to save his family. Growing up, Issac was the only person kind to Yo-han and deeply cared about his little brother. Therefore, Yo-han has the utmost respect and love for Issac, and watching him die breaks something inside of the former. Worse yet, after Yo-han makes it out of the burned church with his niece, the same people who left Issac to die talk about him as if they cared about him. Their hypocrisy fuels Yo-han to pull back on the donations and unveil the truth behind the SRF.
Still, even though Yo-han didn’t kill his brother, the truth behind Issac’s death is much darker. While investigating the cathedral fire, Soo-hyun comes across a man named Jung Joseph, who was in charge of the surveillance in the building. After her death, Ga-on follows in her footsteps and learns that Yo-han bribed Joseph into handing over footage of the cathedral on the day of the fire. Due to the suspicious activity, Ga-on assumes the surveillance footage had evidence about Yo-han starting the fire, which he wants to destroy.
Near the end, when Ga-on accuses Yo-han of killing Soo-hyun and gets him arrested, Sun-a reveals the surveillance footage to Ga-on. Yo-han tries to fight viciously against it, but to no avail, and has to watch Ga-on realize that Elijah accidentally caused the cathedral fire that killed her parents. The chilling truth, paired with the revelation that Jung-Ho, who works for Sun-a, has been tricking Ga-on since day one to frame Yo-han, makes the young Judge realize he was used as a pawn this entire time.
Sun-a succeeds in taking her revenge against Yo-han for mistreating her in their youth and has him imprisoned. In the meantime, Ga-on realizes he must right his past wrongs and embarks on the mission to rescue Yo-han by exposing the Foundation. Employing Mr. Go’s help, Ga-on creates a plan to uncover the truth behind SRF’s Dream Base Project.
What Is Happening In The Dream Base?
The Dream Base, run by citizen donations to the Foundation, is a project where the government installs housing facilities for the poorer Souel demographic. The government and the SRF market it as a free solution to the growing homelessness and poverty problem, in which they are providing care and housing to the city’s lower classes. However, Yo-han tells Ga-on that the same is only a front for their real purpose: turning the Dream Bases into concentration camps to eradicate poor people from the city.
Nonetheless, Yo-han doesn’t have substantial evidence about the SRF’s conspiracy. Part of the reason why he goes after Minister Cha and then the rest of the Foundation is to get to the truth behind the Dream Base Project. After his arrest, Ga-on infiltrates the hospital center in one of the bases with Mr. Go’s help and blends into the area by pretending to be another hospital worker. With a small camera, Ga-on unveils a more menacing conspiracy than anyone expects.
When President Heo spreads lies about the virus returning to the city’s slum area, he uses it as an excuse to abduct trucks full of poor and homeless people from the poorer part of town. Later, he used these people to run human tests for foreign countries, like Russia and Japan, to run clinical trials on their vaccines. Because of the worldwide pandemic, several countries pay handsomely for such tests that Korea executes under Heo’s rule. Even worse, after the kidnapped people die, Heo and the others harvest their organs to sell and make more profit.
Ga-on catches conversations about the same on his undercover mission and gathers visual footage of people, including the elderly and kids, dying in Dream Base hospitals. Later, some of the hospital staff help him escape the institution because they are held captive and forced to perform inhuman tasks themselves. Since the government has taken total control over media outlets and social media, Ga-on has prepared a highly dangerous plan to broadcast the truth to the masses.
After strapping himself to a bomb, Ga-on traps Jung-Ho on the day of his inauguration as the Chief Justice. Jung-Ho has unwittingly played a crucial role in Soo-hyun’s death, for which Ga-on holds him responsible. He plans to blow the Supreme Court up and kill Jung-Ho in a terrorist attack. Afterward, Mr. Go will email big media outlets from Ga-on’s address. The big news about the Chief Justice’s death, promising high revenue, will compel stations to showcase the attached footage, unveiling Heo and his accomplices. Ultimately, Ga-on’s self-sacrificial plans do not come to fruition in the face of a better, more just alternative.
Is Kang Yo-han Dead?
Shortly after Yo-han’s arrest, news about his death inside the prison breaks out. Considering Yo-han’s profession and reputation as the most ruthless Judge in town, most prisons are filled with people with a vendetta against him. The one he gets sent to is not different and holds Juk Chang and his goons, who have a fresh bone to pick with Yo-han. Similarly, the prison warden also despises Yo-han because he got demoted after being used as a pawn to uncover Cha’s corrupt methods.
The fact that President Heo wants Yo-han dead is the added cherry on top. As a result, when news comes out about Yo-han dying after getting stabbed in the prison, Ga-on, although shaken, is not surprised. Still, Yo-han’s death is actually only a ruse he crafts to escape from the prison. After everyone considers him to be dead, it’s easy for Yo-han to return to the Supreme Court in the knick of time to prevent Ga-on from executing his fatal plan. Instead, Yo-han has a different climax in mind.
Although the government has overtaken control over the media, they forgot to shut down the Dike app used for Live Court Show for viewers to vote on the final verdict. Through the app, Yo-han broadcasts the final trial of his career against President Heo, his accomplices who control the media, and SRF Chairwoman Sun-a. The group has collected in Yo-han’s court to celebrate his passing, but the same inevitably marks their end.
Yo-han goes live on the Dike app and holds a trial against Heo and the others, showcasing the evidence against them that Ga-on collected. Until Yo-han makes his presence known, Heo is under the impression that the former is dead. Therefore, he’s completely unprepared to fight back against him. Yo-han has set up bombs inside his courtroom and, with the citizens’ help, starts a countdown to the ultimate blast that will kill Heo and the others for their crimes.
Furthermore, Yo-han also enters the courtroom to die alongside his show. To further his revenge against them for the day of the cathedral fire, Yo-han allows one of them to live if they can leave the courtroom before anyone else. The same results in chaotic infighting until Sun-a shoots the President and then herself. As the countdown toward everyone’s demise nears, Ga-on rushes into the room to talk Yo-han out of staying inside the bomb chamber.
Nonetheless, Yo-han remains in the courtroom and pushes Ga-on away as the room blows up to smithereens on live TV. Everyone watches Yo-han die, and Ga-on grieves his death. Yet when he returns to the mansion, he finds Elijah gone and comes across blueprints of the court in Yo-han’s room. Yo-han planned a secret last-minute escape for himself so that citizens would watch him die and he could escape from the limelight.
Yo-han has been fighting against the country’s injustice and plotting against those abusing their power for years. Therefore, with the SRF and Heo gone, Yo-han wishes to start his life anew with his niece somewhere far away. He visits Ga-on one last time, essentially handing down the mantle to him before disappearing forever. Yo-han moves to Switzerland with Elijah, where the two can continue to be a family and work on Elijah’s mobile recovery.
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