Pandora: Beneath the Paradise Explained avatar
ᜌᜓᜃᜒ (雪亮 | 스노 | Yuki)
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If you’re feeling confused about the ending of Pandora: Beneath the Paradise (판도라: 조작된 낙원), don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s delve deeper into the story and see if we can make sense of it together.

From this point: SPOILER warning

Recap of the ending scenes

In one of the final scenes, we sa Pyo Jae Hyun (표재현) take his own life, having come to the realisation that living a life not of his choosing was unbearable. Perhaps he was consumed by regret or too prideful to admit defeat.

A few years later, in Switzerland, Jang Gyo Jin (장교진) arrived at Hong Tae Ra (홍태라)’s home ahead of the others. As he was changing to fresh clothes, it was revealedd that Gyo Jin had the sasme distinctive lightning marks as Jae Hyun. The camera then pans to hiss face, and it was the face of Jae Hyun.

Seven possible explanations

Option #1: Identity Switch

In the scene where Jae Hyun wakes up, it initially appears that he simply left after attempting to attack Gyo Jin. However, it’s plausible that Jae Hyun returned and launched a surprise attack on Gyo Jin, who was attempting to wake up his mother. Jae Hyun used this opportunity to implant false memories and new commands in Gyo Jin’s mind.

There is also a possibility that Gyo Jin was in the process of creating a new face to conceal his burned skin. Jae Hyun saw it, and created his own face which he then placed on the unconscious Gyo Jin.

When Jang Do Jin (장도진) arrived later, the person sitting there was actually Jae Hyun wearing the face of Gyo Jin.

Also noticed how Gyo Jin’s mother was supposedly taken by her assistant and was never heard from again? It might be posssible Jae Hyun hid her body and told a fake story toDo Jin.

Option #2: Early programming

This option takes us back to when Gyo Jin was first brought into Hatch’s laboratory. It is possible that Jae Hyun implanted commands into Gyo Jin’s brain, which would only be triggered by specific words spoken by Jae Hyun.

Jae Hyun was established as a character who was always several steps ahead of everyone else, making him a formidable opponent. It is quite possible then, that when he woke up in Gyo Jin’s hideout, he spoke the trigger words which caused the false memories and new commands he had implanted to take hold of Gyo Jin mind.

Option #3: Hong Tae Ra never woke up

It is possible that Hong Tae Ra (홍태라) is still asleep and dreaming, much like ho they trapped Jae Hyun in an endless dream. However, this could only have occurred when Tae Ra was first captured.

In this scenario, everything we witnessed from that episode until the last was simply the dreams she was having, as the story was from Tae Ra vantage point.

Option #4: They were all implanted by a chip

Unbeknownst to them, all of them had been implanted with a chip by Jae Hyun at some point. This chip allowed him to manipulate their memories, issue commands, and even alter their perception of people’s faces.

Similar to the previous possibile twists, the person who committed suicide was actually Gyo Jin, who had been reprogrammed by Jae Hyun. The rest of them at the scene were only seeing an illusion of Jae Hyun’s face.

Years later, Jae Hyun visited Tae Ra at her home in Switzerland, and the sight of his lightning scars caused Tae Ra’s memories to correct itself, revealing Jae Hyun’s true identity.

Option #5: Jang Gyo Jin is the real mastermind

In this scenario, Gyo Jin has been assuming the identity of Jae Hyun by using implanted chips to manipulate people’s memories, appearance, and actions. He went as far as to murder Tae Ra fake sister and was struck by lightning as a result.

When Tae Ra later saw the lightning marks on Gyo Jin’s back, it triggered the false face that was implanted in her mind, causing her to perceive Gyo Jin as Jae Hyun once again. While the chip was supposedly already removed, both true and false memories are already a part of her.

Option #6: Hong Tae Ra is a test subject

The entire story of Pandora: Beneath the Paradise (판도라: 조작된 낙원) appeared to be a collection of memories or a dream by test subject Hong Tae Ra (홍태라). In the final scene where Tae Ra saw the lightning marks, it was only a programming designed to test how the human brain would react to something unexplainable.

Option #7: Hong Tae Ra was in a virtual world

Have you watched the movie “Total Recall”? It is possible that Tae Ra was simply playing a game, testing a military technology, or even on a vacation here she chose to play the role of a former assassin. Perhaps Tae Ra was simply experiencing her own version of a memory implant or a simulated reality.

In closing

Personally, I am not a fan of dream-like endings, but this story employs advanced technology to make it possible. The ending is definitive, and there are no alternate versions. The character who committed suicide stays dead. What we are left wondering is what actually transpired between the firsst scene of episode 1 and the final scene of episode 16.

We may never know the answer, but it is worth noting that the literal translation of the Korean title is Pandora: A Fabricated Paradise which itself provides us with hints.

  1. Hong Tae Ra (홍태라) embodies the modern version of Pandora.

  2. Pandora’s box represents the chip and mind manipulation technologies used in the show.

  3. The show’s depiction of the horrific consequences that arise from opening Pandora’s box highlights the potential for such technologies to be abused to control people.

  4. The notion of a fabricated paradise suggests that Hong Tae Ra (홍태라)’s life was a fabrication.

    If this last item is the case, then it is highly likely that either Option #6 or Option #7 represents what actually occurred.

What do you think? Which scenario likely actually occurred? Or, maybe, you have a different idea?


・ Cover image: The cover image used in this article is Copyrighted to tvN.

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ᜌᜓᜃᜒ (Yuki ・ 雪亮)If this is not the end of oblivion, then I shall live everyday as if my life were to end this very day.

The YOOki (柳紀 ・ 유 기) Chronicles

The YOOki (柳紀 ・ 유 기) Chronicles is ᜌᜓᜃᜒ (Yuki ・ 雪亮)’s return into casual and personal blogging. The name “YOOki” is a mash-up of the acronym of YourOnly.One and my nickname ᜌᜓᜃᜒ (Yuki ・ 雪亮).

Interestingly, according to Chinese legend, 「柳」 (YOO) is an ancient Chinese surname. The ancestors of the surname were closely linked with the ancient sage-king named Yu Shun. In Korea, the 「유」 (YOO) lineage traces to the Xia, Han, and Joseon dynasties. Holders of the surname Yu or Yoo had a reputation for charity and diligence.1

It is also the word for “willow” or the “willow tree” which means graceful or slender; and a tree growing near a body of water which provide continuous nourishment and resources for everyone. It can also mean to exist, an oil (anointment(?)), and simply as “U” (you).

The hanzi 「紀」 (ki) character means to record, be disciplined, provide order. While the hangul equivalent, 「기」 (ki; gi), means energy, spirit, a banner, and a period of time; and is also a suffix used to make a gerund or an infinitive.

Can you guess what I mean by 「柳紀」 and 「유 기」 as the Chinese and Korean for “YOOki”?

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