But Heading to hell has certainly not flopped with the audience. As of this writing, less than a week after the release of the Korean drama on Netflix, Heading to hell is # 5 on Netflix’s top ten list, and according to FlixPatrol analytics, it’s Netflix’s # 1 show globally. For the first 24 hours, the series was the world’s most watched Netflix TV series, according to FlixPatrol, which topped streaming ratings in more than 80 countries. Given these figures and the structure of the first season, Heading to hell will almost certainly have another season.
Junga’s Return Park
But what will the second season look like? Presumably it will be driven by the mystery surrounding the return of Park Jungja, which gives rise to so many follow-up questions: Will the other victims also return, or is Park Jungja special? How are Jungja’s children? Does Junga have any memories of what happened to her between death and rebirth? Did she play a hand in her own resurrection? Is the miracle associated with Toughie’s survival?
The last question is perhaps the most interesting to me, and what could drive the story of season 2. Toughie is the first decree to survive a supernatural proclamation of impending death. Her survival is a miracle no matter how you define that word. Did this miracle give birth to another miracle? While there is no reason to assume that Jungja’s resurrection came right after Toughie’s survival (after all, this show is canonically cool with time jumps), the course of events involves a connection between the two events.
Often, in stories like this, the universe demands balance; in other words, if someone survives as it is not “meant for,” then someone else must die in their place. In Toughie’s case, both her parents died to keep her alive. Thematically, there is a connection between Park Jungja and Sohyun / Youngjae. They are all parents, and good at it. All three turn out to be devoted to their children’s survival and well-being above all else. Jungja agrees to have her brutal death televised live by The New Truth to ensure that her children will have the financial resources to continue after her death. Heartbreaking (and disturbing), she calls her death sentence the best thing that has ever happened to her, as it will allow the single mother to financially support her children in a way she has never been able to before.
Parental love as a central theme in Hellbound
If Park Jungja and Sohyun / Youngjae are at one end of the good-to-bad parenting spectrum in Heading to hell, then Jeong Jinsu’s parents are by the other. We know from early on Heading to hells tale that Jinsu grew up in a Catholic orphanage. In episode 3, we get a little more of his background story: As a small child, he was left by his mother at a carnival, which led to his placement in the orphanage. Before he received a decree from an “angel”, he says that he lived his life according to the rules and thought that if he was good, then his mother would return after him. Understandably, he is angry and confused when not only does this not happen, but he is sentenced to hell despite his rule-abiding life – he is left to deal with that fear alone, seemingly without any kind of emotional support system. While Jinsu’s villains are his own, his story is also partly a warning story about what happens when parents neglect their children and children grow up without love and support. Parental love is also the weapon Jinsu uses against Detective Jin to ensure that the world continues with the New Truth in power after his death.
It is not a stretch to assume one Heading to hell Season 2 would continue to lean into the theme of parental love as a strong force on both good and evil. Not only is it a big part of season 1, but it’s also a major theme in Yeon’s live-action debut, Train to Busan. The 2016 film follows the emotionally neglected father Seo Seokwoo as he tries to save himself and his daughter, Suan, in the wake of a fast-moving, deadly zombie outbreak in Korea. In the end, Seokwoo not only brings the ultimate sacrifice for his daughter, suffering from a zombie bite in the process of ensuring his daughter’s survival, but is also able to fight the effects of the virus long enough to throw himself off the train, which will bring Suan to relative safety. Given Yeon’s interest in the theme, it is likely that it should Heading to hell Season 2 happens, an exploration of parental love would continue as one of the series’ central themes.
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