Netflix’s Song of the Bandits follows people who, for various reasons, gather in the lawless lands of Gando during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea, and unite against the Imperial army to protect their homeland.
Warning: This article contains heavy spoilers
After defying his master, a former indentured slave and a soldier in the Japanese army, Lee Yoon heads off to North Gando to search for a man from his past — Choi Choong-Soo.
He meets up with his old friend Seon-Bok in Myeongjeong village, and later Choong-Soo, to whom he reveals the purpose of the visit. It’s to repent for his crimes the guilt of which wracks him up every waking hour of his life.
Meanwhile, his former owner and Japanese army superior Gwang-Il, sends a killer-for-hire to kill Lee Yoon. However, the man ends up not dead but a leader of a new group of ragtag bandits.
Lee Gwang-Il tortures his own uncle, an Independence fighter, to extract information on the Army’s plans. The little information he gets before his uncle shoots himself to death is sufficient for him to act on it.
Nam Hee-Shin, another Independence fighter, arrives at Myeongjeong with Eon-Nyeoni, who crosses paths with Yoon again and engages in a battle that is ended abruptly by the arrival of the police.
The hunt for the Gando railroad construction funds commences, Yoon and the bandits make their move, and so do Jang Ki-Ryong’s bandits, only to be outplayed by Eon-Nyeoni and Hee-Shin.
Yoon tracks down the funds and stumbles upon Hee-Shin, just as Gwang-Il arrives with his men to nab the carrier himself. Yoon helps Hee-Shin and accompanies her to the meeting spot, facing many challenges and complications.
Eon-Nyeoni is given an ultimatum by Gwang-Il and tasked with finishing the job and killing Yoon. She goes to warn Choong-Soo about it, while also sowing doubt inside him regarding Yoon’s loyalty.
Choong-Soo and the bandits, Gwang-Il and the Japanese, Eon-Nyeoni, and then some — all gather at a Daur village but the standoff between Gwang-Il and Yoon ends in a draw. Nyeoni tries again to kill Yoon but can’t.
She’s arrested in Myeongjeong and later breaks out of jail when the 19th Nanam Division arrives with infantry at Myeongjeong, causing a lot of havoc. The bandits arrive too and take care of the Japanese forces.
Yoon takes Hee-Shin and escorts her to safety, before blowing off two fingers in Gwang-Il’s right hand, letting him go while his men are shot down by the Independence Army. Yoon also reveals his name to Hee-Shin.
He returns to lend a hand against Ki-Ryong’s gang and frees the bandits while one of them sacrifices to take them astray. He and the bandits escape to safety. Yoon goes to Gyeongseong to meet Hee-Shin who learns about a new Japanese campaign.
Her identity is inadvertently revealed to Gwang-Il, who still chooses to marry her for some reason. Yoon departs back for Taepyeong-Dong as the Japanese Military advances for Gando, before Song of the Bandits rolls the credits.
Song of the Bandits ending explained in detail:
Who killed Eon-Nyeoni’s parents?
Eon-Nyeoni’s parents were killed by Choi Choong-Soo. It’s not revealed if Eon-Nyeoni ever gets to learn that he’s the one who killed her parents.
It’s at the very end of Song of the Bandits that this crucial information regarding her painful past is revealed.
That’s because she doesn’t know Choong-Soo’s history as well, and that he was once known by his alias — the Invincible General.
Mr. Park was the one who learned about her parents’ killer and told her that he was a scholar-official and a nobleman loyal to his country. He was forced to take action against Donghak.
The incident also took Eon-Nyeoni’s parents’ life. After that, his guilt drove him back to his hometown as he retired. When the Japanese arrive and destroy everything, he becomes a General of the Righteous Army in Jeolla.
During the Japanese Military annihilation, the Righteous Army base in Gurye, including Choong-Soo’s family was killed. He retreated to a remote location in Gando and lived with the people of Joseon in Taepyeong-Dong.
Tracking down Lee Yoon in order to kill him, Nyeoni arrives at Taepyeong-Dong before him and seeks refuge pretending to be a lone survivor of bandits and other troubles.
Choong-Soo is too wise and sharp to fall for her pretense but gives her food and refuge regardless, treating her as his own daughter and making her feel at home, something she hasn’t felt ever in her life after her parents passed away.
What happens to Gwang-Il?
Lee Gwang-Il, aka Miura Shohei, serves as the prime antagonist in Song of the Bandits.
Gwang-Il was born a noble and after the Japanese invasion, he and his family defect to their side. He became a soldier for the Japanese Army and worked for them under the name of Miura Shohei.
He frees his indentured slave Lee Yoon and convinces him to become a Japanese soldier too. Lee Yoon became a Unit Leader and tracked down militia leaders for the authorities to kill them.
He also inadvertently contributed to the massacre in Gurye that took out Choong-Soo’s family too. He became depressed and wracked with guilt and eventually defied Gwang-Il to quit the Army and head off to Myeongjeong for repentance.
Gwang-Il, furious, hires Eon-Nyeoni to kill him, but she leaves him when he says only Choong-Soo has the right to kill him, which she agrees with. Gwang-Il continues to be the perfect dog of the Japanese masters.
He finds out about the Independence Army’s effort to steal Gando railroad construction funds to further their own movement. He heads off to Myeongjeong to prevent this robbery but fails to do so.
He crosses paths with Yoon again but the latter’s sizeable support of bandits makes him incapable of killing his former servant. He continually tasks Nyeoni with the hit but when she fails to do so, he takes matters into his own hands.
He chases Yoon and the carrier, never knowing until the end of Song of the Bandits that it’s his fianceé. Hee-Shin successfully escapes while he duels Yoon, who easily shoots off his two fingers on the right hand, rendering him incapable of shooting.
Yoon spares Gwang-Il, telling him to run off and live not as Miura Shohei but as Lee Gwang-Il. However, Gwang-Il reports back to his Japanese superiors, loyal to the Emperor. He’s safe even after his failure, thanks to his father who is the foreign minister.
He’s sent to Gyeongseong on probation by General Katayama. He goes back to Hee-Shin and asks if she would still be with such a failure like him. She says she would but secretly pry information from him.
He notices as she steals information from him about the decimation campaign against seditious Joseon persons in Gando. She then relays it to her fellow Independence Army soldier, which confirms her identity to Gwang-Il.
However, he doesn’t take any action against her and before the credits roll on the first season of Song of the Bandits, he marries her.
He pays and threatens the man he sent to spy on her to never speak of her real identity to anyone. However, his sidekick Jae-Tu does end up overhearing all of this.
Is Gando free?
No, by the end of the Song of the Bandits finale, Gando has not gained any sort of freedom. In fact, things have gotten worse than they were before.
General Katayama, in a bid to quash any all Joseon resistance, along with the Independence Army, shakes hands with bandit Ki-Ryong’s crew. This union resulted in the massacre of 40 Japanese, including that of Chief Inspector Nagano.
Katayama then uses this incident that he caused himself, to call for a meeting between leaders of Nanam and Bonggye. He demands for recourse from the Japanese army. The Chinese agree as well.
His plans worked wonders and the Imperial Army marched towards Manchuria to wipe out the Independence movement under the guise of “police action.”
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