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‘Jung_E’ on Netflix: Explanation of that heartbreaking ending

With its AI robots, Blade Runner-like world, and opening action sequence, you probably aren’t expecting from netflix Jung_E to hit you emotionally in the chest.

From Yeon Sang-ho, director of the 2016 zombie horror film Train to Busan, this sci-fi thriller follows a researcher and her team as they try to find the key to creating the ultimate AI fighting robot. A secret connection to the test subject and the ethical issues of cloning human consciousness add to the complications. But mostly, this is a heartfelt story about a mother-daughter relationship navigating a war-torn, dystopian Earth.

Jung_E’s ending, explained

In the year 2135, climate change and resource depletion have led humanity to survive in colony shelters built in space. For 40 years, three havens that came together as the Hadrian Republic have been fighting against the Allied Forces of Earth.

Legendary mercenary ally Captain Yun Jung-yi joins a mission to attack a fuel rod in Adrian’s shelter. He has a chance to make a crucial shot, but is distracted by a childish key ring. They shoot him in the hand, revealing that he is actually a robot as well.

Yun shuts down and is revealed to be in a simulation. Thirty-five years earlier, the real Yun failed the mission and ended up in a coma. A research team from Kronoid Lab, led by Yun’s daughter, Dr. Yun Seo-hyun, cloned his consciousness, which can be repeatedly uploaded into androids.

Dr. Yun Seo-hyun, Captain Yun’s daughter.

Netflix

For five years, they have been studying Captain Yun’s brain map in a recreation of her final mission, attempting to use the data to create the ultimate AI combat robot. Once the android can escape the simulation, the “Jung_E” program will be terminated. Kronoid then intends to make the elite loyalist combat robot for the Allied Forces to gain a winning edge. He will also make Captain Yun an “eternal hero”.

In a flashback, it is revealed that Captain Yun became a mercenary to pay for his daughter Seo-hyun’s lung tumor treatment. On the same day as Seo-hyun’s surgery, Captain Yun ended up in a coma. As an adult, Seo-hyun still feels guilty because, because of her, her mother couldn’t live her life.

After an ethics test to prove that she is not an android, a doctor reveals that Seo-hyun’s cancer has now spread to the rest of her organs. They tell him that he has three months to live. She could copy her consciousness into a prosthetic body for free, just like her mother, but this would also mean that the data from her brain could be sold to companies and used to make clones.

Captain Yun and her mother accompany Seo-hyun in surgery

Captain Yun seeing Seo-hyun in surgery.

Netflix

On a visit to the lab, the Kronoid president informs Seo-hyun that Adrian’s war is coming to an end and the manufacture of weapons, including combat AIs, will cease. In an interview with Seo-hyun, Jung_E reveals that the key chain that distracted her was given to him by her daughter to strengthen and protect him. She had to find it because her daughter told her not to lose it. Realizing that this is what caused her to fail her mission, Seo-hyun erases all memories of herself from Jung_E’s brain.

Before the simulations end, Seo-hyun tells the latest android Jung_E the truth about who she is, removing any other original data so it can no longer be used to create any more Kronoid products, including Captain Yun’s sex dolls.

In the final simulation, Jung_E appears to have been shot dead, but when his body is taken away to be destroyed, he escapes thanks to Seo-hyun’s guidance. Seo-hyun transfers his brain into a basic android and they leave on a train. In a fight with Director Kim, who is actually an android for Kronoid’s young president, Seo-hyun is shot. After Kim is killed, Seo-hyun tells Jung_E to leave her behind and live only for her. Jung_E escapes and, now free from the lab’s simulations, looks out over a vast open mountainous landscape.

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