Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Jung_E.
Netflix has released a film called Jung_E, which was written and directed by Yeon Sang-ho. You might recognize the name from his prior work, Train to Busan, The King of Pigs, and Seoul Station. The movie, released on the streaming service on Jan. 20, 2023, is a science fiction film filled with everything that fans of the genre would love; robots, artificial intelligence, and a war in space.
The war in question began after humans took to space when the Earth was ravaged by climate change. They built shelters between the orbital planes of the Moon and the Earth. But, three shelters joined together to fight the other 75 or so, attacking Earth in the process. This started the decades-long war between the Allied Force and the three shelters that made up The Adrian Republic.
You might have come across the film while looking for something to watch, or noticed the movie on Netflix’s top 10. Science fiction can be a little complicated, so you could be wondering exactly what happened at the end of Jung_E, or planning to skip past the credits to see if there is anything at the very end of the film. Allow us to simplify your worries and go through Jung_E to know exactly what happened at the end of the movie.
What happens at the end of Jung_E?
The film sees a renowned mercenary named Yun Jung-yi (Kim Hyun-joo) die in battle. Her brain is copied from her body and inserted into robots, creating a militaristic AI. When she was alive, she became a mercenary because she needed the money for her daughter who was suffering from cancer. Her transition into an AI happened because the company behind the technology, Kronoid, sat down with her family after she was killed. Her mother signed off on her brain being used for the process in exchange for remuneration, which not only covered their living costs but also the medical bills of her daughter.
The AI was put through a series of tests to simulate a complete run of her original mission, but after each simulation, she failed. The head of the team assembled to run Jung-yi, now known as JUNG_E, is her own daughter, Dr. Yun Seo-hyun (Kang Soo-yeon), who is now 35 years old. She is told that her mother could have ended the war years ago, but because the AI has not yet achieved its goal, her mother’s body will be transitioned into something for commercial use.
JUNG_E comes close to finally being able to beat the mission, after being shot in the leg. The director of the project, Kim Sang-Hoon (Ryu Kyung-soo) becomes enraged after not being able to find out why she was close to beating the mission, as a seemingly random sector of her brain lit up before she failed. Unfortunately, the team does not have much time left.
She meets with the Chairman of Kronoid (Lee Dong-hee) and this is when we find out that Kim Sang-Hoon believes himself to be human when he is actually the first AI that the Chairman designed, based on the younger version of himself. On top of that, Seo-hyun finds out that she has an inoperable tumor and only has 3 months to live. The doctor informs her of the different types of brain cloning choices available to her, making it clear that her mother’s option allows Kronoid to do whatever they like with her likeness.
While they investigate what made JUNG_E’s brain activate in a way that could see her succeed, the team begins to wrap the project up. Unfortunately, Dr. Seo-hyun finds JUNG_E in the room of one of the researchers, and she realizes that her mother is being repurposed to be a line of sex dolls. Devastated, she manages to get some alone time with the AI and explains that she is being tortured and needs to escape.
In jeopardy and not knowing if she will survive, the AI asks Seo-hyun if her daughter survived the operation as she still thinks it is the day of the mission 35 years earlier. Seo-hyun says that the operation went well, and that’s when JUNG_E inadvertently gives away how Jung-yi died. She mentions that her daughter gave her a little doll to keep her safe and that she was distracted because she lost it.
Realizing that she is the reason why her mother died, Seo-hyun breaks down. She shuts JUNG_E down and plans their escape. During a routine training simulation, the AI fakes being shot by the robots, so that when she is taken to be shut down once again, she can take out the researchers and escape with Seo-hyun. Ultimately, the pair make their way to a train that they use to escape after she put her mother’s AI brain into a blank robot that does not have her likeness.
Unfortunately, not one to take failure lightly, Kim Sang-Hoon goes after them. While on the train car, he threatens to shoot Seo-hyun if JUNG_E does not come back with him to the facility. That is when she reveals that she erased all of the AI’s memories of her daughter, allowing her to be free of the emotions that held her back from completing her final mission. JUNG_E fights against Sang-Hoon and after a rough scrape exposes his cybernetic eye, post which he has an existential crisis realizing that he too is an AI.
The pair fight with Sang-Hoon now displaying extreme strength that he did not have before. That is until he falls to his death. The movie ends with Seo-hyun telling the AI to leave her to die, knowing that she would have been dead within months anyway. It is not as if she wanted her brain to live on, copied into another being, as nearly every AI we encounter is having a miserable experience.
The last shot is of Jung_E, now in her robotic form, looking into the horizon among some rocky, green mountains. And from there the credits roll. You do not have to worry, there are no extra stingers or scenes at the end of the credits. You could always watch the credits to pay respects to the people who worked on Jung_E, especially Kang Soo-youn who passed away before the film was released.
In the end, Jung_E provides a decent examination of the place of robotics and AI in war, and how futile that would end up being. But, it was also an example of how humanity is what separates us from them — Jung-yi cared for her daughter, it is evident from her actions when she was alive and unfortunately became the reason she died. She could love because she wasn’t a machine.
You can watch Jung_E currently streaming on Netflix.