Hellbound is a South Korean dark fantasy streaming television series directed by Yeon Sang-ho, based on his own webtoon of the same name. An original Netflix release about supernatural beings appearing out of nowhere to condemn people to Hell, the series stars Yoo Ah-in, Kim Hyun-joo, Park Jeong-min, Won Jin-ah and Yang Ik-june.
The pilot episode for Hellbound premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the “Primetime program of TV series” on September 9, 2021, and became the first Korean drama to make it to the festival. It was released on Netflix on November 19, 2021, and became the world’s most-watched Netflix series the next day, surpassing Squid Game, released two months prior.
Hellbound takes place in 2022–27 in South Korea. An otherworldly face called an angel suddenly starts to materialize to deliver prophecies called decrees that condemn certain individuals to Hell at a specific future time, either seconds or years away. Three hulking supernatural monsters appear at almost the exact time to maul and incinerate the person’s body in a sort of spectacular show of force called a demonstration. Two organizations in cahoots, the cult-like New Truth Society and the gang-like Arrowhead group, gain power by playing on people’s fears.
Of the six episodes of the series, episodes 1–3 focus on a detective investigating the supernatural phenomena, the chairman of the New Truth religious order, and a principled attorney. Except for the attorney, the core characters change in episodes 4–6, which take place 5 years later and focus on a television producer and his wife who have to struggle with the fact that their newborn baby is bound for Hell.
- Yoo Ah-in as Jeong Jin-soo, a cult leader of the emerging New Truth Society
- Park Sang-hoon as young Jeong Jin-soo
- Kim Hyun-joo as Min Hye-jin, an attorney
- Park Jeong-min as Bae Young-jae, a production director for a broadcasting station
- Won Jin-ah as Song So-hyun, the wife of Bae Young-jae
- Yang Ik-june as Jin Kyeong-hoon, a detective
- Kim Do-yoon as Lee Dong-wook, a live streamer and member of Arrowhead, a gang of violent youths
- Kim Shin-rok as Park Jeong-ja, a single mother subject to the first public demonstration
- Lee Re as Jin Hee-jeong, the daughter of Jin Kyeong-hoon
- Ryu Kyung-soo as Yoo Ji, a priest of the New Truth cult
- Kim Mi-soo as Deacon Young-in of the New Truth
- Cha Si-won as Deacon Sacheong of the New Truth
- Im Hyeong-guk as Gong Hyeong-joon, a sociology professor and leader in the Sodo counter-organization
- Kim Hyun as Church member
This drama is based on the manga of the same name by Yeon Sang Ho.
One day, supernatural creatures appear on the streets of Seoul and condemn a man in broad daylight and in the middle of the street. Faced with this frightening event, a sect, the New Truth led by the charismatic and mysterious Jeong Jin Su , is born and interprets these phenomena as signs from God supposed to lead to Judgment. The sinners receive a judgment announcing the day of their death followed by a demonstration at the scheduled time. Three creatures beat the victim to death before sending his soul to Hell and calcining the body.
If a large majority of the population is convinced by these interpretations, several people including police officers and the lawyer Min Hye Jinare trying to denounce this new religion and their vision may not be so correct… But this is without counting the extremist branch of the New Truth, the Arrowhead, which uses violence to discover the sins of the condemned, the display to the general public and get rid of people getting in their way and, thus, according to them, refusing the will of God.
Overall, I’m a bit disappointed with this drama. It must be said that I had been waiting for it for a long time so it may have played on my perception of things. In itself, the scenario is really interesting and the “supernatural creatures” are of quality.
What really bothered me was the treatment of the characters. We have a catalog of characters that appear and disappear at the speed of light, so obviously we don’t have time to like them or even hate them, and then we ask ourselves a lot of questions about them. Jeong Jin Su’s character could have been the most interesting character in the series, but I wasn’t convinced. For once, I’m really disappointed especially since Yoo Ah In is an excellent actor.
The drama raises some interesting points but everything is handled quickly. So yes, there are only six episodes but still…
We would have to see if season 2 provides some answers… although I don’t think I’ll watch it if they ever do.
Despite everything, it’s a drama that you can watch, you don’t get bored.