This post includes a brief plot summary, an explanation about the ending of the film Bedevilled (2010) and a character analysis of the two leads: Bok-nam and Hae-won. Why did Bok-nam try to kill Hae-won? Beware of spoilers.
Bedevilled is a South Korean thriller starring Seo Young-hee as Bok-nam and Ji Sung-won as Hae-won.
Bedevilled (2010) – Plot Summary
Hae-won is a single woman working a Seoul bank. One night, a young woman knocks on her car window asking for help but Hae-won ignores her. Later on, Hae-won finds out that the woman died that same night.
The police contacts Hae-won because she happens to be the sole eye-witness in that case. She reluctantly identifies the thugs responsible for the murder. After they learn about her identity, they start intimidating her. These threats prompt her to take an early vacation to a remote island.
At the island, she has a long-time acquaintance named Bok-nam. They used to be really close friends when they were younger. Soon, Hae-won notices that things didn’t turn out so well for Bok-nam. Her husband Man-jong and everybody else treat Bok-nam like a slave. The only thing that keeps that woman going is the love for her daughter Yeong-hee.
One day, she finds her daughter’s underwear in her husband’s pants, which led her to ask for Hae-won’s help to get her and Yeon-hee out of the island. Bok-nam confides to Hae-won her suspicions but she doesn’t believe her. Therefore, she refuses to take them with her.
A desperate Bok-nam calls for her husband’s mistress help. She does arrive with a boat but the driver happens to be Man-jong’s close friend. They were not able to leave the island and Bok-nam receives a serious beating from her husband. Yeong-hee intervenes but Mah-jong pushes her away, which caused her to fall and accidentally killing her.
A mainland police officer arrives to the island because of Yeong-hee’s death. During the questioning, all the inhabitants were against Bok-nam. They were trying to make her look guilty. Hae-won just stands there saying that she didn’t witness anything.
After a hard day of work, Bok-nam snaps and starts killing the island’s inhabitants. She starts with the older women, then the men and then she went after Hae-won.
Hae-won managed to escape from the island. However, the local police arrested her as a suspect for the murders. Bok-nam overhears that Hae-won was at the local jail, so she went there to find her.
At the jail, Bok-nam taunts Hae-won with a hammer. Meanwhile, the sole police officer at the station shoots Bok-nam. She murders him with the hammer. Hae-won locks herself up in a cell, but Bok-nam finds the keys. She gets in and during the fight Hae-won stabs her with her the broken flute.
After Bok-nam’s death, Hae-won decides to identify the killers that she was initially running away from. At the end, she finds out that Bok-nam was indeed in trouble. It was all written in the unopened letters.
Was Hae-won a bitch?
Well, she’s not as kind as Bok-nam. To be honest, Bok-nam deserved a better friend and a better ending.
Watching the film for a second time gave me a different perspective about Hae-won. The first time I watched Bedevilled, I thought Hae-won was a real bitch. Now, I think that she’s just a coward.
Hae-won talks a big game about being an independent woman, which is true. She does earn her own money and has her own apartment. However, Hae-won is incapable of standing up for others (especially for those that need her help). She looked the other way, when that first woman asked for help. As expected, she did the same thing again when her friend Bok-nam asked her to take her out of the island. By the way, had she read the letters that Bok-nam sent her, she would’ve know that her friend was in trouble.
Now, at the island, Hae-won could’ve done better. How can you be indifferent to your friend’s pain? After Yeon-hee passed away, she didn’t come to Bok-nam’s place to console her. Not even once. In addition, when the police came to island, all she thought was how to get out, instead helping her friend. This leads to me say, that Hae-won only cares about herself and that’s why Bok-nam called her “unkind”. That’s perhaps a better word to describe Hae-won.
