The Wailing Movie Ending Explained (In Detail)

Recently, Asian films have become increasingly popular. Fans of the films “Parasite” and “Train to Busan” should pay attention to the film by Korean director and screenwriter Na Hong-jin, mystical thriller “The Wailing” (Gokseong), released in 2016.

Plot Summary

At first, the plot of the movie seems uncomplicated. In the village of Coxon, picturesquely located in the mountains, strange and frightening things happen. The inhabitants are alternately infected with some mysterious disease, or become possessed by an evil spirit. Their bodies are covered with a rash of unknown origin, behavior changes dramatically and in the end in a fit of aggression they kill all the members of their family, and then die themselves.

The main character – police sergeant Jong-gu (actor Kwak To-won, who played in the series “Ghost” and the movie “Yellow Sea”) begins to investigate the strange cases. But he does his work without much zeal and desire to achieve any result, until a mysterious disease does not affect his only daughter, the role played by twelve-year-old actress Kim Hwan-hee. The plot, which had been slow up to this point, begins to accelerate and in the second half of the movie the events change more and more quickly, keeping the viewer glued to the screen and giving him the opportunity to play detective.

The meaning of the movie The Wailing

The movie is filled with symbolism and mysticism. It cannot be attributed to only one genre. It organically combines thriller, comedy, detective and drama. Gradually, the creators of the film guide the viewer through all these genres, stealthily more and more immersing in the oppressive atmosphere, creating by the end of the feeling of hopelessness and dependence on someone else’s will.

It is impossible to unequivocally answer the question of what meaning the director put into his work. This is the influence of religion on human life, the issues of faith and choice, and the existence of evil outside of man. The film asks a lot of questions, the answers to which the viewer will have to find for himself.

Characterization of heroes

Despite the abundance of characters, only a few characters are significant.

The police officer Jong-gu at the beginning appears to the viewer as a not very smart, characterless, lazy and cowardly man, who is constantly tormented by nightmares. But it is around him that all the events unfold. After his daughter is in danger, the character of the hero changes dramatically. Jong-gu forgets about his fear and desperately searches for the cause of terrible accidents, hoping to save his family.

During the movie the viewer is introduced to three mystical characters. The first one he sees is a mysterious tourist from Japan, whose role is wonderfully played by actor Jun Kunimura. Remarkably, the movie begins with a scene of the Japanese man’s peaceful fishing trip. However, gradually the essence of this character is revealed from the most unpleasant side.

After problems with his daughter take a threatening turn, Jeong-gu invites Il-gwan (actor Hwang Jong-min), a shaman, into his home. This is perhaps the most volatile and ambiguous character in the movie. Over the course of the plot, the understanding of whether he represents good or evil forces changes several times.

Finally, the most mysterious and obscure figure is a woman with no name, played by actress Cheon Woo-hee, who became famous after the dorama “Inner Beauty”. Is she trying to save the villagers or is she herself using people for her own purposes. To understand this, it is worth watching the whole movie carefully.


This movie is for those who prefer riddles and puzzles to flashy special effects and monsters jumping out from around the corner. The plot is rather confusing, but its complexity and seeming clumsiness at first is the main charm. When watching it, you don’t jump on the spot from fright, but gradually become filled with anxiety, which then turns into genuine horror.

If you like movies that challenge and make you think, The Wailing (2016) is for you.

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