What Happened to Earth in Black Knight, Explained

Image Credit: Kim Jin-young/Netflix

When the South Korean sci-fi action drama ‘Black Knight’ begins, Earth has become a desolate planet. Formerly lush and full-of-life areas of the world have turned into barren wastelands. The human population has dwindled to a critical level, and there are drastic shortages of food, water, medicine, and even oxygen. In this seemingly dying world, people still have found ways to discriminate. A group known as the refugees has access to almost no resources, forcing many of them to resort to violence to acquire life-saving and sustaining provisions. The eponymous Black Knights or deliverymen are tasked to bring people these supplies. If you are wondering what happened to Earth in ‘Black Knight,’ we got you covered. SPOILERS AHEAD.

How Did Earth Become a Wasteland?

While there are TV shows where human actions have caused the destruction of the planet, ‘Black Knight,’ developed from the namesake webtoon by Lee Yun-kyun, is not a series like that. However, as we later learn, human greed plays a role in keeping Earth uninhabitable. At the start of the series, a voiceover explains exactly what happened to Earth. Forty Years before the series timeline, presumably in 2031, a comet collided with Earth. In the resulting cataclysm, most continents have sunk under the oceans, and the Korean Peninsula, which was brimming with life before the comet, has devolved into a desert. And the air has seemingly become toxic and non-breathable.

Only 1% of the population in the region has survived. As a result, the society of before the comet no longer exists. However, even though it is on the brink of extinction, humanity has found ways to discriminate against the less fortunate. A government exists in this post-apocalyptic world, with the President serving as the head of state. However, it appears to share its power with Cheonmyeong Group, the most powerful private organization in the peninsula. Established by Ryu Jae-jin, Cheonmyeong mines an element known as oxyanium and then uses a gigantic air core to convert oxyanium into oxygen. People use respirators when they are outside.

The scarcity of resources has led to the establishment of a new social order. There are three “legal” groups of the population: General, Special, and Core Districts. QR codes are used to differentiate between them. The society is structured like a pyramid, with the General at the bottom and the Core at the top. The Core District is where the elites of the society reside. It even has an artificial sky, and the atmosphere is controlled there through ground-breaking technology.

There is also a fourth group: the refugees. Not residing in any of the districts, they rarely have access to resources. As a result, many of them have become hunters who steal and plunder from others. The Black Knights or Deliverymen often face these people during their job runs. The post-apocalyptic world has also seen the rise of new diseases. Ryu Seok, the primary antagonist of the series, is dying of one such disease, and it serves as the reason for most of his reprehensible actions.

Image Credit: Kim Jin-young/Netflix

There is a new subspecies of humanity known as the mutants. Born to parents who work in the oxyanium mines, this group of young men and women appear to have metallic bones and can heal at a remarkable speed. Toward the end of the series, 5-8, the legendary Deliveryman, deduces that the mobile machines that are supposed to purify the air are polluting it. He realizes that the Cheonmyeong became so powerful because of its production of oxygen. If the air becomes cleaner, they lose their biggest source of revenue.

In the season finale, three months pass after the death of Ryu Seok and the fall of Cheonmyeong. The discriminatory social structure is undone. People are moved to the newly constructed District A in order of their date of registration. The government promises to reform the residential and oxygen supply systems. As the season ends, the characters observe that the air has gotten cleaner and the sky has gotten clearer.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Black Knight Filmed?