The Worst of Evil Finale Ending, Explained: Why Does Joon-mo Let Ki-cheol Go?

Detective Park Joon-mo’s investigation into the international Gangnam Crystal drug trade by infiltrating Korean boss Jung Ki-cheol’s gang comes to a head with the finale of the Disney+ K-drama ‘The Worst of Evil.’ In his undertaking, Joon-mo receives aid from his wife, Yoo Eui-jung, another cop who happens to have a past relationship with Ki-cheol. As such, while significant deals play out between Ki-cheol and the Chinese and Japanese gangs, a subtle game of emotions runs between him and the undercover married duo.

However, as the end of Joon-mo’s investigation nears, so does the delicate but monumental faith Ki-cheol has put in him and Eui-jung. Thus, fans are bound to await the emotional outburst that follows eagerly. Let’s delve into the same! SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Worst Of Evil Episode 12 Recap

Once Joon-mo and Ki-cheol fix things with the Chinese and Japanese gangs, respectively, the drug trade opens again, bringing things back on track. Joon-mo and his superiors, Do-hyung and Chang-sik, plan to commence the bust at the next drug pick-up/drop-off. Therefore, even though Ki-cheol confesses to Joon-mo that he plans to retire from the underworld after this transaction for Eui-jung’s sake, the cop knows Ki-cheol’s fate is already forsaken.

However, Joon-mo’s mission is threatened when a local cop, Min-goo, with a vendetta against Ki-cheol, starts intervening in the gangster’s business. Consequently, Do-hyung manipulates circumstances and uses Chief Seo as a distraction, attempting to put Min-goo off course. Yet, the plan backfires when Seo catches a glimpse of Do-hyung outside the station after his release. Since Joon-mo is undercover as Seung-ho, for members of Gangnam Alliance, Do-hyung assumes Joon-mo’s identity as Eui-jung’s ex-husband.

Therefore, Seo becomes suspicious of Do-hyung, believing he and Eui-jung, who is Ki-cheol’s girlfriend right now, are playing his boss. Consequently, the nifty gangster tricks the cop and corners him late one night. Afterward, he contacts Joon-mo, who has just finished pick-up from the Chinese cartel, only to be attacked by a mysterious group who stole the merchandise from his and Ki-cheol’s car.

Still, Joon-mo arrives on the scene and realizes his cover is close to the breaking point when Seo demands he kill Do-hyung to prove his innocence. In the following fight, Seo shoots Do-hyung before backup arrives and takes the gangster into custody. Although the police captain is rushed to the hospital, he fails to survive, but his boss, Chang-sik, decides to withhold news of Do-hyung’s death from Joon-mo.

Meanwhile, Ki-cheol faces his own reckoning when he realizes that his former friend, Jung-bae, who was banished from the gang, has returned and staged a coup with Hee-sung against Ki-cheol. The two men stole the drugs and set Ki-cheol up by teaming up with Min-goo, who arrives to arrest Ki-cheol.

Nevertheless, Jung-bae rescues Ki-cheol in time and goes into hiding with him. Simultaneously, Changsik ensures that Gangnam Alliance, now led by Jung-bae and Hee-sung, only sells their drugs to the Japanese cartel so that the country’s authorities can arrest them in time. In the end, the day of the hand-off arrives when Joon-mo drives Ki-cheol to the location to confront his former gang members. Nonetheless, after the deal, Joon-mo finally drops his charade and reveals his identity as a cop, handcuffing Ki-cheol to the car.

Afterward, Joon-mo exits the car to arrest the other member, leaving a distressed Ki-cheol behind, who has just realized his most trusted comrade was actually working against him from day one. Yet, as the police swarm the area, Ki-cheol realizes Joon-mo has left him one saving grace: the keys to his handcuffs. Thus, as Joon-mo takes down Ki-cheol’s empire, he watches the man slip away into the night.

The Worst Of Evil Ending: Why Does Joon-mo Let Ki-cheol Go?

Joon-mo undergoes a significant character arc throughout the show as he transitions from the quiet life of a countryside detective to an undercover cop embroiled in Gagnam’s deadly nightlife. Therefore, even though he had first taken this assignment with the explicit intention of bringing Ki-cheol down, his feelings on the matter developed with him. During his time in the Gangnam Alliance, the most crucial thing Joon-mo had to do was earn Ki-cheol’s unbarred trust so that the man would allow him access to his most well-kept secrets.

