Tale Of The Nine Tailed: Season Finale Explained

South Korean fantasy drama Tale of the Nine Tailed’s season one finale recently garnered a lot of attention among K-drama enthusiasts. The finale was quite explanatory, and yet some questions remained unanswered.

When I finished watching the show, I had several questions. Fantasy dramas do not exactly have a strong relationship with reality, so when you sit to watch something as dreamy as Tale of the Nine Tailed, you have to keep your heart in hand instead of your head.

With that being said, I do have some explanations about the quite interesting ending to the season.

Lee Yeon is seen to be dead in the end. But he comes back by reincarnating, though this time without his magical powers as the mythical nine tailed fox or gumiho. Or so we think!

Later, Yeon also meets a young boy who resembles his brother Lee Rang’s younger self. It obviously hints at Rang’s reincarnation as well.

It’s a happy ending: Yeon reincarnates into the mortal world and reunites with his lady love Ji-ah. Later, he gets the hint of Rang’s supposed reincarnation as a young boy. The finale also hints that Yeon is still a fox.

1. What Happens At The End Of Season 1?

The season finale gives the fans of the show quite a happy ending. Broadly speaking, three important things happen in the end:

One, Ji-ah and Lee Yeon reunite with each other after Yeon reincarnates into the mortal world. However, there is a price to pay.

Tale Of The Nine Tailed: Season Finale Explained
Lee Rang and Lee Yeon

Second, Lee Rang sacrifices his life in order to bring his brother Yeon back. Yeon apparently returns without his magical powers as the nine tailed fox. Later, Yeon has trouble coming to terms with his brother’s sacrifice. However, Yeon meets a young a boy who resembles Rang, indicating that Rang has successfully reincarnated.

Third, the finale strongly hints at Yeon still having his magical gumiho powers. We see him in a face off with The Spirit of Misfortune. Yeon uses his trusted sword and his eyes light up in the dark as well. Clear hints that he didn’t lose his gumiho powers.

2. Did Lee Rang Die In The End?

Yes, Lee Rang definitely did die in the end. When Rang finds out that he can bring back Yeon by sacrificing his own life, he decides to do so.

As a result, Yeon successfully reincarnates and Rang sacrifices his life.

If you look at it, everything in Tale of the Nine Tailed comes to a full circle. Firstly, Ah Eum dies to save Lee Yeon. Yeon sacrifices his life to save Ji-ah and finally, Lee Rang sacrifices his life to bring Yeon back.

In each stage, someone sacrifices their life to save their loved one. In its crux, Tale of the Nine Tailed is a story of love. So it makes sense that Rang sacrificed his life for the one he loves: his brother Lee Yeon.

Tale Of The Nine Tailed: Season Finale Explained
Lee Yeon | Source: IMDb

Personally I would consider it a sort of poetic justice. Considering the atrocities and murder of innocents that Lee Rang caused, it is only justified that he sacrifices his life for a good cause. Moreover, the makers gives us a clear reassurance that Rang has successfully reincarnated. Yeon meets a young boy who resembles his brother Rang’s younger self.

This gives Yeon a lot of relief because it indicates that Rang has already reincarnated. One can question if we the young boy’s age signifies several years have passed. Not necessarily.

The makers probably wanted to use the same child actor to indicate the return of Lee Rang. It would not be possible if they would show a months old baby. So we have no choice but to forgive the logical fallacy there.

3. Is Yeon A Human Or Fox?

Let’s now address the crucial fate of the protagonist: Lee Yeon. Is he human or still a nine tailed fox? Well, considering that Yeon still has the magical powers of a gumiho, I think it is safe to assume that Yeon is still a fox.

Tale Of The Nine Tailed: Season Finale Explained
Lee Yeon | Source: Netflix

To understand the ending, it would be fun to read up a bit about the Korean folktales which forms the premise of the drama. There are several ways in which gumihos can become human. The one concerning the ending of Tale of the Nine Tailed is this one:

Over a period of 100 days (the period varies according to legends), the gumiho cannot be detected as a gumiho by their significant other. In the case of Yeon, it is Ji-ah. If we assume that for 100 days, Ji-ah did not discover Yeon’s truth, it would be easy for him to transform into a human.

Infact, Yeon was on the verge of giving away his real identity as a gumiho when he let out that Ji-ah and he is going to have daughter. Remember the introduction in episode 1? It was mentioned that gumihos has the “ability to see miles ahead”. Yeon definitely had the powers!

Cut to Yeon’s face-off with the Spirit of Misfortune. Yeon took advantage of his magical powers to defeat The Spirit of Misfortune, thereby eliminating any chance of Ji-ah ever finding out his truth. I think that proved to be a boon and he was able to completely transform into a human.

However, it is also possible that he is still a fox, in case the legend is not followed. Yeon’s eyes did light up and his trusted umbrella changed into a sword, signifying he still has the powers of the gumiho. So, this can also be a potential hint to a Season 2, where we could probably get some clarity about Yeon’s truth.

4. Tale Of The Nine Tailed: Season Finale Explained

The season finale gave the audience a much awaited happy ending to the show. Even though Lee Rang dies to bring back his brother to life, he successfully reincarnates as a young boy as discovered by Lee Yeon in the finale.

[Ending Scene] Tale of the Nine Tailed (2020)ㅣK-Drama TrailerㅣWhat is Lee Yeon Now?

This signifies that everything comes to a full circle: the loss of something also means the gain of something.

Ji-ah and Lee Yeon gets a romantic, happy ending and reunites as a couple. Moreover, Ji-ah never really discovers that Yeon is still a gumiho. This was probably Lee Yeon’s motive all along.

Or else, there is no other reason why he would keep his truth from his dear ones, including Shin-Ju. Yeon wanted Ji-ah to have her mental peace thinking that Yeon is completely human now.

However, we discover that Yeon still has his gumiho powers. In the face off with the Spirit of Misfortune at night, we see Yeon’s eyes light up and his trusted umbrella turn into a sword. These signify that Yeon has not lost his powers as a fox.

Now, whether or not Yeon has another motive in mind or is in his transitional phase of becoming a human is unclear. It could also mean that if he is once a gumiho, he would always remain one.

But it would be quite difficult to keep this a secret from Ji-ah and everyone around him for so long, considering Yeon will be spending the rest of his life with Ji-ah. A season 2 could provide us with the much anticipated explanations. Let’s hope the makers come up with an interesting plotline.

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5. About Tale Of The Nine Tailed

Tale of the Nine Tailed is a South-Korean fantasy television drama starring Lee Dong-wook, Jo Bo-ah and Kim Bum. It aired on TvN from 7th October, 2020 to 3rd December, 2020.

Directed by Kang Shin-hyo and Jo Nam-hyung, the series tells the story of Lee Yeon (Lee Dong-wook), an over 1000-years-old Gumiho (nine tailed fox) who is on the look out for his long lost first love who has reincarnated in the mortal world. Besides that, Yeon also fights evil spirits that can harm the mortal world and its inhabitants.

Pratyasha Sarkar

Pratyasha Sarkar

Officially a student of literature, but unofficially a defence lawyer of fictional characters. I am mostly either feasting on chocolate chip cookies or binge watching sitcoms. Also, I firmly believe mint ice cream tastes like toothpaste.


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