JUNG_E is a Korean sci-fi action flick set on a desolate Earth in the year 2194. It follows the company Kronoid as it attempts to create the perfect combat AI by cloning the brain of a comatose legendary mercenary. It is now streaming on Netflix.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
JUNG_E opens by explaining that in the near future, sea levels rise due to rapid climate change, making the Earth almost inhabitable.
Humanity builds many shelters between the orbital planes of our planet and the moon and spends decades migrating into them. Eventually, shelters 8,12, and 13 declare themselves the Adrian Republic and start attacking Earth and the other shelters.
This resulted in a civil war between the Adrian Republic and the Allied Forces that is still ongoing and has lasted over 40 years. Meanwhile, humans left on Earth work in big corporations producing ammunition to aid the war.
In the year 2194, a company named Kronoid is determined to create the perfect combat AI by cloning the brain of a famous yet now comatose mercenary, Captain Yun Jung-yi. It is explained that 35 years ago, she was tasked with blowing up a fuel rod in Adrian’s Shelter B-25 but was severely injured.
With permission from her family, Kronoid spent a lot of money to keep her alive and replicated her brain, converting her neural cortex into data. They called this program, JUNG_E.
The project is led by Jung-yi’s daughter Yun Seo-hyun, the team leader. Furthermore, it is overseen by the eccentric Director Kim Sang-hoon. The team has been creating robots, using artificial skin to make them look like Jung-yi, and running simulations.
They put a copy of her brain into a robot and make it live through the mission she perished in. Unfortunately, despite numerous runs, the robots always die in the same spot. With time running out, Sang-hoon urges his team to produce results.
After another failure, Seo-hyun opens up to a colleague about her guilt. Turns out, she had a tumor in her lung as a kid. The treatments were expensive, so Jung-yi became a soldier to make things economically easier. Seo-hyun had her surgery on the day of her mother’s final mission.
Seo-hyun wonders if her mom resented her for being the reason for her tough life. Later, she goes to appear for her usual ethics test — an examination that confirms a human is not a robot in disguise.
After the test, a cloned medical bot explains to her that her cancer has returned and she only has three months to live. It urges Seo-hyun to transfer her conscience into a prosthetic body before time runs out. The poor lady realizes that her mother’s sacrifice was for nothing since she is going to die anyway.
At this point, the plot explains there are three ways of transferring the brain. Type A is the most expensive method and includes a cerebral storage backup before the transfer. It also secures the person’s human rights and covers a single-body prosthetic.
Type B is slightly cheaper, but prevents the person from rights like marriage, freedom of movement, and adoption, and allows the government to access brain data.
Finally, Type C is free of cost, but the person surrenders ownership of their brain data, allowing companies to own it. They can further use it to create clones and use them in any which way they desire. Jung-yi’s family agreed to the Type C prosthetic when she went into a coma and handed her over to Kronoid.
Seo-hyun asks for some time to think over it and leaves. The next day, during a fresh simulation, Sang-hoon instructs his team to shoot the new JUNG_E robot in the leg before the start. He states that they need to try different situations for different results.
Although the robot perishes, it showcases the activation of a new area in the brain that is triggered. The director has it marked yellow and exclaims that it is the combat part of the mind.
Sang-hoon is ecstatic at the progress, but this bubble of happiness bursts when the chairman of the company comes to visit. He shared a relationship with Jung-yi and took care of Seo-hyun since childhood.
He reveals that the Adrian Republic and Allied Force have reached an agreement to end the war. Therefore, the combat AI program is useless and will be shut down. He further adds that Kronoid will now focus on household AI.
The chairman also speaks about the unnatural feeling related to cloning human minds and shockingly reveals that Sang-hoon is a robot that he created when he first got into the field of brain transfers. However, the director isn’t aware that he’s a cybernetic being.
JUNG_E ending explained in detail:
How does Sang-hoon react?
After finding out that the program is under threat, Sang-hoon starts torturing the latest JUNG_E robot to get the mysterious yellow spike in its brain.
Seo-hyun is unable to watch the likeness of her mother in this condition and takes over administrative control. She refuses to go on with the tests, and the director points a gun at her. Incidentally, he is called to HQ by the chairman and leaves.
The team leader finds out that the company is also planning to use her mother’s clones in the sexual market and is outraged. She awakens the robot that was damaged by Sang-hoon earlier and calmly talks to her as Captain Jung-yi.
To her shock, the robot demands to know about her daughter’s surgery and is relieved that it went well. At this moment, the yellow spike goes off the charts.
Seo-hyun deactivates the robot and breaks down, realizing that Jung-yi loved her to bits and never held her responsible for her dangerous life in the army. Also, the yellow spike was the captain’s will to fight to be with her daughter again.
The younger version of Seo-hyun had given her mother a doll on the day of her mission and losing it caused Jung-yi to get distracted and get shot.
What is Seo-hyun’s plan?
On the day of the last simulation, Seo-hyun tells the lab workers to wrap up the project and send all the data to her. As she gets a new robot ready, she tells her assistants to leave her with it and doesn’t follow the usual protocol.
She turns off the administrative control for the robot, allowing it to function on its own. Furthermore, before she boots it up, she whispers instructions and information into its ear about what the situation is. Lastly, she erases all the data in the yellow area, thus eliminating its weakness.
The simulation takes place, and the robot perishes in the usual spot. Sang-hoon is unimpressed and half-heartedly thanks everyone for being a part of the project and walks off.
Meanwhile, the JUNG_E robot awakens after the simulation and pretends to walk along with the lab workers. Unfortunately, Sang-hoon senses some abnormality in the results and demands to look at the replay of the test.
He discovers that instead of getting shot, the robot pretended to get hit and collapsed on purpose. He immediately sounds the alarm and calls for the Police.
Do JUNG_E and Seo-hyun escape?
JUNG_E attacks the workers and runs off to find an escape route. Elsewhere, Seo-hyun erases all the project data from the system. On her way out, JUNG_E fights the AI robots sent to apprehend it.
It is on the verge of being ripped to pieces when Seo-hyun comes to the rescue. Meanwhile, a troop of Police robots also enters the building, armed to take down the rogue bot.
They soon find JUNG_E and shoot it down as Seo-hyun is helped out of the room by a regular AI robot. In an unexpected twist, it is revealed that Seo-hyun put Jung-yi’s brain into the AI bot and escaped with it.
JUNG_E (In its new skinless AI bot body) and Seo-hyun board a train to escape before the Police become aware of their trickery. Unfortunately, Sang-hoon is already on that train and shoots his former team leader.
In retaliation, JUNG_E attacks him and a brutal fight breaks out. During the conflict, Sang-hoon is wounded and finally discovers that he is also a robot. Frustrated, he unleashes his full power as the Police bots join the fight.
As the massive brawl carries on aboard the train, the Police are taken care of, but Sang-hoon is relentless. As he is about to get the upper hand, their train collides with another, allowing Seo-hyun to save her mother.
Sang-hoon falls to his death as JUNG_E tries to stop the bleeding from Seo-hyun’s gunshot wound. The dying woman begs JUNG_E to run far away and have a fresh start. She bids her mother’s conscience farewell as the robot leaps from the train.
The final scene sees JUNG_E standing on the edge of a mountain, staring at the sunrise.