Song of the Bandits Season 1 Ending Explained – Does Gwang-il know Hee-shin is a spy?

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: September 23, 2023 (Last updated: last month)
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Song of the Bandits Season 1 Episode 9 Recap and Ending Explained
Song of the Bandits Season 1 (Credit - Netflix)

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS

3.5

Summary

A solid finale brings some matters to a conclusion but mostly tees up a potential second season.

After eight prior episodes, and with most of its essential conflicts already resolved in one way or another, season 1, episode 9 of Song of the Bandits is largely about, somewhat untraditionally for a K-Drama, setting things up for a potential second season.

There are, of course, some minor matters to attend to, but what’s really at stake is the future of the Joseon people under Japanese rule, not to mention Japanese/Chinese political relations and how that all affects the bandits and ordinary folk eking out a life under the totalitarian heel of oppression.

As Episode 8 left the bandits in a precarious position with the police station surrounded by lawmen and Ri-kyong’s bandits on their way back to Myeongjeong after figuring out they had been deceived, an escape attempt took priority.

How do Yoon and his bandits escape?

The savior of the bandits, in a roundabout way, is Choraeng-yi, whose nimbleness makes him the only viable candidate to slip out of their predicament and commandeer a machine gun that lays waste to the Japanese.

The gang is able to make their way out relatively safely, but they all earn sizeable bounties on their heads. Yoon, on Choong-soo’s advice, takes some time off to hopefully reunite with Hee-shin.

What happens to Gwang-il?

Unfortunately, Gwan-il had the same idea. After being put on probation for refusing to let his men kill Yoon during their stand-off in the previous episode, he returns to his hometown and confesses to Hee-shin that he’s a nobody and a failure.

While he wouldn’t be surprised if she no longer wanted to marry him in light of all this, she decides to go ahead with their nuptials anyway, obviously to continue extracting information from him. Case in point, she has a look at a file that Gwang-il acquired that lays out what the Japanese are calling a “Decimation Campaign”.

Decimation Campaign

The basic idea of the Decimation Campaign is to eradicate all Joseon people and other forms of resistance in Gando by tricking the Chinese into allowing Japanese occupation of the Manchuria region. General Katayama accomplishes this by hiring Ki-ryong and his crew to raid the consulate, slaughtering many Japanese soldiers, including Chief Inspector Nagano.

In the aftermath, the Japanese have justification to petition China to allow them to occupy the region, and the Chinese agree as long as no Chinese citizens are harmed.

Does Gwang-il know Hee-shin is a spy?

When Hee-shin passes on information about the Independence Army, she inadvertently exposes her deception to Gwang-il, who confirms that she is a traitor.

However, for reasons that are unclear at this point, Gwang-il bribes his spy to ensure that the information isn’t revealed to anyone, and he goes ahead with their wedding. Presumably, Gwang-il is playing some kind of long game here since it’s unlikely that his love for Hee-shin would be strong enough to simply allow him to overlook her true motives in order to be with her.

The news of the Decimation Campaign means that Yoon has more pressing matters to attend to, despite having traveled to reunite with Hee-shin, and he has to put the greater good of Joseon people first by returning back to Gando to continue fighting with his bandits against the Japanese occupiers.

What are your thoughts on Songs of Bandits season 1, episode 9? Comment below.

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