Set in the 1920s, the South Korean Western action show ‘Song of the Bandits‘ follows the story of Korea’s early insurgence against the imperial Japanese forces that ruled over the Joseon people. The show follows protagonist Lee-yoon’s journey as he leaves the Japanese army to fight for his fellow Joseon countrymen. Teaming up with Choi Chung-soo, Lee-yoon gathers a group of skilled but reckless fighters to protect their home in the Gando region. As the bandits’ reputation grows, new trouble arrives at their doorsteps in the form of a government official, Nam Hee-shin, planning a covert robbery for the sake of the insurgence.
Hee-shin brings Eon Nyeon-i, a gun-for-hire, to Gando to aid the undercover independence fighter in her theft of Japanese funds to finance Joseon’s fight for freedom. As such, the young assassin, who briefly crossed paths with Lee-yoon and Chung-soo before, becomes an integral part of their stories. Although her character contains multitudes, her story remains forever colored by her parent’s murder. Consequently, viewers are bound to be curious about the identity of the person who killed Nyeon-i’s parents. Let’s find out. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Who Killed Nyeon-i’s Parents?
Introduced to the plot as an assassin hired to kill Lee-yoon, Nyeon-i establishes herself as an untrustworthy character from the get-go. In order to target Lee-yoon, Nyeon-i disguises herself as a meek village girl seeking refuge after her family’s murder in Chung-soo’s small village, Taepyeong-dong. Nevertheless, when the opportunity presents itself, Nyeon-i reveals the blades up her sleeve and attacks Lee-yoon.
Nyeon-i works as an assassin and is hired by Lee-yoon’s “ex-master” Kwang-il, who wants the former man dead for abandoning the Japanese army. Yet, even though the guild Nyeon-i belongs to doesn’t tolerate any mistakes and demands the assassin’s life should they fail to kill their target, the woman spares Lee-yoon. After Lee-yoon divulges his past sins against Chung-soo, Nyeon-i gets caught up in emotions. During her short stay at Taepyeong-dong, Chung-soo extended an unexpected hand of kindness and empathy toward her.
Since Chung-soo believes the Japenes have eradicated Nyeon-i’s family, he asserts himself as her newfound father, encouraging her to allow herself a new family. His words stick with Nyeon-i because irrespective of the fake story, she truly is an orphan with no one to call family. At a young age, Nyeon-i lost her parents at the hands of their fellow countrymen.
In a non-descript Joseon village, the public stoned and humiliated Nyeon-i’s parents for some unnamed crime before beheading them. Likewise, after the death of her parents, a young Nyeon-i suffered similar humiliation and violence as her parents. Consequently, Nyeon-i decided to hone her skills and become a ruthless killer so that she could one day bring justice to her family’s murder.
Therefore, upon discovering that Lee-yoon is responsible for Chung-soo’s family’s death, Nyeon-i believes Chung-soo has a better stake in the former soldier’s life than she does. Despite allowing Chung-soo the opportunity to find closure in his family’s death by drawing their killer’s blood, Nyeon-i has stopped looking for her own parent’s killer. Having come a long way from her reckless youth, these days, Nyeon-i has other concerns, namely, her own survival.
Nevertheless, before Nyeon-i ended her search for her parent’s killers, she found some crucial information about their identity. The killer, a respected nobleman, had to take action against Nyeon-i’s parents due to their involvement in the Donghak movement. Yet, after their execution, the killer retired from public office and lived a life of seclusion in his hometown. That is, until the Japanese attack on the Joseon people compelled him to join the righteous army, where he served as the feared and revered General known as “The Invincible General.”
As the first season ends, we have no confirmation about whether or not Nyeon-i knows that Chung-soo is the Invincible General. However, given her gradual closeness to the man, it’s hard to imagine the hot-headed assassin knows about Chung-soo’s direct hand in her parent’s killing. Yet, we as an audience are privy to this information thanks to a conversation between Lee-yoon and Chung-soo wherein the latter’s alias, “The Invincible General,” is referenced. As such, we will simply have to wait for the second season to see how this revelation will affect Nyeon-i’s relationship with Chung-soo.