Okay, Hae-won is not the best person in the world. However, let’s cut her some slack. At the end, Hae-won is just like us, when we act as bystanders. Sometimes, people don’t want to get involved and that’s comprehensible. It’s not the right thing to do, but feeling fear is also human. Nonetheless, I still believe she should’ve been a better friend to Bok-nam.
Was Bok-nam weak?
Why didn’t Bok-nam just leave? That’s what I thought initially. However, now I understand why she stayed. The fear of the unknown (going to Seoul) was greater than her fear of getting physically abused. In addition, her environment was incredibly toxic. Nobody had her back in that village: her husband, relatives and neighbours were all awful people. No one respected Bok-nam as a human being. Having said that, I don’t believe Bok-nam was a weak person. It takes a lot of strength to keep your own sanity after years of abuse. I bet Hae-won wouldn’t be able to walk one day in Bok-nam’s shoes.
Was Bok-nam’s killing spree justifiable? Killing is never an okay decision. However, Bok-nam was already fed up with everything. The village took away the only person she had ever loved: her daughter. In addition, she already knew that the people on that island were never going to change. So, she had to do something about it.
Bedevilled (2010) Ending Explained
Was Hae-won guilty? Why did Bok-nam try to kill Hae-won? Hae-won was not guilty of Yeon-hee’s death in a direct way. However, her unwillingness to help Bok-nam when she most needed her, led to the fateful events. In addition, Hae-won lied to Bok-nam when she said she was sleeping when the events happened. Hae-won saw exactly what happened, how Yeon-hee died, yet she refused to do something for her friend. Okay, she was afraid of the village’s reaction if she had said yes, but this is not the first time she does something like this.
A flashback shows Bok-nam and Hae-won as teenagers playing in the forest. A group of four boys (Mah-jong, his brother, the boat driver and the police officer) harass Hae-won and Bok-nam stands up for her. Hae-won runs away, while Bok-nam fights the bullies. However, they hit her in the head, which left her unconscious. It’s implied that the boys sexually assaulted her. Hae-won saw what happened, yet she did nothing to help Bok-nam. So as you can see, Hae-won has never been a great friend to Bok-nam. She might have been the only person who has shown kindness to her, but that’s it. Having said that, Bok-nam reaction was legitimate, I guess she grew tired of Hae-won cowardice.
Did Hae-won learn anything from this? Maybe. First, she stopped being so spineless. When she testified against the thugs that killed the young woman, she proved that she’s no longer a bystander. In addition, Bok-nam’s last words really had an impact on her. She called Hae-won “unkind” and that coming from Bok-nam means that you’re a really terrible human being. Second, unemployed Hae-won has plenty of time to reflect about what happened. Bok-nam did try to ask for her help, but Hae-won never opened the letters that her only good friend sent her. Maybe if she had read them, she wouldn’t have called Bok-nam a liar.
After watching Bedevilled for the second time, I still believe Bok-nam deserved a better friend. Though, I didn’t like that she died at the end, it made sense that she did. After all the murders, she wouldn’t be able to walk away free. However, as a viewer it was delightful to watch her get her revenge.
There’s a lot of violence in Bedevilled but the most disconcerting moments in the films didn’t come from the killing spree. It actually came from the domestic abuse, sexual violence and overall bullying that Bok-nam had to endure (for years).
And do you know what is the most uncomfortable truth about the film? We might not like Hae-won, but we all have a little bit of her inside of us. That’s the ugly truth. Hae-won didn’t do anything “bad”, her crime was to be a bystander.
The best thing about Bedevilled is that it keeps the viewers on their toes, because you never know what’s going to happen next and how the story is going to end. In addition, the story makes you think about both of the main characters. You’ll judge them hard in the beginning, but then, you also end up getting why they did the things the way they did.
Overall, Bedevilled is a deep study on how fear affects our decisions. It will make you question everything. That’s why the film is so good. In addition, Seo Young-hee delivered an amazing and powerful performance. She gave a lot of humanity to Bok-nam, even when she was on that killing spree!