Therefore, Joon-mo assumed the identity of Ki-cheol’s dead best friend’s cousin and spent weeks getting closer to the man. Nevertheless, trust ends up being a two-way street. Since Ki-cheol has bestowed so much faith in Joon-mo, the latter man can’t help but feel awful about betraying that trust. Furthermore, days before, Ki-cheol expressed his decision to step away from his illegal career and start a new life. Even though Eui-jung’s staged return to his life brings this change of heart, it proves to Joon-mo that the man is capable of change.

By spending so much time by Ki-cheol’s side, Joon-mo has learned new things about him, such as his traumatic childhood and family life, and gotten a glimpse of his softer demeanor that treasures loyalty above all else. Joon-mo no longer perceives Ki-cheol as a thug since he understands him on a deeper level now. As a result, the cop’s conscience doesn’t allow him to arrest Ki-cheol, deeming such betrayal to be too grave. As such, Joon-mo leaves the key behind for Ki-cheol to utilize in his escape and drive away from the cops as they arrest his gang members.

Why Does Joon-mo Kill Ki-cheol?

Even though Joon-mo betrays his duty to allow Ki-cheol’s escape, the latter can’t forgive Joon-mo for everything he man has done to him. Overnight, Ki-cheol has lost everything he spent his entire life building. One after the other, betrayals from Jung-bae, Joon-mo (Seung-ho for Ki-cheol), and Eui-jung have entirely wrecked the man, leaving him alone and destitute. Perhaps the worst betrayal also comes from Eui-jung, who uses Ki-cheol’s sincere feelings for him against him to set up a trap for him.

Ki-cheol’s ambitions and dreams crumble all at once, leaving the former gangster with nothing in life. As a result, weeks after The Gangnam Alliance and their international drug trade’s downfall, Ki-cheol shows up at Joon-mo and Eui-jung’s apartment for one final confrontation. Both Joon-mo and Eui-jung have betrayed Ki-cheol in deeply wounding ways. Worse yet, Ki-cheol doesn’t have anyone to blame but himself since he allowed his guards to drop.

Still, despite their shortcomings, Joon-mo and Eui-jung were only doing what was demanded of them by their superiors and job titles. While each has conflicting feelings about Ki-cheol, neither can deny that they have saved numerous people who would have fallen victim to his drug trade by punishing the man. However, Ki-cheol believes he shouldn’t be the only one punished for his crimes.

In a way, Eui-jung and Joon-mo have also committed the grave sin of exploiting Ki-cheol to set him up for his own demise. Therefore, the man wants to make them suffer and pulls a gun on his own head. He wants the two cops to know that his suicide— an action he would be damned for— is born of their actions. Had they not pushed Ki-cheol to the edge, he wouldn’t have resorted to the same.

Yet, moments before Ki-cheol pulls the trigger, Joon-mo does it for him, firing at his chest with his own gun. Previously, when Joon-mo became responsible for another man’s indirect death, he was inconsolable, and something intrinsic within him changed. Consequently, he knows the price of taking a life but decides to pay it to save Ki-cheol from a damned afterlife and give him a more dignified death: a drug lord killed by a cop.

Do Joon-mo and Eui-jung Stay Together?

Although Joon-mo and Eui-jung try to return to their old life after their assignment finishes, it doesn’t take long for the couple to realize the same would be impossible. After spending so much time undercover, Joon-mo has become a changed man in ways that Eui-jung won’t be able to understand. Likewise, as a result of their mission, both spouses had to grow closer to other people romantically and betray their commitment to one another.

Even though Eui-jung and Joon-mo understand the sacrifices the others had to make without holding it against them, they can’t deny the change it brought in them. Although Eui-jung’s relationship with Ki-cheol is fake, it reconnects her with a part of her life she thought she had left behind. Since Ki-cheol meant so much to her in her youth, she can’t simply move on from him and return to her marriage.

In the same vein, Joon-mo had inadvertently grown close to Hae-ryeon, Ki-cheol’s business partner from China. Although Joon-mo had conflicting feelings for the woman, he cared enough for her to ensure she escaped from the scene before the cops could find her. As such, the man is likely torn because his affections no longer lies with Eui-jung.

In the end, Ki-cheol’s death hammers the final nail in the coffin of Joon-mo and Eui-jung’s relationship. Eui-jung likely won’t ever be able to look at Joon-mo the same way again, and the man will have to live with the moral implications of his actions, which will change his identity forever. As such, when Joon-mo visits Ki-cheol’s grave after his death, he leaves his wedding band behind on the latter’s gravestone, symbolizing his and Eui-jung’s relationship’s death.

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